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Acquiring Mentor: Four Good Ideas, One Great

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.


Calling Srivastava, Madhavan, Rowen, Kranen: ESDA needs you on November 1st

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.


Morphing Mentor: Haiku haunts Wilsonville

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.


The Dictates of Fate: Andrzej Strojwas receives 2016 Kaufman Award

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.


PCB Tools, Part 2: Request for info

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.


ESDA Market Timing: I’ve got the horse right here

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?


Dancing Queens: Armstrong Kendall & The Soul of EDA

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.


Real Intent: A sustained culture of Respect & Innovation

Thursday, August 25th, 2016


Real Intent, a Silicon Valley-based EDA company
, has been underway since 1999. That’s a lot of time for a company to continue to succeed amidst the shifting sands of an industry that specializes in either acquiring smaller companies or under-cutting their prices until the smaller companies simply close their doors.

In other words, Real Intent is a survivor and tells a remarkable story of steady perseverance and a well-established, respectful relationship with its customer base. Without both of these things, the company could not have remained viable.

This week, I enjoyed an excellent phone call with company CEO, Prakash Narain, a conversation of particular interest because Dr. Narain spoke candidly of the challenges that face small EDA companies in the current business climate.


SNPS & OneSpin: Saving for Rainy Day not always Best

Thursday, August 18th, 2016


As of August 17th, when they posted financial results for Q3_2016
, Synopsys is reporting somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion in cash and cash equivalents. As prudent as it may be to save for a rainy day, here’s something a bit more creative the company could do with a portion of that cash: Buy OneSpin.

Why? Because OneSpin offers something that Synopsys doesn’t have – a market-leading position in formal verification. OneSpin would bring that to Synopsys, along with a strong, well-established track record and proven customer engagements across European, North American and Asian markets.


TetraMAX II: Synopsys renovates and innovates

Thursday, August 11th, 2016


It takes courage to re-launch an existing product rather than start from scratch
, to announce a refreshed and updated offering as if it were something brand new. That’s certainly the case with Synopsys‘ recent release of TetraMAX II. It took courage to build on a franchise that first arrived on the scene not just in the last century, but in the last millennium.

And it was with this sentiment that Synopsys’ Robert Ruiz and I started a recent phone call to discuss the July news that TetraMAX II has arrived on the scene.

Ruiz began: “This is TetraMax II. We wrote the key engines from scratch, an effort that took the R&D team a full two years to complete. The goal was to get 10x faster and 25-percent fewer patterns.”


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