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Rubicon Technology: a high tech start‐up successfully practices strategic focus

John Sterling (John Sterling is a partner and co‐founder of Smock Sterling – Strategic Management Consultants, located in Lake Forest, Illinois ( The firm specializes in strategic planning and management. Sterling’s previous Strategy & Leadership case study (Vol. 30 No. 1, January/February 2002) explained how a respected daily Illinois newspaper devised strategies to maintain profitably in the dot‐com era.)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 December 2002



Rubicon Technology, a materials science company focused primarily on the manufacture and marketing of high quality single crystals possesses unique and advantageous technology. But having technological advantages is not enough. Concerted focus is required to translate that technical advantage into product performance that makes a significant difference in customer operations. With market intelligence, an honest self‐assessment and logical analysis, a sustainable market position was developed. The company avoided the temptation of chasing the market with the greatest upside potential and instead elected to target products and markets that were more accessible and aligned well with the experience and capabilities of the company’s technical and operations staffs. Recently, the company has invested enough (in manufacturing facilities and knowledge) to keep its future options open relative to additional vertical integration. Rubicon’s experience with strategic alliances confirms that they can play a crucial role in closing capability gaps and delivering a total package of value to key segments of the market. Rubicon has succeeded largely because, after selecting products and markets that offered excellent potential returns, it focused relentlessly on improving and aligning its technology and its operations to meet expressed customer and market needs. Rubicon has captured at least 10 percent of the LED/LD substrate market worldwide. More importantly, it has moved quickly from the high burn rate of a start‐up to breakeven, and it is on the road to profitability.



Sterling, J. (2002), "Rubicon Technology: a high tech start‐up successfully practices strategic focus", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 18-22.




Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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