Cerebras: A Tale of Dreams and Risks

By Mark Leslie, Amadeus Orleans
2019 | Case No. E671 | Length 12 pgs.

After selling SeaMicro, Inc. to AMD, in 2012, Andrew Feldman started a process he called “lightly sifting”, trying to stay updated on the ideas and businesses being built in Silicon Valley. Eventually, he started spending more and more time with four of his former colleagues from SeaMicro: Gary Lauterbach, Michael James, J.P. Fricker, and Sean Lie. The casual conversations quickly evolved to regular ideation sessions in which the group discussed and tried to find an idea that would allow them to “do something big.”

In March 2016, after a few months of ideation, the team stumbled on an idea that was as exciting as it was risky: a computer chip that would be 60 times bigger than the biggest chip ever made, specialized in machine learning. “It is the most audacious hardware product that most people have ever seen,” Feldman explained at the time. Now, it was time to decide: Should they pursue the business concept?

Learning Objective

The teaching objective of the case is to give students an overview of the ideation, analysis and decision-making process of founders looking to start a moonshot company.

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