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Canadian Dweebs are #1

January 28, 2005

We like to keep our focus on private companies, but you have to indulge us every now and then to talk about a public entity. We read today that ATI, a Canadian semiconductor company, was the top maker of standalone graphics chips in 2004. We always expect big things from ATI. Here’s why:
We actually went to the Great White North a few years ago to visit the management of ATI in a bleak industrial park outside of Toronto. This place was a serious dweeb factory. The offices were crap. The PR guy didn’t know what to do with a journalist. He said the CEO was unavailable. At the time, we were steamed, but even as we worked our way back to California, we thought of the protoype chips we’d seen and the no-nonsense approach of the company. We began to appreciate ATI’s cluelessness. It was a reflection of the company’s focus and seriousness.
By dweebs, for dweebs… eh?
The prevailing theory is that you need to be in or near tech hubs to start world-beating companies. It’s easier to find engineering talent and build corporate infrastructure. But ATI roundly disproves that theory. ATI’s chief competitor, Nvidia, is constantly in the news and boasts an enviable Silicon Valley address. But for now, the dweebs of the Great White North are Number One.

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