For those who came in late, Apple was Imagination's biggest customer until it decided to knife its former partner and make its graphics chips on its own. The Tame Apple Press immediately wrote off Imagination, despite the fact that there might be a legal battle or two about how dependent Apple's new chips are on Imagination technology.
Li is Chairman of the Global Semiconductor Alliance and a well-known and respected figure in the semiconductor industry. He has over 30 years of semiconductor experience most recently as chairman, CEO and president of Spreadtrum Communications and chairman of RDA before becoming Co-President at Tsinghua Unigroup. During his nine-year tenure at Spreadtrum, He helped grow revenue from $100 million to $2 billion at Spreadtrum, and increased the company’s market value from $35 million to $7.5 billion.
This sort of expansion is exactly what Imagination needs, particularly as he has extensive experience of working in both the US and in China, two of Imagination’s major markets.
The appointment also supports the company’s strategy of expanding into China and bridging the gap between US, Europe and Asia. Imagination Technologies is already capitalising on the opportunities in China, one of the largest semiconductor markets in the world through new licence deals and design-ins. The company is focused on creating and licensing a broad range of silicon intellectual property.
Dr. Li replaces Andrew Heath, who has led Imagination since February 2016 and was responsible for first returning the company to profitability and then brokering the sale of the company to US based private equity firm Canyon Bridge, securing the company’s continuity as a world-leading independent IP supplier.
Ray Bingham, founding partner at Canyon Bridge Capital Partners Inc. and Executive Chairman, Imagination, said: “Andrew has done a great job as CEO of Imagination through a challenging period. He is leaving the company with a strong roadmap and sales pipeline and with excellent partnerships around the world, especially in Asia We thank him for his invaluable contribution over the last two years.
“With his extensive experience in both the global semiconductor industry and China, Leo will lead Imagination on the next phase of its journey as a world-leading independent IP supplier. He will deliver leadership for its graphics and connectivity customers, continued growth and our new vision in AI technologies. This appointment demonstrates our commitment to hire the best talent, invest in new technology and acquire and serve customers globally.”
Dr. Leo Li, Chief Executive Officer, Imagination Technologies said: “I have paid close attention to Imagination over the years. We have a strong strategy today to evolve the company to the next level of success by capitalising on the opportunities in other markets, particularly China, one of the largest semiconductor markets in the world. We will have a renewed focus on technology innovation through strengthening our R&D capabilities, making Imagination a clear global technology leader again, and bringing value to our customers.
“With the equity and strategic capital provided by Canyon Bridge, Imagination can reach its full potential as world leading independent IP supplier.”
Dr Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research said: “Imagination is a pioneer in graphics: one of the first to accelerate 3D in PCs and consoles; the first to deliver high performance mobile phone GPU IP; one of the first to enable GPU to compute; and a key player in diverse markets, from the pocket to the car. My understanding of the company culture is that it is restlessly innovative and with Leo Li, a proven heavy weight in the semiconductor industry, Imagination has found a leader who can harness that innovation for Imagination’s next big ‘first’.”