IP Marketplaces

A purist would describe an e-marketplace vendor as one who charges a transaction fee or a usage fee while enabling buyers and sellers to locate each other. Internet aside, tradeshows and swap meets are examples of the later. Other examples for finding dentists, houses, cars, apartments, dates and so forth abound. A good example of the former would be Ticketmaster, who sold 98 million tickets valued at $5 billion in 2004 for hundreds of leading arenas, stadiums, performing arts venues, museums, and theaters. A better example would be eBay, “The World's Online Marketplace” for the sale of goods and services by a diverse community of individuals and small businesses. Founded in September 1995, today, the eBay community includes more than a hundred million registered members from around the world. In 2004 eBay had revenue of $3.27 billion. Some firms function like an e-marketplace but generate revenue from selling tools to create, edit and manage on-line catalogs, from selling marketing and branding support and so forth rather than from a percentage of individual sales.

Founded in 1996, GlobalSpec, Inc. is a leading specialized search engine and information resource for the engineering community. Engineers and technical buyers regularly use GlobalSpec in their work process to search for and locate products and services, learn about suppliers and access comprehensive technical content on standards, patents, materials properties, specifications, designs, application notes and more. GlobalSpec's trademarked search technology, SpecSearch, allows users to search by specification more than 78 million parts in 1,200,000 product families from more than 12,500 electrical, mechanical, optical and manufacturing OEM and distributor catalogs. Suppliers representing their products and services on GlobalSpec gain a comprehensive marketing program designed to promote their brand and generate, track and manage highly-qualified sales leads. GlobalSpec has created SpecSearch Pro, a turnkey hosted search technology solution offering a specification-driven search system tailored to a company's own product line. GlobalSpec offers multiple levels of online marketing for suppliers, service providers and distributors as well as a number of branding opportunities.

In 2004, GlobalSpec introduced The Engineering Search Engine, a vertical search engine. The firm also unveiled The Engineering Web - 200 million tech-centric Web pages including application notes, standards, patents and material properties filtered from the World Wide Web for their engineering-relevance. In 2004 sales volume grew 65% while its registered base of worldwide engineering and technical users grew 86% to more than 1,700,000.

As described above e-marketplace would seem to involve only existing products. An e-marketplace can also be used for yet to be developed custom offerings. Here a potential buyer would submit requirement specifications, request for proposals and request for quotes. Suppliers would describe their development and service capabilities and respond to the postings from potential buyers.

Now that we have covered the waterfront, let us return to world of IP and some e-marketplaces in this arena.

VCX Software


The Alba Centre initiative, launched in December 1997 by the Scottish Enterprise, a government economic development agency, had at its heart the mission to develop Scotland as a leading world centre of microelectronic product design and technology. The main elements of the Alba Centre initiative were the Virtual Component Exchange, the Institute for System Level Integration and the development of the Alba Campus, the physical embodiment of the Alba vision.

In October 2000 the Virtual Component Exchange (VCX), an e-commerce organization with global electronics industry backing, announced the launch of the world's first Internet-based, regulated trading exchange for semiconductor intellectual property (SIP, often called virtual components). The idea was to create a virtual "trade floor" from which ip buyers and purchasers could negotiate and conclude deals. The B2B marketplace and services is located at www.thevcx.com, and has extensive links throughout the Internet to member and portal partner websites.

The launch of the exchange was the result of two year's of industry input on a standard, efficient and safe way for companies to buy and sell the critical building blocks that comprise today's complex silicon chips. On April 23, 2001, the VCX announced the first trade using its TransactionWare toolset for a contract worth several hundreds of thousands dollars by leading IP and design services supplier Tality Corp.

When Scottish government funding dwindled, VCX Software, Ltd. was created in 2003 to take over The Virtual Component Exchange and to sell database solutions to both IP buyers and sellers. In November 2004 Beach Solutions acquired the firm.

Beach Solutions is a provider of Electronic System Level (ESL) design tools. Beach's EDA tools fit into any design flow to enable hardware/software co-design from high-level system specification through the development of manufacturing tests. The company enables the creation of high quality intellectual property for system on chip, embedded software and component-based design styles. Beach Solutions, founded in 1999, is a venture funded, privately owned company with $7.2 million received to date. The second round of funding for $3M closed in May 2004. MTI Partners is the lead funding partner. Beach Solutions operates on a worldwide basis with its European headquarters based in Reading, United Kingdom and U.S. headquarters in San Jose, CA. The VCX staff, technology and IP are transferring to Beach. VCX Software will continue operation as a wholly owned subsidiary of Beach Solutions Ltd.

In February 2004 VCX launched an IP portal website providing detailed information on IP, IP Providers, and IP information systems. The VCX Gateway server technology powers the global network of Portal Partners and websites that utilize a search engine supplied by VCX Software Ltd. The VCX Gateway server hosts the publicly available, aggregated, information, meta-data, and deliverables from IP providers and Design Houses around the globe. This data is made available to the ever-expanding network of Portal Partners, including EDACafe. The on-line IP catalog can be searched by company name, keyword, or by VSIA VCT Market Segment and Class descriptions.

Through this portal, users and providers can gain access to, and experience the VCX Gateway IP repository and listing technology. This underlying technology provides the backbone for private CRM, Fulfilment and Private-Exchange solutions for IP providers, and the emerging sourcing requirements of IP Users. IP Provider Partners have full edit-access to their own IP information and company data on the VCX Gateway, allowing easy modification and promotion opportunities. IP Provider Partners can extend this core-capability with modules for IP management and customer fulfillment streamlining the e-marketing process and helping them to scale their business in this challenging landscape.

To IP providers VCX offers three marketing packages (Bronze, Siler, and Gold) ranging in price from $3,500 to $7,000 and differing in terms of the amount of support offered for promotion on the portal, in the newsletter and so on.

IP Master is a catalog application supporting functions for IP capture, profiling, packaging and fulfillment of all IP meta-data and deliverables. The software has built-in functions to create single IP or multiple IP XML-packages for delivery to end customers, be it internal or external to the IP provider's company. Additional workflow business logic can be implemented to deliver full IP CRM capability.

On April 26, 2004 VCX announced an agreement with chip-estimation and optimization specialist Giga Scale Integration Corporation that will link VCX Software's IP access and management technology into Giga Scale's new chip planning suite, InCyte. VCX Software's library of information on more than 2500 IP blocks augments InCyte's database containing over 1300 soft IP components and several hundred foundation IP libraries (standard cell, memory and I/O). The resulting data can be used to build a Silicon Virtual Model (SVM) of chip including detailed specifications, floorplan and Bill of Materials for the IP on the chip. InCyte's capabilities allow optimization to occur at both the architectural and implementation levels taking full advantage of data found in the spec's of the IP and their design kits.

Design & Reuse (D&R), a privately held company, was founded in October, 1997 as a web portal for added-value information in the field of electronic virtual component, i.e. IP and SoC. The D&R Center was incubated at the University of Grenoble in 1997 through a joint effort with the European Authorities and MEDIA (one of Europe's advanced technology research programs). Representatives of the semiconductor industry doing business in and around Grenoble also threw development money into the mix. In 1998 CMP media INC acquired 19% share. Gabriele Saucier, who has retired from the University of Grenoble, is co-founder and director of the center.

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