Special Nitrides Seminar - Drs. Paul Rudy and James Raring

2/22/2022 3:00PM ESB 1001 and via Zoom


Special Nitrides Seminar

Paul Rudy and James Raring

The Start-Up Journey of SLD Laser



Tuesday, February 22,2022, 3:00-4:30PM
Engineering Sciences Building1001 (in-person)

University of California, Santa Barbara


Zoom Link: https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/82859870952?pwd=alAwd3VzazBMNzdJTGNhaGZYM0N3UT09

Meeting ID: 828 5987 0952                       Passcode: 472588

Join Dr. James Raring and Dr. Paul Rudy as they take you on their 13 year journey that spawned the Goleta-based start-up company, SLD Laser, and ultimately led to the successful acquisition by Kyocera Corporation last year. They will share their unique perspectives as they faced ups and downs, navigated unexpected barriers, extracted valuable lessons on leadership, achieved “just in time” technology breakthroughs, pulled off improbable commercial wins and customer contracts, built a world-class team, and all while traveling the world to fundraise and manage strategic and financial shareholders.


James, Paul, and fellow SLD Laser co-founders, Professors Steve DenBaars and Shuji Nakamura, along with General Counsel Richard Ogawa, formed an exceptional team with special chemistry, complimentary skill sets, and the grit needed to withstand the trials and tribulations of the journey. In this presentation, James and Paul will take you back to the beginning of Soraa Inc., sharing the circumstances and many lessons learned that inspired the 2013 SLD Laser spinout and growth strategy that would follow. Over the following 8 years, while facing tremendous adversity and obstacles, the small SLD Laser spinout grew to a 200-person organization with global operations for manufacturing of commercial and automotive products while driving a vision to pioneer the future of light. Despite the innumerable technology pivots, market focus changes, and exceptionally challenging shareholder and geopolitical circumstances, SLD Laser triumphed and secured a bright future within Kyocera Corporation to become Kyocera SLD Laser (KSLD) in 2021.


In the presentation, they will share insights from their SLD Laser start-up journey and offer advice on pursuing a career in the high-tech industry. Earning their PhDs in the field of laser technology and physics, James and Paul have backgrounds and experiences that are certain to resonate with UC Santa Barbara undergraduate and graduate students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

HOST: Dr. Tal Margalith, Professors Steven DenBaars and Shuji Nakamura

Dr. James W. Raring, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-Founder

Dr. James Raring is President, Chief Executive Officer, and a Co-Founder of KYOCERA SLD Laser. As President and CEO, he leads the organization and drives innovation and growth with the commercialization of LaserLight products based on KSLD’s breakthrough gallium nitride (GaN) technology and manufacturing platform. Prior to KSLD, Dr. Raring was a Vice President of Engineering and a founding employee at Soraa Inc. where he helped launch the company, grow the organization, and led the laser product team. Previous to Soraa, Dr. Raring served as a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in the Photonic Integrated Circuit group developing high-functionality optoelectronic devices for telecom and optical logic applications. While earning his Ph.D. in Materials Science and serving as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr. Raring developed an advanced photonic integration platform based on indium phosphide to demonstrate the world’s first single-chip 40 Gb/s optical transceiver. Dr. Raring has over 300 patents and applications and has authored or co-authored over 100 technical papers and conference presentations.

Dr. Paul Rudy, Chief Marketing Officer, SVP Business Development, and Co-Founder

Dr. Paul Rudy is CMO and SVP of Business Development at KYOCERA SLD Laser, a leader in the commercialization of GaN based laser light sources for automotive, specialty lighting, and display applications. Dr. Rudy co-founded SLD Laser in 2013 along with Nobel Prize winner Professor Shuji Nakamura and solid state lighting pioneers Professor Steve DenBaars and Dr James Raring. Paul and his co-founders led SLD through strong growth with the commercialization of award winning products including multiple LightFair International Top Innovation Prizes, Strategies in Light Sapphire Awards, and SPIE Prism Awards. Paul has worked in the field of photonics for more than 20 years, and has extensive experience in photonics general management, technical product marketing, business development, and product management. Prior to SLD, Paul worked as Director of Marketing and Market Development Manager at Coherent, the world's largest commercial laser manufacturer, specifically working to commercialize laser light sources for industrial, biomedical, and defense and security applications. Dr. Rudy received his doctoral degree in physics from the University of Rochester, MBA from USC, and undergraduate physics B.S. from Duke University.