Home Stock list Hermann Hauser, founder of Arm: “Brexit is the greatest loss of sovereignty since 1066” | Technology sector

Hermann Hauser, founder of Arm: “Brexit is the greatest loss of sovereignty since 1066” | Technology sector


Jhe story of the smartphone revolution could have been very different. Hermann Hauser was successful as a computer entrepreneur in Cambridge in 1985, but his company, Acorn, needed a better chip. Hauser approached the American firm Intel to ask if he could modify one of his chips.

“Intel said get lost,” Hauser says. “Who the hell are you? They’re perfect the way they are.

He may well regret this decision. Hauser instead had two engineers create Acorn’s own version. There are now 225 billion descendants of the first “advanced Risc machine”, or Arm, Intel’s biggest rival. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, chances are you’re holding one of its chips in your hand – the company estimates they’re built into 95% of smartphones worldwide.

Yet his future is deeply uncertain, amid fears he will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, loosening his British roots. The company halted work on a dual listing in the UK, the FinancialTimes reported last week. It would be a blow to Downing Street, which has been pushing for a listing in London.

Hauser, now a venture capitalist in a string of British tech companies, sold his stake in Arm in 2016 when it was bought by Japanese firm SoftBank, but he is a strong advocate for maintaining its corporate status. independent and of British technology. champion.

US chip designer Nvidia attempted to buy Arm in 2020, which “would have been an absolute disaster”, he said, speaking from his office in Cambridge. He favors an initial public offering that allows a diverse shareholder base to take minority investments and keep Arm as the “Switzerland of the semiconductor industry”, able to work with anyone. .


Age 73

Family Pamela Raspe, wife of 40 years this year, a grown daughter and a grown son.

Education School in Kufstein, Austria; studied physics at the University of Vienna, then a doctorate in physics at King’s College, Cambridge.

Pay “That’s not an easy question to answer. The actual salary is £200,000 but the main income comes from our investments and this varies enormously.

Last holidays “We’ve been on our farm for three years but took a few driving holidays down to Napier [in New Zealand].”

Best advice ever given “I didn’t know if I should accept a job in a big company [running research following the breakup of Acorn]. My friend advised me to take the job.

Biggest Career Mistake Not fully understanding inventory control at Acorn.

Word he abuses “Well, maybe ‘the metaverse’!”

how he relaxes “I will run.”

“Iit would again be a double listing,” Hauser says. “It was very good to see that even our technologically illiterate political elite, including the Prime Minister, have realized that Arm is in fact a great national asset. And probably the only company in the UK that has global relevance in the field of technology.”

Hauser still uses “we” when talking about arms, and he sheepishly admits that he still thinks of him as “my baby.”

He grew up as a “country boy”, living in a small Tyrolean village in Austria, learning physics on mountain walks with a family friend. When he was a teenager, he was sent to a summer English course in Cambridge, beginning a decades-long love affair with the city. He studied physics in Vienna but returned to Cambridge to prepare a doctorate at the Cavendish Laboratory.

From there, he and a friend, Chris Curry, created Acorn, which created the hugely popular and highly regarded BBC Micro computer, which was sold to thousands of UK schools. Acorn struggled and was eventually bought out, but Arm, which was created in 1990, surged.

Arm had two advantages, Hauser says: there were no people and no money. That meant it had to be simple from the start. He turns to a bottle of champagne, sitting on his shelf in his office next to models of chemical compounds – it was purchased to mark the Arm chip’s first operation.

As a teenager, Hauser was warned that physics would open good jobs for him, but he would never make any money. It didn’t turn out quite right. When Acorn went public, he estimated he and Curry were the 10th and 11th richest people in the UK.

“I was kind of Steve Jobs from the UK back then,” he says. “I was a well-known figure, well, nationally, because we were in the Daily mail when things were going well, and we were in the Daily mail again when things haven’t gone so well.

This reputation brought investment opportunities. He founded venture capital firm Amadeus with Anne Glover, and it now has an investment portfolio worth around £1billion across around 50 investments. Hauser has been involved in seven ‘unicorns’ – companies which have reached a valuation of $1bn (£830m) – and two of them have become ‘decacorns’, above the bar of $10 billion.

Among his current investments, he reserves particular praise for Graphcore, a potential rival to Nvidia for artificial intelligence chips; Paragraf, which manufactures sheets of graphene, a marvelous material; and Xampla, a maker of degradable plastic bags made from pea protein.

Learning about companies “keeps me young,” says Hauser. A scientist’s excitement shines through when discussing the details of the technologies, like how Xampla copies the process used by spiders to make their silk, or the intricacies of quantum effects. (Hauser thinks quantum computers will crack the encryption on which much of the world’s online security relies within the next five years, sooner than many other analysts.)

Hauser spends his time between the UK and New Zealand (where he and his wife were stuck during pandemic lockdowns), but he describes himself as a “passionate” European. It meant he viewed the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as a personal blow.

He also thinks it was a strategic mistake. His big theory – he’s working on a book about it and has discussed it with senior government officials – is that the United States, China and Europe are the only three “circles of technological sovereignty”, with the factories of chip manufacturing and the 5G know-how needed for a modern economy. “Britain has no chance of being technologically sovereign,” says Hauser. “Brexit was the greatest loss of British sovereignty since 1066.”

He also warns against the UK fully associating itself with the United States, which has become an unreliable partner under Donald Trump, and wants it to revive cooperation projects such as the Horizon project of the EU, which funds scientific research but is under threat amid disputes. on post-Brexit trade rules.

“I hope that despite the toxicity you have with Brexit between Europe and Britain at the moment – which is silly – I hope that Britain joins the circle of technological sovereignty of the Europe,” he said. “Britain does not want to become the 51st state of the United States.”