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All #FSBletters translated as of August 14th, 2022 - Chronological Order - Look Inside

Before reading these #FSBletters from the #WindofChange, please watch/listen to the following audio for the origin & context of these le...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2012 Year in Review – Porsche Carrera Cup Japan

2012 Year in Review – Porsche Carrera Cup Japan

'12 New Year's corporate post card that preceded our 2012 season

2012 was the first year of the Freescale Racing program in Japan. It got off to a rocket start with a win in our inaugural race in Okayama.

Through the 2012 season, we hosted over 500 people in our exclusive VIP Hospitality, hosted the first-ever Freescale One Make Festival at Fuji Speedway that combined the traditional embedded processing trade show format with racing, and racked up a total of 5 podiums.

As program manager for the entire project, it was sometimes a challenge to keep everything at its optimum. My role included the creation of R&D program direction, hospitality structure and oversight, PR/marketing, and of course all things that need ironing out for the actual racing. Securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship from the beneficiaries of the program was a task that necessitated me to build trust and confidence in me by our partners – Freescale, Toyotsu Electronics, Avnet Electronics Marketing, and Tokyo Electron Device. Navigating the maze that is a multi-billion dollar corporation and its politics was also something new.

Check out this video covering the Freescale One Make Festival.

We always ran the program as a business, and I created a methodology that tracked the ROI for our sponsors, who were all Freescale Japan distributors, which can be summed up as follows:

Evaluation of the racing program effect on new business that is won by Freescale or its distributors : Distributor sales and Freescale sales evaluate each deal on a scale of 0-10 with granular explanation of each number, which then equates to the percentage of the deal the racing program gets credit for a given deal.

If Mitsubishi Electric were to have 25 of its employees from management, procurement, and engineering present at a few races back to back in our VIP hospitality, and new RFPs/RFQs were provided in a timely fashion at or after the events to Freescale, then the sales guys from both Freescale Japan and the assigned Freescale Japan distributor responsible for this customer provide their detailed feedback and evaluation of the effect the racing program.

The effect of the program was vast. There were many components to it: our R&D, our hospitality, the sheer excitement and camaraderie that racing creates, and the overall Freescale brand trust and elevation via PR and marketing.

The main changes at Freescale Japan between 2010 and 2012 is the Freescale Racing program and a revamp of the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) event. 
Note that I was also the Program Manager for the 2011 Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) Japan.
We grew the event 4 times in space, 4 times in number of customers, and spent less money than the previous year as a result of hundreds of thousands in sponsorship revenue I secured from Freescale's eco-system partners.

A little bit of business background. Freescale Semiconductor, based in Austin, TX, is a $5B public corporation, and holds a huge market share in automotive chips and sensors worldwide. It’s main competitor, especially in Japan, is Renesas.

The issue regionally is that Renesas has tens of thousands of employees in its home-base – Japan, and its sales force is thousands strong. Freescale Japan’s easiest route to growth is to siphon away Renesas’ market share, since Renesas’ sales in the space of competition with Freescale may be 20x of Freescale Japan’s total revenue. Meanwhile, Freescale Japan’s sales force, even if you add in all of the distributors sales force on the Freescale account, is a couple of hundred.

Reminds of the movie “300.” This is where the racing program strategy came in. With a racing program, we accomplished the following:

1.       Unique positioning of Freescale Japan as the innovator in the Japan market. The only microchip company with a race team conducting active-safety R&D and thus showcasing the engineering know-how and its portfolio of products – spanning the networking, automotive, industrial, and consumer segments.

2.       Psychology: Racing is competition to the extreme. By hosting hundreds of decision-makers from our customers, we create our own team that INCLUDES the customers. This team is full of passion and excitement, with everyone rooting for the same thing.

3.       Facilitation of direct and friendly relationship with customer management base. Instead of trying to sell from the bottom at the customers, we sell directly to the decision-makers and management, who are now not only on our side logically, but also emotionally.

4.       Significant POSITIVE media exposure: Prior to this program, Freescale would have a handful of journalists show up for a press conference. We hosted multiple press conferences centering on the Freescale Racing program and the room was packed every time. Consider what journalist whose job it is to cover the embedded microchip marketplace who would not want to go to a press event about RACING! On top of that, the race car is packed with Freescale technology, and we are doing something no other competitor is doing!

5.       The camaraderie that was created between Freescale and its distributors was immense. Spending weekend after weekend together, in a positive and energetic environment. That is such huge motivation for people whose jobs are usually to be at the desk or visiting customers for endless meetings that would want to make you tear your hair out.

What did all of this mean to the success of the program?

Freescale received roughly $55 million dollars of product commitments which will flip to revenue over the subsequent 5 years or so as a DIRECT measured result in 2012. The expanded value of new business that the program "affected" was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The sales cycle, especially in the automotive segment, is rather long, and can take up to 5 years from winning the design to going to production.

At the season finale at Motegi, I was asked by Hitotsuyama Racing to also race in the Audi R8 GT3 during the same weekend in SUPER GT GT300, resulting in a lot of jumping back and forth between the Porsche and the Audi. In the following Fuji Sprint Race for SUPER GT, I secured the first and only points position in that car for the team for the season.

Stay tuned for the update covering the 2nd year (2013) of the Freescale Racing program in Japan!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

R&D Progress and the dramatic reality of racing

As I reflect on the last few races in the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Japan with the #90 OGT! Racing Porsche 911, I cannot help but think that you can't make this stuff up if you tried as a work of fiction!

Round 3 - May 3rd / 4th - Fuji Speedway
Total Attendance: 83,000 spectators

Round 3 of the series took place alongside SUPER GT in May at Fuji Speedway. We arrived to the track after a win in the season opener followed by a strong 3rd place finish in round 2. Great momentum and excitement throughout our organization and good progress on the R&D side of this project with Freescale made it an excellent start to this long-planned-for program.

Practice sessions on test day prior to the qualifying day were decent, but again in the rain. After a tactical mistake in opting not to use 2 sets of new tires in qualifying as the track conditions improved considerably near the end of the session, as most other teams had done, prevented us from improving on our time set early in the session. This resulted in qualifying in 4th position for the race.

This was the first event for which we mounted Freescale's next-generation 360-degree surround view digital camera system. It consists of 4 cameras, each capturing over 90 degrees around the car in each direction. The system runs on Freescale's i.MX6 chip and Denso cameras.

The ruggedness of the system, which we first tested several days prior to the race weekend, was fantastic. It is completely immune to the severe vibrations which are natural to the motorsports environment. Another potential issue was the interference of many other electronics onboard the car, which can always present issues that are oftentimes best described as "gremlins," and make the best engineers scratch their heads in defeat. None of that with this system. Even in pouring rain, the system proved impeccable.

Unlike the poor weather on the previous day, race day welcomed us with beautiful sunshine. Just as in Okayama, we had over 50 Freescale eco-system attendees on each day coming to support our team and to  learn about the R&D program.

To cut to the chase on the racing front - we had a good start from 4th place and quickly passed the 3rd place car going into turn "B" chicane. But then, my error caused the below incident, which fortunately did not damage the car. It took time to get back to the track and we had to pit for a new set of tires, effectively ending our contention for any kind of position.

Usually, this kind of accident is caused by some amount of steering input to unbalance the car, which in a Porsche is immediately punished by the rear floating up and to the side, since the heavy engine is in the back. In this case though, you can see that steering was not the issue, but rather a loss of sight of the correct braking point by me, which resulted in a natural instinct to apply stronger pressure to the brake pedal, and not visible in the video, but the telemetry data showed that rear tires were on the very edge of adhesion as they rotated at around 150km/h and decreasing while the car was traveling at a much greater speed. Being able to maintain this on the edge would in fact result in maximum braking, but as I downshifted the rear immediately stepped out. This was possibly caused by some centrifugal forces within the drivetrain. Essentially, in theory, the car was so much on the edge with all the traction being used to stop the car, just a small application of force, like a finger poking at the side of the car, would have probably unsettled the car enough to take it into the spin.

PCCJ's aggressive points structure - 20 points for 1st, 18 points for 2nd, 16 points for 3rd, made this an extremely costly mistake for our team and wiped out my lead over the next place car in championship contention, which was something like 14 points going into round 3.

Round 4/5 - June 9th/10th - Freescsale One Make Festival at Fuji Speedway

Freescale became the title sponsor of the annual One Make Festival held at Fuji Speedway. This is an event with a variety of one-make series racing over the weekend, including the Porsche Carrera Cup. Some others series included small formula cars, Lotuse Elises, and Honda Civics.

The event was combined with Freescale's Designing with Freescale event (DwF). These are seminars held all across the world - over 200 annually. Usually, the attendance is from the dozens to about a hundred eco-system engineers learning about the Freescale and eco-system hardware/software tools to help them enable integrate the Freescale solutions in their products.

Despite rain on Saturday, thanks to Freescale Japan's awesome organization, 340 eco-system engineers attended the seminars and had 170 family and friends join in the fun of watching racing.
On Sunday, over 200 engineers attended with around 200 family members and in addition to in-depth technology seminars, took part in go-kart racing and even a parade run around Fuji Speedway. I imagine this was most people's first ever experience driving on an actual race track - and everyone seemed to have a blast!

The race was relatively straight-forward. After the previous day's disappointment of picking the wrong tires, we started in 9th position on the grid as a result of a relatively decent time that we set during the Rd.4 race near the end on dry tires. As the lights went out, we slowly but surely continued to pass cars to end up in a podium position for the Championship class.