Thursday, November 10th, 2016
The American people have spoken and the electoral college will finalize the results shortly. The new President-elect is someone who has ridden into office on a tidal wave of enthusiasm for his professed commitments to a reduction in globalization, more tightly controlled borders, bringing off-shored jobs back home to citizens who deserve to have them, and a carefully articulated affection for nativism.
EDA is in trouble on all counts.
First of all, the EDA industry, and its associated fortunes, have been built on a powerful foundation of globalization; prominent members of the industry have quite literally lobbied long and hard to be sure that stays the case.
Mentor CEO Dr. Walden C. Rhines has, in fact, been honored multiple times by the industry’s consortium for his extraordinary leadership in helping to guarantee that EDA software is not unduly constrained by export restrictions, licensing inhibitions, or government nay-sayers.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
The best part about the ESD Alliance event last evening at the Cadence Headquarters in San Jose was that the topic material – how to prepare your enterprise to be acquired – is applicable to all manner of tech startups. And as the conversation was taped, the discussion will be available straightaway on the alliance website.
Of course, if you’re prepping for an acquisition you’ll need far more pointed advice than just this recorded conversation – you’ll need to hire experts to address your specific situation. Nonetheless, yesterday’s panel provided a great starting point.
Carefully moderated by Attorney Mark White [White Summers, Caffee & James LLP], who had clearly done his homework, each panelist added essential information to what was effectively a tutorial on pre-acquisition best practices.
Speakers included IP/Patent Attorney Dennis Fernandez [WhiteSummers], Tax Attorney Tom Maier [Fudderman Dupree], Investment Banker Neil Shroff [Orion Capital], Moodwire CEO Manu Chatterjee [founded Lampdesk, sold to Palm in 2007], and Silvaco GM for IP Warren Savage [founded IPextreme, sold to Silvaco earlier this year].
The conversation between these five gentlemen – two attorneys, a banker, and two CEOs who have survived acquisitions – was not at all glamorous. Instead, it was honest, calm, factual and amazingly short on hubris of any kind.
Turns out being acquired is a very humbling experience, that acknowledgment being one of the most important take-aways from the evening. Don’t go at the process with pretentiousness, because pride goeth before the fall, was the message.
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Last week on Friday and Saturday, the IEEE Council on EDA hosted a 2-day workshop to discuss the future of design automation. Mentor Graphics provided the venue – a large conference room in their Fremont/Silicon Valley campus – and workshop leaders, UCSD Prof. Andrew Kahng, UCSD Prof. Farinaz Koushanfa, and Intel alum/CEDA President Shishpal Rawat provided the welcome.
Over the two days, a group of 50+ attendees – representing a wide cross-section of academics and industry experts – launched into conversations that were lively, energized, at times contentious, and completely engrossing. Put simply, there was no better place on the face of the globe on October 21st and 22nd where tech junkies were more intellectually challenged and entertained than at the Design Automation Futures Workshop in Fremont.
What made the workshop so compelling? For this, their inaugural DAFW, CEDA chose to address neuromorphic computing – the ultimate hotness related to machine learning, with a lot of promise for future applications. It doesn’t get any more design futures, or futuristic, than this.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
You’ve all heard the rumors: Mentor Graphics is for sale. If it’s true, who could be buying? Let’s indulge in a gedankenexperiment to find out.
First there’s Cadence. Obviously. Mentor and Cadence both sell back-end tools and combining the two would create a powerful market-leading organization. Clearly Cadence is bigger and richer so they’d be doing the buying, but Mentor would be calling the shots. Why? Because last time these two bad hombres went through this mating dance, Mentor put the kibosh on things by orchestrating an outcry to the SEC about anti-trust. Mentor didn’t want to be bought in 2008, but now things might be different, their preferred outcome not so cut-and-dried. So Cadence is Good idea Number One.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
Congrats to the ESD Alliance for continuing to attend to myriad legal issues that surround the business of technology. On Tuesday, November 1st, the organization is hosting an evening panel on the Cadence campus entitled “Legal Steps to Maximize Your Exit Value.”
Vital topics slated for discussion include setting the proper price for intangible assets – in-house IP, strategic partnerships, and good will – and more prosaic issues such as the appropriate legal structures and pre-deal tax planning needed to help facilitate the acquisition. Most importantly, panel organizers are also promising you’ll learn “how to avoid giving it all back to your buyer later”.
Which is where our EDA M&A Hall of Fame comes in. There’s just no way this ESD Alliance panel can carry any weight with a battle-hardened EDA audience without the likes of Sanjay Srivastava, Rajeev Madhavan, Chris Rowen, and Kathryn Kranen sitting up at the front of the room.
Thursday, October 6th, 2016
In July 2008 and with much fanfare, Cadence declared its intention to purchase Mentor Graphics. The Cadence executive team was so confident the purchase would go through, then-CFO Bill Porter declared during an analysts’ call at the time: This acquisition is going to happen, Mentor needs us. Accept it and move on.
Well, people did move on. By September 2008, Cadence CEO Mike Fister, CFO Porter and the entire executive team had indeed moved on. CDNS Board member Lip-Bu Tan was named acting CEO and here, 8 years later, he continues to serve in that role.
* Results: Mentor stock in May 2008 was at about $11.50/share, by June 2008 it had moved to $16, by October 2008 it was down to less than $8, and by March 2009 was barely above $4. Ouch.
Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Dr. Andrzej J. Strojwas, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, has been named recipient of the 2016 Phil Kaufman Award for Distinguished Contributions to Electronic System Design.
Interestingly, this is the first year that the Kaufman award is being presented for contributions to Electronic System Design, not EDA. Very appropriate given that Strojwas’ contributions are in manufacturing and not design. Prof. Stojwas is CTO at PDF Solutions, which per company CEO John Kibarian has never been an EDA company. And with Kibarian serving as co-chair of the ESD Alliance, the organization formerly known as EDAC has now fully embraced its role across the entirety of electronic system design.
Besides this nod to EDAC’s ongoing evolution, the larger implications in CEDA and the ESD Alliance naming Andrzej Strojwas as this year’s Kaufman recipient are profound: The problems associated with electronic systems are not so much in the design these days, but in the extraordinary difficulties associated with manufacturing those designs. It’s really tough, as you all know, when the structures being manufactured are smaller than the wavelengths of light used to etch them.
Which bring us back to Dr. Strojwas. He has been CTO at PDF for 20 years. Back in the last century/millennium, the problems of manufacturing below 193 nanometers could only have been guessed at, yet the company was already working on the intriguing issues of capturing post-manufacturing data and somehow packaging it up to make it useful: How does the semiconductor supply chain glean vital information about the vagaries of manufacturing a real chip and send it back up to the designers so they can learn from the reality when they put pen to paper to design the next hypothetical?
This engineering of the engineering demands scientific curiosity, steely eyed attitudes towards the realities of physics and material science, and a large dollop of business savvy to navigate between the needs and demands of the foundries and the needs and demands of the designers. Let’s allow Dr. Strojwas to take it from here. We spoke by phone this week after his award was announced.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Last year a blog was posted in this space talking about tools for PCB design: PCB Tools, Part 1: Zuken, Mentor, Cadence, Altium. Lengthy and detailed, that discussion included commentary on the state of the art, and the market, for PCB design tools.
Now it’s time to assemble Part 2 of the discussion, which will be posted here in early November. This second installment intends to include input from more than just the four companies in the first article.
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
January opened with a thud this year from a stock market point of view. Just a handful of days into 2016, things looked really bad, although it got slightly better by the start of February. Since then everything’s pretty much been up and to the right – at least for the five publicly traded companies whose CEOs sit on the board of the ESD Alliance.
The question is, of those five – ARM, Cadence, Mentor Graphics, PDF Solutions, Synopsys – which company should you have discerned in January would outperform the rest by the end of August? On which horse should you have put your money back in January, so you’d be the envy of the guys in August?
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
Nothing is forever in life, most things are fleeting. And such is certainly the case for the giddy, glory days of EDA at the end of the last millennium when the likes of Abbie Kendall and Jean Armstrong ran the show — the PR show, that is, for Cadence at the height of the Ray Bingham Era.
The DAC of 1999 has already been memorialized here, in and around an homage to the late, great Marie Pistilli – but the DAC of 2000, at least the Cadence version, was even grander.
The night Cadence took their Press & Analyst constituency out on the town in June of 2000 was almost beyond belief. Remember that something like 11,000 hearty souls were on board in Los Angeles for DAC that year, the conference ramping up for the week at Staples Center just as the previous week’s Exotic Erotica Show was winding down. How appropriate.
Big money was flowing everywhere within the EDA ecosystem and the Big Players needed to demonstrate in the showiest way possible that theirs was the one that was going to dominate the next decade, theirs was the enterprise that was going to win the war.