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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Auld Lang Syne: Forte Design moves on …

February 6th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

When it comes to talking about Forte Design, only one word comes to mind: Classy. There’s always been a consistency of messaging, spirit and optimism comprising the public face of Forte, and no small part of that has been the spirit and personable styling of the VP of Marketing & Sales, that ultimate ESL Evangelist, Brett Cline.

Late yesterday afternoon, when I saw in an email blast from Semiconductor Engineering that Forte had been sold to Cadence, I was astonished [oh no, not another company sucked into the EDA Consolidation Vortex !?!], so I shot an email off to Brett and asked if he could make time for a phone call. True to form, he called me at 6 pm California time, which was 9 pm in snowy Massachusetts where Brett lives and works.

For the next 20 minutes, I listened to what has become the new normal in EDA: A great, albeit smallish company was made a “very fair offer” and although it may not have been the exit I myself would have predicted some years ago for Forte, Brett said that selling the company to a large EDA player is, today, the right and true decision for good leadership of good smallish companies in the industry.

All that being said, I noted an undercurrent of wistfulness in Brett’s voice. He wanted me to know how very much Forte Design has been run like a family company, that he felt about his co-workers at Forte as if they were family, and the fact that not all of them will be moving over to Cadence with the acquisition was making him profoundly sad last night. Profoundly sad.

Nonetheless, Brett and his co-execs at Forte will be moving to Cadence and the opportunities there, per Brett, are marvelous. He admires Cadence and is glad, given that Forte was going to be sold, that Cadence is where they’re landing. He admires the corporate culture at Cadence, thinks the management there respects the skills and technology being acquired with Forte, and thinks that not only is it a win for Cadence, but it’s a total win for Forte’s legions of loyal customers around the world.

Brett was both very happy last night and very sad – a difficult mix, like snow and rain, which produces sleet. Thank goodness sleet is only a passing phase in any storm, because all snow or all rain is so much easier to deal with.

Anyway, no conversation with Brett Cline about the future of Forte could exclude a conversation about the future of DAC [now an even more limited show, in my opinion] and a discussion of bagpipes.

For a number of years, the personable and spirited Forte Design has sponsored a bagpiper, or bagpipers, in their booth to offer up an “Amazing Grace” soundtrack to the closing moments of the Design Automation Conference.

Given that Forte will no longer be a separate exhibitor at DAC 2014, what about the bagpipes, I asked Brett. He had an instantaneous answer to that question.

Paraphrasing Brett here, who was paraphrasing Scarlett O’Hara last night, “If I have to pay for it myself, as godismywitness, there will be a bagpiper in the closing moments of DAC 2014 in San Francisco. There will be a bagpiper!”

Thank goodness!

After all, in the end … power, money, investors, mergers, acquisitions, technology, code, ESL, RTL, blah blah blah … it all comes down to the guys in the skirts, the guys who wheeze out a few minutes of achingly beautiful, forlorn goodbyes each year at DAC. Why that is, I don’t know. It’s a mystery as old as that of system-level design.

Forte Design Systems, you will be missed!



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One Response to “Auld Lang Syne: Forte Design moves on …”

  1. Mike Mercado says:

    As a former Chronology employee (Chronology merged with Cynapps to create Forte in 2001), I can truly attest to the ‘family’ aspect of the operation. Company meetings were more family reunion than corporate hubris. I count all those at Forte as my closest friends – Brett, Mark, Sean, Dave, and a host of other execs, sales, marketing, staff, and AE’s that made my 6 years there a true blessing.

    There are a few things I miss about EDA. Bagpipes at the end of a show is certainly one of them. If you’re buying, I may just have to be at the next show to hear them again. But there better be Scotch on the other side of the performance!

    Congrats to the little company that could. You fought the good fight and took the company and technology further than many pundits thought possible.

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