John F. Hoffman | CEO | Pivotal Systems

Pivotal Systems: A Key Player in the Semiconductor Industry

Semiconductor devices influence our lives on a daily basis and are all around us. They can be found in just about every commercial product we touch, from the family car to the pocket calculator. They are contained in television sets, portable radios, stereo equipment, and much more. Science and Industrial space also rely heavily on semiconductor devices. Research laboratories use these devices in all sorts of electronic instruments to perform tests, measurements, and numerous other experimental tasks. Industrial control systems (such as those used to manufacture automobiles) and automatic telephone exchanges also use semiconductors. Even today, heavy-duty versions of the solid-state rectifier diode are used to convert large amounts of power for electric railroads. This creates a need for handling, controlling, and manufacturing semiconductor applications. Pivotal Systems provides the best-in-class gas flow monitoring and control technology platform for the global semiconductor industry. The company’s proprietary hardware and software utilizes advanced machine learning to enable preventative diagnostic capability resulting in an order of magnitude increase in productivity and capital efficiency for existing and future technology nodes. The platform includes Pivotal’s Gas Flow Controller (GFC) product lines that offer high-accuracy, real-time monitoring and control of the most critical parameters difficult to control in wafer processing today: Gas Flow and Chamber Condition.

Inception Story 

The Executive Team at Pivotal Systems has decades of experience in the semiconductor industry working at the leading process equipment companies. John HoffmanCEO of the company, has over 30 years of global high technology management experience building growth organizations in both semiconductor and information technology markets. Dr. Joe Monkowski was the President of Lam Research and Officer at Advanced Energy. Nori Kobayakawa was an executive at KLA-Tencor, the leading metrology and Inspection Company in the world. All of them came together understanding that the singular goal of the largest global semiconductor manufacturers and largest global equipment companies was to enable the manufacture of better semiconductor devices per hour of production. They all understood that speed and repeatability of existing gas flow control systems was a significant limiter and it was a technology segment that was ripe for innovation.

An All Encompassing CEO 

Prior to joining Pivotal Systems, John was a Senior VP with Spencer Trask Ventures, a New York based venture capital firm. While at Spencer Trask, John was primarily involved in the solar and integrated circuit efforts of the firm. Prior to Spencer Trask, John was the Chief Executive Officer of RagingWire Enterprise Solutions, an Inc. 500 fastest growing private company. John reorganized the company and enabled record growth in revenue and profitability during his tenure. John has also been an officer at Applied Materials for 18 years and ran several of their largest business groups while there.

John was the President of the billion dollar “Etch Product Business Group”, VP and GM of the Process Control and Diagnostic Business Group and the General Manager of the Customer Service Division which grew by over 300% during his tenure. John has a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an Executive MBA (AEA) from Stanford University. He currently serves on several Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards.

Overview on Innovative Products 

Pivotal Systems is driven by Innovation coupled with continuous improvement. When the company was established, it approached the gas flow control problem from an entirely different direction. It used nanotechnology and machine learning to effectively change the competition. The key point to remember is that if a company uses something for the first time in an Industry, every improvement it makes is effectively continuous innovation. Pivotal’s Gas Flow Controllers and Flow Ratio Controllers solve key semiconductor manufacturing issues through a proprietary hardware design, which is underpinned and driven by an internally developed and proprietary software operating system. This provides accurate and repeatable flow control and real-time measurement no matter the dynamics of semiconductor wafer processing. Ultimately, Pivotal’s products enable there billion dollar customers the ability to make more money while preserving resources.

Wide-reaching Pivotal Systems Applications 

Much of the electronics and technology that is used by corporates and consumers today contains either IC and/or OSD devices. Pivotal’s current product portfolio controls the flow of gas into process tools used in the production of ICs. Pivotal’s devices are either sold to:

  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs): to be used in both deposition and etching process tools supplied to Integrated Device Manufacturers for application in the semiconductor manufacturing process.
  • Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDMs): to retrofit existing process tools installed in semiconductor fabrication plants.

Pivotal Systems’ technology and innovation paves the way for the future of gas flow control. The flow control technology combines Pivotal’s patented, high accuracy GFM™ system with patented control valve technology. As such, it leapfrogs the current MFC technology by offering an order of magnitude improvement on key flow parameters, thereby enabling high efficiency advanced wafer-manufacturing processes.

Future Trends and Sustaining Competency 

Pivotal Systems’ future is just like every other company in the world, it is what the employees and management make it to be. The organization collectively needs to show up every day and continuously support its customers by bringing them continued value. If the company is able to work in this manner, its future is bright.

Pivotal Systems future is driven by a shared vision of excellence and innovation coupled with relentless pressure to execute. New integrated circuit designs and new materials are continually bring introduced to make the next generation of devices. Pivotal’s engineering team is focused on continuously optimizing and improving both the hardware and the software platform in conjunction with strategic customer requirements.

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