Bridgelux Announced 18% Workforce Reduction

Sep 28, 2011 George Avalos from Silicon Valley has reported on the plan of Bridgelux to cut about one-fifth of its workforce in Livermore. This action is a result of company's decision to shift to cheaper ways to produceLEDs.

Livermore-based Bridgelux is cutting 53 out of 250 jobs at its head offices in the East Bay, said Bill Watkins, CEO of the company. Worldwide, Bridgelux has about 300 employees.

The reporter notes that these cutbacks come on the heels of the Solyndra shutdown that erased 1,100 jobs.

Bridgelux has determined it needs to shift its focus of producing LEDs on sapphire surfaces to a less expensive system of putting them on silicon surfaces. The company is eliminating its current production of LEDs on sapphire surfaces, which is what triggered the job cuts.

According to CEO estimation the production costs for the silicon-based LEDs will be 75% less than for the saphire-based diodes. The company hopes to achieve industry's leading position by doing the complete switch to silicon-based LEDs production.

It is quite unfortunate that the disclosure of the cutbacks comes just two months after Bridgelux revealed it had landed $60 million in venture capital financing. All told, Bridgelux has attracted $180 million in VC funding.

Mr. Avalos also notes that in late July, the company also said it was in a hiring mode. During 2010, privately held Bridgelux generated $35 million in revenue. The company's target revenue level for 2011 is about $80 million, the company says.

Bridgelux hopes to move to mass production of LEDs on a silicon surface within 18 months. Many of the industry experts note that production of the silicon-based LEDs is currently associated with certain technological difficulties in handling excessive heat by silicon material.

It is also reported that the company is negotiating a joint venture with an Asia-based company to conduct the manufacturing of the new generation of LEDs overseas. Watkins wouldn't identify the company.

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Author:  Alice Jones

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