The world’s microchips sector is snowed under — and Peter Wennink is selling the shovels.
As chief executive officer of Dutch firm ASML, Wennink leads the only company in the world capable of producing the printing machines required by chips giants TSMC, Samsung and Intel to manufacture the latest generation of cutting-edge microchips for tech firms across the world. Companies depend on these tiny components to keep up with record-high demand for smartphones and consumer technology all the way to connected cars and data centers.
The sector has faced a chips drought due to supply-chain shocks that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic and peak demand.
Chips manufacturers are knocking on ASML’s doors to buy its prized — and pricey — machines in large numbers. Under Wennink’s leadership since 2013, the Dutch firm grew into the highest-valued European technology firm today. Chips have taken center stage in the global race for technology too; Wennink’s every sale is being watched with a magnifying glass by China-wary U.S. officials.
Meanwhile, the Dutchman is raising his voice in Brussels. EU officials have crafted an industrial strategy for the sector, coming up with a legislative European Chips Act and setting up an industry “alliance” to coordinate the sector’s policies with industry leaders like ASML as well as Infineon, STMicro, NXP, Imec and others. At stake is a public-investment scheme worth billions for the sector that’s meant to increase its footprint to 20 percent of global market value by 2030. Europe badly needs ASML’s buy-in to reach that goal.
If there’s one person in Europe you need on your side to solve the global chips-shortage crisis, it’s Wennink.
What to watch out for this year: Whether Wennink moves forward with sales of his most advanced machines to China, and how he bends the ears of European policymakers on this issue.
What’s their superpower: Making something no one else can make.
Influence score: 19/30