Loyal readers fondly recall the first appearance in April of last year of an article in this writer’s EDA WEEKLY series that focused on a privately-held EDA enterprise, after five consecutive articles that preceded it had covered four public companies :
- Mentor Graphics MAD - Flomerics CFD Acquisition (Dec 07, 2009)
- Virage Logic - Electronics Intellectual Property (IP) (Dec 22, 2009)
- Agilent EEsof EDA I - Hi Frequency Design & Simulation (Feb 01, 2010)
- Altium Limited - Affordable PCB/FPGA/Embedded Software (Mar 01, 2010)
- Agilent EEsof EDA II - Hi Frequency Design & Simulation (Mar 29, 2010)
That first privately-held EDA enterprise was of course:
Most EDA afficiados quickly forgave the writer’s allusion to the 1950 movie All About Eve in the title of the April 26, 2010 EDA WEEKLY, when they realized that EVE (Emulation Verification Engineering) occupied a unique niche in the esoteric world of EDA Hardware/Software Co-Verification, ASIC Emulation, RTL Emulation, Hardware Emulation, ASIC Validation, ASIC Prototyping and FPGA Prototyping.
Readers may refresh their memories at any time by accessing last year’s article:
Indeed, when the writer recently spoke to the principal figure referenced in that article,
Dr. Lauro Rizzatti, it was in connection with his willingness to participate on our
ONE YEAR LATER program, wherein each enterprise featured last year has a chance to provide 500 words to update readers on that company’s progress after 12 months had passed.
However, given the frequent appearance of EVE in the industry news lately, plus the excellent progress technically and business-wise that EVE has made, the ONE YEAR LATER plan quickly evolved to a full article. Of course, the fact that the other two privately-held companies featured to date in these pages ( Real Intent & Lynguent) had already garnered two articles... well, that fact had nothing to do with Lauro’s enthusiasm.
The writer caught up with the peripatetic Rizzatti recently in between Lauro’s flight from Japan to the SF Bay Area, followed only a few days later by another trans-oceanic flight to EVE HQ in Paris. Such frequent flying probably explains Dr. Rizzatti’s fascination with his “airplane analogy,” as we shall see in the sequel.
EDA WEEKLY: Lauro, the worldwide economy got back on the road to recovery in 2010 after what many experts are calling the “Great Recession” of 2008-09. How has your relatively young and relatively small company EVE performed during these trying years?
2010 was a heck of a year. As the world economy struggled to convince us that it was summoning the wherewithal for growth, EVE’s sales rocketed ahead by 50% year-to-year. That’s pretty heady stuff in the best of times. And yet, compared to 100% compound annual growth rates in the past, and on the heels of some tough times, perhaps it represents more of a sigh of relief than a lusty huzzah.
Piloting a small company to significance is not unlike piloting an airplane. You’ve got lots of ground prep before you can even think of going airborne. If everything is done right, you can then take to the air. And, given skills and, perhaps, some favorable conditions, you can streak skyward at a dizzying pace.
But if you try to take too much air at a time, the plane will ultimately refuse to cooperate, and your ascent will stall. Once this happens, it takes all the effort you can muster to get the plane back on a sustainable forward course and keep it from crashing earthward.
This pattern – prep, take-off, stall – is not uncommon to companies that grow more quickly than they can keep up with. Sometimes it’s a result of management pushing too hard; sometimes it’s the “good” problem of customers pulling too hard and the desire to fulfill that demand. The question is, what phase comes after “stall”?
EDA WEEKLY: Is that airplane analogy how you would describe EVE’s fortunes over the last few years?
Oui, EVE experienced just such a ride. At this point, we have the luxury of looking back at how it all happened. Of course, you already know the ending – we’re here to write about it from a position of restored growth in 2010 after a very challenging 2009. But it’s a chastening story that reminds us that past success entitles no one to continued good fortune. You can plan for when something goes wrong, but such plans can buckle when several things simultaneously go awry, not all of them within your control.
EDA WEEKLY: Why don’t you take us through the short history of EVE, using your airplane analogy if you like?
OK, let’s talk first about the Ground Prep. EVE was formed in 2000 by a group of R&D leaders that had worked for Meta Systems in France, a company that was purchased by Mentor Graphics in 1996. The departure of these engineers after 4 years at Mentor was not without some drama; it’s fair to say that it did not end with a happy handshake and godspeed, given the remarkable results achieved by that R&D team for Mentor at that time. They had developed what you might say was a state-of-the-art emulator called
Celaro, which was really a hit in Europe and Japan in 1999/2000:
Much as the Big Bang has a lingering echo in the form of cosmic background radiation, the departure of the Meta engineers from Mentor was somewhat of a resentful event that may itself be echoing into the present.
EDA WEEKLY: OK. How did the ex-Meta guys get their new company up and running? Where? By the way, was it called EVE then?