When we landed SiFive as a client, they presented us with an interesting challenge. We were tasked with gaining awareness and traction for a company launch out of stealth…for a company that wasn’t quite stealth.
The backdrop: the semiconductor market has been rapidly shrinking due to consolidation, making it difficult for anyone except the largest device makers to gain access to custom chips. It’s within this contracting market that SiFive was launching, with the bold mission to democratize access to semiconductors through an open source approach.
SiFive’s value proposition centers on semiconductor architecture that goes beyond the conventional transistor scaling issues inherent in Moore’s law. That might sound overly technical and niche, but it’s vital. Chips have been pushing right up against power and size limits the past few years. Given their central role in every electronic device we use, improving chip performance in a cost-effective manner is crucial to making technology more affordable and available to both inventors and society at large.
SiFive’s founders had developed a free and open version of their architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, prior to formalizing the company and the product line. Given the excitement around the novel approach, important vertical publications like EE Times and others already had covered the core innovation for months. This left the SHIFT team with the challenge of how to position the company launch as something newsworthy. Also, given the technical nature of the company and product set, the SHIFT team needed to design messaging that enabled SiFive to resonate with non-engineering tech and business press.
The launch was crucial to not only supporting the company’s product introduction, but to position the company as a credible go-to resource on open source chip development. The SiFive team is led by brilliant engineers that have little to no marketing experience, so the messaging and delivery planning was essential in turning initial reporter interest into coverage and longer term press value.
Through a mix of pre and day-of briefings, SiFive enjoyed more than 25 individual pieces of media coverage during the July 2016 company launch, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, 451 Research, eWeek, The Next Platform and EE Times. Network syndication brought double digit additional placements and set the stage for ongoing coverage through the remainder of the year.
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