Although TDK isn’t necessarily a household name, its products are in many homes worldwide. The Japanese electronic components maker, once known as Tokyo Denki Kagaku, was founded 87 years ago by Kenzo Saito. While Saito started the company to produce ferrite, TDK has always been innovating. Since its inception, employees have made cassette tapes, VHS tapes, CD-Rs, DVDs, and an array of electronic devices. In 2005, the company started producing sensors and power components for consumer electronics. That move fueled its growth, and today, TDK has annual revenue of more than $13.56 billion.
A long string of acquisitions has helped TDK execute its ongoing growth plan. Its leaders have closed several important deals since 2016, including ones that brought companies like Chirp Microsystems and Faraday Semi LLC on board. The Chirp deal helped TDK create a US-based business line focused on ultrasonic tracking and rangefinding technology used in automotive, communications, and other sectors. Chirp’s sensors work in bright and dark conditions and even perform well in direct sunlight. TDK’s scope will help get the products to the mass market.
“We were open to the idea of becoming a part of a larger organization because the opportunity appears to give us the chance to live in the same ecosystem they are already in, and it could become a way for us to scale our business at a much faster pace,” Chirp CEO Michelle Kiang told the EE Times.
Although TDK is based in Tokyo, legal teams and other functions across the world help it thrive in key markets. In New York, Daniel Vaillant, associate general counsel and director of corporate compliance, helps TDK USA provide services to TDK’s regional affiliates. Although his team covers big businesses, Vaillant runs a lean operation with just four attorneys who provide legal and compliance services at seventeen companies. As a result, the day-to-day is varied and can involve compliance, M&A, employment, and other legal matters. “The expectation is that we consider being a general practitioner as a specialty,” he says.
Recently, the entire organization has responded to a mandate from leaders in Tokyo to enhance TDK’s global compliance program. The endeavor includes large scale compliance initiatives like antitrust and antibribery policies that are critical to any organization of similar size and scope.
In 2020, Vaillant suggested an internal review of these matters in the Americas, which he spearheaded as a major project in collaboration with auditors and outside counsel. These and other projects have cemented TDK USA’s relationship with partners like DLA Piper. Tom Gaynor, the firm’s relationship partner, said “On behalf of the whole DLA team, it’s a pleasure to support your exceptional efforts on behalf of TDK and its companies.” TDK is using Vaillant’s successful process as the framework for similar steps in other regions.
These efforts are of critical importance as TDK powers the future. The company is manufacturing and developing sensors, parts, and other products used in emerging high-tech applications in numerous fields.
TDK’s high-precision tunnel magneto resistance (TMR) sensors, originally developed for automotive applications, are prepared to equip service robots ready to take over cleaning, security, and customer service jobs once done by humans. The TMR sensors produced by TDK enable natural, fluid, lifelike, and accurate movements to help the robots perform tasks with greater efficiency.
Markets for these robots are expected to grow in two areas: industrial and service. Service robots are designed to work near people in offices or retail establishments while industrial robots work in factories and other similar facilities. TDK’s technology is leading towards wide adoption of both industrial and service robots in many parts of the world, and industry forecasters expect their popularity to grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reliable TMR sensors, which many consumers know from their smartphone’s autofocus device, are used in robotic motors to sense rotation and detect angles. Since they don’t draw much energy, they can do much more than guide robots—the sensors can control many of the devices we all rely upon every day.
The TMR sensors are just one of many products TDK has used to change the world. As the company approaches its one hundredth anniversary in 2035, it is implementing a new corporate motto called “Vision 2035.” As it moves forward, TDK is committed to finding new ways it can “contribute to culture and industry through creativity.”
DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than forty countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, positioning us to help clients with their legal needs around the world.
Our global corporate lawyers are highly experienced in supporting the world’s leading enterprises, as well as emerging start-ups and financial institutions, in their development and investment activities. From M&A and venture capital to private and public equity and debt offerings, we assist companies through all stages of their transactions to ensure successful deal outcomes.
Our knowledge of trends and benchmarks across sectors and geographies allows our clients to make strategic and transactional decisions with confidence.
Please visit us online at dlapiper.com for more information, including recent awards and accolades.