Chinese Chipmaker Plans Overseas Buying Spree to Get Mobile Tech

  • Goodix is setting its sights on chip and software developers
  • It’s counting on demand for high-end sensors to double sales

Goodix, a supplier of mobile chips to Inc. and major Chinese smartphone makers, plans to begin shopping abroad for semiconductor and software developers to gain an edge in an increasingly competitive market. 

The company wants to become the world’s biggest supplier of fingerprint sensors, Chief Executive Officer David Zhang said in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That will help again double its revenue in 2017, matching its pace of growth in the first 9 months of 2016, he added.

The company, known formally as Shenzhen Huiding Technology Co., is among a crop of Chinese companies embracing technology and higher-margin products, trying to shake off a reputation for making cheap goods.

“Whether to develop a new technology and product ourselves or buy a company that’s already done it, is like deciding whether to spend time cooking dinner at home or hit a restaurant at a higher cost,” Zhang said in an interview in Las Vegas. “Sometimes we have to invest capital instead of time to get an early start.”

Chinese companies now rival the U.S. as the biggest buyer of overseas companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, a shopping spree that’s meeting resistance from governments concerned about security issues. As part of an overseas expansion, Goodix is setting up a U.S.-based marketing team that will cover markets outside of China and Taiwan, he said. The company, which has been supplying chips to Amazon’s tablets, is in talks with the American company on providing sensors for future Kindle offerings, Zhang said. 

Goodix went public in October, raising 873.9 million yuan ($127 million) to fill its coffers and help finance acquisitions and expansion. Its shares have risen six-fold since its debut and the company is now valued north of $6 billion. 

The company also competes with Synaptics Inc. in touch-screen controllers. Among its latest designs are sensors that can hear heartbeats to detect faked or cloned fingerprints, a technology already used in high-end local cellphones such as Gionee’s latest 7,000 yuan model, according to Bo Pi, the company’s chief technology officer. And the company is intent on preserving any technological edge it possesses.

“After our company went public last year, we now have the resources to use acquisitions as a weapon to speed up development,” Zhang said.

— With assistance by Ying Tian

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