George Holmes of Resonant: “Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know”

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Better to say you don’t know than to try to buffalo your way through something when the person you are talking to may actually be an expert. Better to say, I don’t know, but I’ll get the answer for you and then do it. As a part of […]

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Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Better to say you don’t know than to try to buffalo your way through something when the person you are talking to may actually be an expert. Better to say, I don’t know, but I’ll get the answer for you and then do it.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing George Holmes.

Prior to joining Resonant in 2016, Mr. Holmes served as Chief Commercial Officer for Tigo Energy, where he was responsible for expanding the company’s demand creation activities. From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Holmes worked for Energous, first as Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing then as Chief Commercial Officer where he was responsible for securing development and licensing agreements, overseeing IP strategy and process and spearheading regulatory strategy and tactics. From 2011 to 2013, he served as Vice President of Sales at SolarBridge Technologies, overseeing all sales, business development and sales operations. His prior experience includes senior sales executive roles at Agere Systems (formerly Lucent MicroElectronics), Ortel Corp (acquired by Lucent), Level One Communications and Symmetricom. Mr. Holmes holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Puget Sound and a Diploma in international business from Nyenrode University, Netherlands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I got out of school, I went to work for the group of executives that had been doing turnarounds for Hambrecht & Quist that I had worked for in high school and college. They had a program that started what they believed to be good talent as “financial control guys”, what today would be called FP&A, and depending on where you excelled they created opportunities for you in their operating companies. I started in FP&A, did a stint in regional sales, then back into operations and finally back into sales, where I have been ever since. I had my first VP of Sales job at a public company when I was 29. I started supporting CEOs with strategy, investor relations and board management shortly thereafter and have been doing that ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It was being at the right place, at the right time, with the right set of technologies. In the late 90’s optical components were hot, the operators were aggressively building out their networks, and optical component companies were reaping the benefits. I was doing a turnaround of the company that invented how to put video over fiber for cable television, and we had over 50% share in that market. We saw the boom in telecom and leveraged our position and technologies to create an offering in the fastest growing segment. Soon thereafter there wasn’t a day our stock didn’t go up a dollar or two, and in a matter of months the stock went from below $10 to over $220. We ultimately sold the company for $2.8B to Lucent MicroElectronics, without a banker, and generated a tremendous exit for our shareholders.

Can you tell us about the Cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on?

It is probably worth a little background here. RF filters are inside many devices, and particularly smartphones, and are used to ensure onlythe “right” frequencies (signals) pass through to a particular device while also filtering out unwanted signals. Without RF filters, calls, texting, downloading or streaming videos would not be possible. Similar to lanes on a road, they guide the traffic to prevent collisions. In 4G phones such as the iPhone 11, there are over 60 such filters to manage all of the intricacy of airwaves with the phone. In 5G phones this is expected to increase dramatically.

At Resonant we have developed a software platform for designing these filters more accurately than anything prior. We have now applied this cutting-edge software to develop novel filters (XBAR filters) for next generation wireless technology — 5G, WiFi and Ultra-Wideband.

How do you think that will help people?

The promise of next generation wireless technologies goes beyond simply more speed and more video to mobile devices, but opens up many more exciting applications such as extended reality, autonomous driving, remote surgery, self-governing manufacturing, eHealth and smart home. The current work-from-home environment is expediting this need and transition.

How do you think this might change the world?

Our XBAR filter technology is part of bringing next generation wireless technology to its full potential. The extent of this global, digital transformation is really not known yet, but you can already see the kind of applications enabled by ubiquitous, secure, reliable, high speed wireless networks, from video security drones to autonomous cargo ships, digital car keys and remote surgery. And that’s just a start. I’m guessing there are many innovative applications that we have not even mentioned here.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

The most obvious potential drawback is that all of this automation will displace human workers. Many jobs will disappear, and many new jobs will be created — building and maintaining networks and robots, developing software/AI to manage the complexity of manufacturing floors, delivery systems, supply chain management and more. We have some time since this will not happen overnight, but we do need to be cognizant of the changes and new skill sets required, and plan for this change.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The tipping point came early in 2018 when we decided to extend our software design platform for the filter technology being used for 4G. As we investigated the market, we realized that this technology was not directly applicable to the coming wireless technology, that new technology was coming fast, and that the accuracy of our software platform would allow us to invent the optimum filter structure for this new generation of wireless. We filed our first patents on the fundamental XBAR filter structure soon after and demonstrated a working device at a major technical conference later that year.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

I firmly believe that we are on the right track right now. Resonant is an IP/Technology company that has invented a critical technology for next generation wireless. I liken our position and strategy to one similar to an IP Biotech company, in that we needed to partner with someone who understands the market and customers, but more than anything, who knows how to manufacture these kinds of devices in very high volume (43B filters shipped in 2019), low cost and high quality. Hence, we partnered with the largest filter manufacturer on the planet, which included a strategic investment in Resonant and signing a development agreement to bring this technology to market.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Like most technology-focused early stage companies, Resonant has been publicizing our XBAR technology with both peer-reviewed technical and industry articles. In the past year, we have also been very fortunate to recruit an accomplished set of advisors and industry experts to not only help guide the company but to also partner with us to create a series of webinars to educate the market on 5G. These have been both investment bank-sponsored events as well as a two-part series we put on ourselves called the 5G Insights webinar series:

Clint Brown — Resonant Advisory Board Member

Mr. Brown has been serving on Resonant’s Advisory Board since 2020. Clint served as Director of Business Development Mobility Wireless Connectivity at Broadcom. He has also been a Wi-Fi Alliance Board Director since 2005, serving as Treasurer and Vice Chairman. Brown has more than 30 years of leadership experience in sales, business development and marketing experience, specializing in semiconductor-based wireline and wireless communication technologies.

Rubén Caballero — Resonant Board Member & Advisory Board Member

Mr. Caballero has been serving on Resonant’s Board and Advisory Board since 2019. Rubén is currently the Corporate VP of Engineering, Devices & Technology, in the Mixed Reality & AI Division at Microsoft. He previously served as Vice President of Engineering at Apple where he was one of the founding leaders of the iPhone hardware team and later expanded his role to include iPad, Apple Watch, Macintosh and all other hardware products.

Luis Pineda — Advisory Board Member

Mr. Pineda brings to Resonant more than 32 years of leadership experience in the semiconductor industry. Mr. Pineda retired from a successful 18-year career at Qualcomm’s multi-billion-dollar Semiconductor business. As a founding member of Qualcomm’s semiconductor business, he led product management, marketing, and business development through its early start to industry market share leader for mobile phones, tablets, and infrastructure. Mr. Pineda is also an executive advisor for several high-tech companies both public and private.

Glen Riley — Advisory Board Member

Mr. Riley joined Resonant’s Advisory Board in 2020. Glen retired after spending 15 years in several key executive positions at TriQuint Semiconductor, which merged with RFMD in 2015 to form Qorvo, Inc. He has over 30 years of experience in the semiconductor industry growing businesses in the RF, foundry, optical, and storage markets.

Joe Madden — Independent Industry Expert

Mr. Madden has over 30 years in mobile communications, he accurately predicted the rise of 5G Fixed Wireless, Small Cells, Digital Predistortion, and Remote Radio Heads. He is the Chief Analyst at Mobile Experts Inc. and focuses on 5G, MEC, IoT vertical markets and is currently working on strategic predictions for Edge Computing.

Peter Gammel — Independent Industry Expert

Dr. Gammel has almost 40 years of experience in the semiconductor industry- starting at Bell Laboratories — focused on differentiated device technology. He has managed successful startups, such as SiGe Semiconductor, and has spent significant time in Asia, most recently in Japan managing BAW development for Skyworks. He is currently CTO at GlobalFoundries.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are countless people who have helped and guided me along the way and probably the shortest answer would be all of the employees I have worked with, because without them I would have accomplished nothing.

That said, there are two standouts. First is my father, George D. Holmes, who was the president and CEO of numerous companies. He had a tremendous work ethic, great family man and a tremendous person. He always made time for everyone who worked for him, he treated everyone with respect. For years he was the phone call I made on my drive home to gut check what I was doing and get advice and insights on how to proceed and interact with people.

Second would be Paul Risinger. Paul was the Vice Chairman of Symmetricom until he retired, and he pushed me into my first sales and marketing job. He convinced me that everyone was a salesman and that the experience would always serve me well later in my career. I worked on the biggest deals in the early part of my career leveraging Paul’s advice, and he has provided great council both professionally and personally.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We have used our financial success to support a number of charities, but probably the one we were most connected to was Camp Rainbow Gold in Idaho. This was a camp that focused on helping kids with cancer.

I also provide support to young people trying to figure out their careers and what they want to do next, whether it be through direct mentorship as employees or by using my network to make introductions for them to people that are in their stated line of work.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. You don’t have to say yes to everything
    – Often saying no and having patience yields you a chance at a better outcome
  2. People will disappoint you but don’t give up on them
    – I have worked for CEOs who have constantly disappointed but in the end circled back and created subsequent opportunity
  3. Don’t be greedy, when you have success, share it
    – When employees see that you are only looking out for yourself, they won’t be quick to follow you to your next gig, I have always found that oversharing creates loyalty and ultimately harder working team members who deliver better overall results
  4. Your voice doesn’t have to be the loudest, practice being a good listener
    – Too often people like to hear themselves talk and they miss the point or opportunity that is presented
  5. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know
    – Better to say you don’t know than to try to buffalo your way through something when the person you are talking to may actually be an expert. Better to say, I don’t know, but I’ll get the answer for you and then do it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Someone once said, “Why can we all just get along?” I think there is way too much focus on the “what” we are today and what people owe us. I think if we focused more on the “who” we are, what we can contribute to our families, companies and communities, we would all be better off. The beauty is in the simplicity of it: treat others like you want to be treated and don’t make excuses for not doing so. We can control what we do and be accountable to ourselves. Just do it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You can’t control who is sitting around the table. It’s likely that there will be someone smarter than you are, but what you can control is how hard you work. Working hard creates many more opportunities than just being smart and it’s something 100% within your control.

I have created my own luck by hard work and being willing to do what others weren’t, whether it was as the stock room clerk or as the CEO. It’s through that hard work and determination that we have delivered tremendous increases in shareholder value, in the billions of dollars over the past 30 years.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The current wave of 5G will represent a moment in time, the hype cycle if you will, the next wave, where the real innovations will be showcased, whether it be from the component vendors or handset OEMs. For consumers it’s likely going to be from the application providers, new start-ups that will have broken the code on what to do with all of the speed, bandwidth and low latency (small delay) that comes from “True 5G.” These application providers will get all of the accolades and courting by the VC’s, but it is the component providers — those who have broken the code with new materials and technologies — that will enable this multi-billion dollar market. We believe that Resonant’s XBAR technologies will be the fundamental enabler of these new applications in both hardware and software.

How can our readers follow you on social media?


Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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