Since the mid-1990s Liam Casey, PCH International’s chief executive officer, has helped technology companies with the nastiest task in Silicon Valley: building hardware. It’s long been considered scut work—dirty, complicated, low-margin stuff, beneath the dignity of software companies. Far better to write a few brilliant algorithms and then rack up profits by selling them over and over. PCH specialized in helping gadget-makers outsource as much as possible, finding cheap overseas manufacturers, streamlining supply chains, and negotiating airfreight contracts.
Casey has lately noticed a renewed appreciation for nuts and bolts. Silicon Valley is interested in hardware again, and Casey is riding the trend. Earlier this year PCH purchased a small San Francisco engineering consultancy called Lime Lab. He plans to hire 30 product development experts by yearend and to bring over some of the company’s electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineers from China to help clients design and build their products. “Hardware is the new software,” says Casey, who adds that the unit has booked contracts worth $10 million.
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