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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Diosdado "Dado" Banatao: What People Say About the "Bill Gates" of the Philippines


Wazzup Pilipinas!

"Dado Banatao is using his intellect, influence, and resources to break the cycle of poverty through technology. He understands poverty very well as he himself came from a very humble background. Hope more and more Filipinos that have 'made it' emulate his example."

Did you know that the 16-bit microchip (the first single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that made computers work a lot faster) was invented by a Filipino?

Diosdao "Dado" Banatao's love for mathematics has taken him from the Cagayan mountains to the heights of Silicon Valley. This guy shows leadership by example. He leads by goodwill and not by authority. That is a breath of fresh air.

His father's job is a rice farmer while his mother is a housekeeper. "He maybe came from a poor family but it doesn't make him less." Rising from poverty to become a successful computer engineer and venture capitalist at Silicon Valley, he is considered the Philippines' version of Bill Gates.

Banatao was born the son of a farmer in the rural Philippines. He grew up in poverty, without shoes or access to electricity. He used to walk barefoot along the dirt roads of his hometown in Cagayan Valley. He pursued his secondary education at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Tuguegarao.


Dado was 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 such as the National Semiconductor, Intersil, and Commodore International where he designed the first single chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator. In 1981, he discovered and invented the first 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOS with silicon coupler data-link control and transreceiver chip while working in SEEQ Technology. He was also credited for the first system logic chip set for IBM's PC-XT and the PC-AT; the local bus concept and the first Windows Graphics accelerator chip for personal computers.

Now, his inventions are part of almost every personal computer in the world. Along the way, Banatao founded three companies: S3, Chips & Technologies and Mostron. 

After high school, Banatao took up Electrical Engineering at MapĂșa Institute of Technology, where he graduated Cum Laude. I was also a graduate of Mapua but I took Electronics and Communications Engineering instead. Though I do believe a successful career is not just defined by where one graduates but also from what happens afterwards in the real world. Learning stuff that you won't learn from school was more of what shaped me as a person.

In the 1980s, Banatao's innovations helped usher in the era of the personal computer. He pioneered the PC chipset and graphics acceleration architecture that continue to be two of the foundation technologies in every PC today.

"What made me is education. Every one should have it" says Banatao. He knows how education can transform lives, and he is using this to inspire engineering students to dream big. "It has been proven that technology is the most powerful catalyst for economic growth, not just for individuals but for entire populations. You, the students of technology, have the ability to take this country out of poverty. That is your future. Do it well" says Banatao.


“Education matters,” Banatao stressed. “The (company) founder alone does not make the company. Can you imagine a Microsoft that’s only Bill Gates? … At the end of the day, it was the sharp engineers who did it,” he adds. He expressed that "It is really education that transformed me and my siblings...my life."

“Entrepreneurship is the fastest way to move wealth in society. Education gives people the tools to innovate and build businesses. That entrepreneurship leads to the creation of jobs and redistribution of wealth, and puts the Philippines on the global economic map” says Banatao. "When the value of mind is higher than the value of money itself, that's how you diffuse wealth."

He also said that "Education can boost the Philippines’ tech startup ecosystem." We need that to make our start-up eco-system work. He was also quoted saying "Money is the hardest obstacle in building a company" of which startups lack very much as they try to attract investors to hopefully see their ideas' worth.

Dado’s motivation to excel in school was different. He would say that "It is not a sin to have money, to work for it, but I wasn’t brought up to study or work hard to get out of poverty, we have no notion of wealth or possession of it. We simply studied became our parents instilled in us that education was important."

Dado Banatao and Elmer Sotto run the PhilDev Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the Filipino. As a venture capitalist, "I look for companies whose products that are really hard to do. I never look at the easy path. I keep asking myself what maximum impact would I have in the industry? You get to the point where you can design anything. You think a lot about the impact. Then how do I leverage in expertise? I became a venture capitalist so I can put money into good companies."

The Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev), which Banatao chairs, and DevCon Philippines, founded by Winston Damarillo, the Entrepreneurship Camp, offers mentoring opportunities from top Filipino technopreneurs. “We imagine a Philippines where every child has access to education and is raised with a foundation in Science and Technology. This is a reality that PhilDev is creating.”

He started PhilDev to help others have the opportunities he had. "I see many children who are smarter and brighter than I was at their age. There are countless kids who just need a chance. Just like I did. I am not so special, but I am determined.”

He believes "Innovation is more important than invention. Innovation implies industry."

“We imagine a Philippines where every child has access to education and is raised with a foundation in Science and Technology. This is a reality that PhilDev is creating.”


Our very own Dado Banatao is a role model for future immigrant entrepreneurs. It will be more beneficial for the economy if immigration reform becomes a reality. Hopefully, soon, the current administration will take positive steps towards enacting new rules that adopt a truly entrepreneur friendly culture.

From creating a $1B company to jumpstarting PH's technology production, he advises us to create the necessary pool of engineers and experts, fund them, and exploit our huge domestic market. He believes "Entrepreneurship is one of the fastest ways to diffuse wealth among Filipino people." He has done tremendous things in the industry from a technical point of view. But what drove him first was the business side.

"This is what I love about my work. I get to discover inspirational people. Something you could be proud of being Filipino. smile emoticon (yes, discover is the right term because it has an "awe" effect on me)." When asked what makes him so sure that Filipinos will go back home, he says that it is a natural tendency for Filipinos to go back home. "Be successful, then you can really give back." "We would like to see you, Filipino entrepreneurs, after you become successful, to give/pay back to the country."

"The Philippines will be Center of Technology in 20 years! To have inclusive growth, Entrepreneurship and education for the poorest must be part of economic movers priorities using Innovation and Technology. Study well and work hard, find something you love. Take risk and not give up after first failure."

“Culture is one of our strengths as people. But it is also a disadvantage as we tend to mix things up because we are usually patient," says Banatao. I have to agree because it's the only thing that both lifts and drags us down.

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.


Poverty was not a hindrance to Banatao. He persevered to reach his dreams and developed the first Ethernet controller chip that enabled computers to link up to and communicate with one another, hastening the spread of network computing.

I’d say that at least 30 percent of each computer in the world today has got a Banatao (invention) in it. The technologies he invented, and the companies he founded, make up today’s (indispensable) personal computer. In other words, Dado Banatao has made the computer lighter, faster, less expensive, more fun and easier to use.

He knows that a genius is 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration. "I AM NOT SO SPECIAL, BUT I AM DETERMINED." Now everyone in the tech industry knows him as a legend.

DREAM... BELIEVE... ACT... ACHIEVE. a true pinoy icon, that should serve as an inspiration not just for our youth but for the nation, especially with such humble beginnings. Am sure theres alot he can do to influence change and promote education, let alone develop our IT industry

“My story could be your story. As Filipinos, it must be our story” says Banato. “…be competitive, take risks, and work hard. You have to keep on improving yourself…” "....I was excited, but I was also intimidated. Everyone seems smarter than I was. So I studied twice as hard....We know hardship. It's time we learn success."

Build grit in our children. Where grit - passion and perseverance for long term goals - together with a growth mindset - to believe that the ability to learn can change with effort and that failure is not a permanent condition - are key predictors of success. As a parent, I can only hope that I have nurtured my children in times of failure and adversity in a such way that will set them on a path to success.

"Saan man tayo nanggaling, mapa Ayala Alabang man or sa pinakatoktok ng mount everest, our time is the same. May 24 hours tayo sa isang araw. The greatest democratizer is to use our education to create an output that is of high value and high quality."

Mabuhay to Mr. Diosdado "Dado" Banatao, and we would like to thank him for giving back to the Philippines, and the world.

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