Meet Alexander Lidow, CEO Of International Rectifier - InformationWeek

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John Soat
John Soat

Meet Alexander Lidow, CEO Of International Rectifier

Alexander Lidow is the CEO of International Rectifier, the world's oldest semiconductor company, which was founded in 1947 by Alexander's grandfather, Leon, and his father, Eric, who emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1937. It now has 5,800 employees and operates in 20 countries. He has a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University and holds nine patents related to semiconductor technology.

Photograph by David Strick
Alexander Lidow
CEO of International Rectifier

Interview by John Soat

Mike Olson, Oracle VP
"The foundation of all cost is energy," Lidow says a friend explained to him when he was a graduate student, and that's guided his product philosophy ever since. IR strives to develop components that help manufacturers make products that save energy without increasing their cost. "We have to deliver the energy savings for free. The consumer is not inclined to spend for energy savings."

"We have a very large share of the power management components that go into servers," says Lidow. His company's technology is also in notebooks, routers and switches, and in the Sony PlayStation 3. But not in desktop PCs. "Not much use for energy saving in those," he says.

As a teenager, Lidow built his own electric car. It had a 70-mile range and a top speed of 70 mph. "One time I plugged it in at school and shorted out the whole school. I very quietly unplugged it and moved it out of the parking lot. I never got caught."

A growing portion of IR's revenue comes from appliance makers. "We developed a process that can save half the energy of electric motors," Lidow says. Also, IR developed technology that helped make possible long-lasting, energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs. "We don't have a bunch of semiconductor competitors in appliances."

Lidow believes his work is particularly important these days, when energy savings can make the difference in maintaining a livable planet. "Saving energy is the one true way we affect global warming."

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