Broadcom's Nicholas: 'We just got stronger'

'I'll be helping out whenever I'm asked,' Broadcom's Nicholas says

Broadcom Corp. co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III had at least two things to celebrate Thursday -- the sale of his company for $37 billion to a rival chipmaker, and his son Matthew’s high school volleyball team playing in the CIF regional semifinals.

It was hard to tell which he was more excited about.

“Today, I’m like giddy,” Nicholas, whose son plays for St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in Orange County, said in a telephone interview shortly before the game with Saddleback Valley Christian.

Nicholas, who stepped down as chief executive of the Irvine chipmaker in 2003 but still owns 25% of the voting stock, hailed Broadcom’s purchase by Avago Technologies Inc. as “a logical progression” for the company he and Henry Samueli founded in 1991.

“The question is not why now, but why not a couple of years ago,” he said. “Our objective has always been to be the the dominant player in the marketplace. Our objective is to be No. 1. We are in striking distance of that now.”

Nicholas started the company out of his Westside condo and later moved it to small offices in Westwood and then to it larger facilities in Irvine. He said Avago’s announced acquisition reminded him of when Broadcom went public in 1998.

“When we went public, it was like, ‘OK, we’ve got liquidity, but we’re still the same company,’ ” he said. “This time, we’ve still got the same company, but we just got stronger. ... I want to say this is the culmination of a life’s work, but what we’ve really got now is a new point of departure. It’s really exciting.”

Nicholas, whose sister Marsy was slain by her ex-boyfriend in 1983, has spent much of his time and effort in recent years on victims’ rights projects and legislation. He said he plans to continue to focus on that, but hinted that he also might find a role with the merged company.

“I’ll be helping out whenever I’m asked,” he said.

In the meantime, the never-shy billionaire gave his company a pat on the back for its achievements to date.

“I think Broadcom single-handedly took Orange County and made it the technology mecca it is today,” Nicholas said. “We were unique in that we were very much focused on recruiting. I have relocated hundreds of engineers from the East Coast. We not only hired them, but we made them rich.”

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