Dado Banatao Success Story

I was reading GoNegosyo and I read about the life story of Dado Banatao. He was considered as the Filipino version of Bill Gates since both came up from a technical background, introduced technologies that transformed the computer industry, and built large successful companies from the ground up.

I was really amazed on how far Dado already went in pursuing his dreams especially knowing his roots. And as such, he was the featured story for today in the rags to riches entrepreneur section of this blog. I hope you would find another inspiring success story.

Dado Banatao was born on May 23, 1946 to a rice farmer and housekeeper where he grew up in a little barrio named Malabhac in the farming town of Iguig in Cagayan Valley Province. When he was a kid, Banatao used to walk barefoot to school along the dirt roads. He then went to Ateneo de Tuguegarao and at 15 pursued college education at Mapua Institute of Technology where he graduated cum laude with an Electrical Engineering degree.

Dado was then offered a job after graduation at Meralco but then he turned down the offer after knowing the starting salary. He instead applied as a pilot trainee at Philippine Airlines, which paid much more. Little did he know that a turning point of his career will come when Boeing pirated him as a design engineer and brought him to US.He then enjoyed engineering and later on pursued further studies taking a Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University, which he completed in 1972 to be trained properly on his craft.

After graduating with his Masters degree, Dado then worked at some of the leading-edge technology companies that include National Semiconductor, Intersil, and Commodore International where he designed the first single chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator. In 1981, while he was working at Seeq Technology, the inventor of Ethernet approached the company to look for a more efficient way of linking computers. Banatao was then assigned with the task that led him to his breakthrough discovery of by putting the Ethernet controller on a single chip instead of big boards. That was then the first 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOS with silicon coupler data-link control and transreceiver chip.

With that breakthrough discovery, Dado then decided to start his company and be his own boss. With US$500,000 seed capital that came mostly from friends, he put up Mostron i 1985 to develop chip sets. As a start up company, he had to be cost efficient and resourceful. He then used equipment from another company that wasn’t used on weekends to debug chips. Later his hard work and dedication paid off when his company developed the first system logic chip set for the PC-XT and PC-AT, which lowered the cost of building the personal computer and made it much more powerful.

About the same time, Dado started his second company named Chips and Technologies (C&T), which created enhanced graphics adapter chip sets. With its success, sales during the first quarter amounted to US$12 million. In less than a year, the company went public by listing its shares in the stock market and the market’s response was remarkable. It was one of the fastest Initial Public Offering (IPO) listings in the history of US stock market. In 1996, multinational semiconductor giant Intel bought C&T making Banatao richer by US$430 million.


But even before this huge success, Banatao had already reached millions when he started his third company named S3. It was a company that pioneered the local bus concept for the PC in 1989 and introduced the first Windows accelerator chip in 1990. Way back in 1993, S3 was then considered as the third most profitable technology company in the world when it went public having an IPO worth of US$30 million.

Dado Banatao is now a multimillionaire investor. He invested in a lot of networking companies that were eventually sold before he joined the venture capital firm Mayfield Fund in 1998. After two years, the company offered him to promote to a general partner but Dado refused it and instead decided to start his own venture capital firm named Tallwood Venture Capital with a capital of US$300 million, all of which came from his own pocket. He then believed that independence is more important than security.

Today Dado Banatao manages several businesses. His Cielo Communications is developing the vertical cavity surface emitting laser or Versel, which speeds the transmission of data along optical lines. His SIRF Technology is designing a chip for a global positioning system which utilizes satellites to locate objects. His Marvell Technology had a highly successful public offering with the stock price soaring more than 300% during its first day of trading. He has proven to be a master investor and venture capitalist. He invests, oversees, and sells several companies that include Cyras Systems acquired by Ciena; Newport Communications acquired by Broadcom; Acclaim Communications acquired by Level One; Stream Machines acquired by Cirrus Logic; Marvell Technology Group and New Moo software.

He has more than three homes in the US, including resort properties in Lake Tahoe and Sonoma San Francisco. From his childhood roots of walking barefoot, he now drives his high-performance luxury cars and he flies his own fast jets. Yet despite these blessings, Dado Banatao still contributes to the society and to the country. His Banatao Filipino American Fund assists Northern California high school students of Filipino heritage in pursuing a college education in engineering. Aside from this, he also went back to his childhood town of Iguig in Cagayan Valley where he built a computer center at his grade school making it the only public school with the most modern computer network.

Truly Dado Banatao has come along way being a veteran entrepreneur and venture capitalist of Silicon Valley. May his successful life story continue to inspire us to pursue our dreams, ambitions and aspirations despite adversities in life. Keep the fire burning. As this blog says, Dream… Believe… Act… Achieve.

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