T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 12, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Democrats had a lot of hand wringing to do last week, save one state, the one I'm in right now, California. With the easy re-election of Gray Davis into the governor's mansion, Democrats dazzled here. I wonder how that makes my next guest feel. With us now, political thorn and Cypress Semiconductor CEO extraordinaire, T.J. Rodgers.

T.J., good to see you.


CAVUTO: What did you make of what appeared to be just outright Democratic sweep here?

RODGERS: Well, you know, it's a sweep in that if you wrap it up and give it to them, it was a sweep, but I think it's probably the worst run gubernatorial campaign in history, the Simon campaign. So, I wouldn't declare it as victory as much as a loss.

CAVUTO: All right, but a W is a W is a W. For you and what you do, does it make a difference who runs this state?

RODGERS: Not really. San Jose is a continent away from Washington. And I wish they were farther. The fact is Sacramento, where you are 90 miles away, is even farther away from me than Washington. They don't matter very much in what we do. They manage to make it a manufacturing hostile state. And therefore most semiconductors manufacture elsewhere in the United States right now, not in California. The silicon has gone out of Silicon Valley, but there is not a whole lot the state can do to really impact Silicon Valley. We are more international right now than anything else.

CAVUTO: T.J., let me ask you something here, with Republicans now in charge of the House, the Senate, and the White House, what do you want to see out of those guys?

RODGERS: Actually, I'm not a doctrinaire Republican. I'm a Republican by default. I like disliked Republicans less than I dislike the other party. I always worry.

CAVUTO: A pox on both their houses, huh?

RODGERS: Both, yes, well, I think the Constitution has separation of powers. We have the three branches of government deliberately to cause someone not to have the power to drive us with their ideology. And I always thought the American people in their wisdom had full separation of powers which was, let's have the president and the Congress be from different parties, so they can fight and squabble. And only things that are obvious to both parties get through. And I always worry either Democrat or Republican, when one party gets in control, and they can kind of railroad stuff through. The fact is they don't have control. They will always be enough defectors of conscience, let me call them that, to cause there to be give-and-take in Congress and not have a party like the Clinton administration, the first Clinton administration, railroaded a lot of liberal stuff through that I didn't like. I don't think the Bush administration can do that now.

CAVUTO: You know what is a very unique about you, T.J.? Not blowing smoke your way, but when a lot of fellows in your industry were coming hat in hand to government looking for brakes and everything from the Clinton- Gore administration, you were decidedly absent. You said that it is not your industry's job or character to go looking for help from Washington. Do you regret that in retrospect whether it made you a pariah in the technology community?

RODGERS: Not at all. It turns out I was on the cover of 1992 BusinessWeek. And the title was "The Bad Boy of Silicon Valley." And it turns out, I was right. And the organization that shunned me, the Semiconductor Industry Association, later invited me to join up. And I even became chairman of that industry because I said, corporate welfare is wrong. If you are going to be a capitalist like I am, if you are going to say, let people earn what's they are going to earn, like I do, then the flip side is, don't go take money out of the pockets of workers and schoolteachers, and send them to California to Silicon Valley, one of the richest areas in the world, to make us better off. Let us fend for ourselves. And if we can't, let us go out of business. Silicon Valley will continue. So I was ideologically right for free markets. And I didn't compromise my principles for the politics du jour. And that went out in the long haul. People have told me that over and over again, we were fighting with you back then but we are glad you hung in there.

CAVUTO: Do you sense that the technology industry, your industry more to the point, has rounded the bend, that things are picking up? do you see light?

RODGERS: Boy, it is a soft quarter we are in right now. We don't have any visibility, but I'll tell you one thing, in our business, Moore's Law is king. And Moore's Law says every time you double the volume of something you cut the cost of it by 30 percent. And right now we are shipping at near an all-time record number of units. Our problem is with the prices way down, with heavy competition, is price more than unit volume. So the turn around always happens when you can ship a lot of stuff and the prices go up and then you take off. I think we are in the third trimester of getting this thing behind us.

CAVUTO: All right, T.J. Rodgers, Cyprus, good seeing you again, even remotely.

RODGERS: Thanks, Neil.

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