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Jacques Benkoski
Jacques Benkoski
Jacques is a venture partner at US Venture Parners and focuses on international investments. Jacques is executive chairman of Synfora and is a board observer at Kilopass, Trusteer and Dune Networks. He was previously chairman of Certess, CEO of Monterey Design Systems and held management positions … More »

Of investors, bloggers and customers

July 24th, 2009 by Jacques Benkoski

Much hay has been made recently of industry transitions with the first two categories and their role in the development and adoption of new technologies. Of investors, people have said that they have been risk averse and reluctant to put money in new startups in semiconductors or in the semiconductor ecosystem of which EDA is part. I beg to differ as I have the chance to see a blooming set of very successful semiconductor startups that are only waiting for the IPO market to reopen to have the world know how well they are doing. I also had the chance to observe that EDA investment is a specialist’s sport but those who know the art still know how to build new technology, bring it to market and provide return to shareholders and founders. Of bloggers, as recently as two weeks ago, controversy was raging about what classifies a blogger, how independent do they need to be to be from an EDA or Semiconductor company to be credible and what is the relationship between bloggers and the regular press. I want to lay one in front of the people who are the main beneficiaries of the new technologies: the CUSTOMERS.

I have observed a continuing trend over the last 10 years of customers not wanting to speak about the technologies they are adopting and forbidding their employees to speak out. It started with the famous “well known microprocessor company” whom you could not even acknowledge having as a customer in your investor presentation. But the trend has extended and is now pervasive. I know for example that Synfora has a customer that went from using the product on one design to using it on 40 designs in one year but they won’t talk. Another one sent an email to the company entitled “PICO results are SWEET” (caps in the original email) and showed that it was now beating hand design in every category but for both of them it would take weeks of begging and hassling for authorization. In another domain, one semiconductor company won a major socket with “a major networking company” but the world will probably never hear of it until they go public and have to disclose customers above a certain percentage. When Certess was acquired by Springsoft earlier in the year, it had 50 active design sites but with a few notable exceptions most were never made public.

There was a time when people were competing for being recognized as early adopters of technology. Companies were proud to author papers in conferences showing how a new concept was being applied on their product development. Engineers would get plaques for publications and those were recruitment tools to get the best graduates to join their companies. Now when you look at user forums such as Deepchip, most of the engineers have to go “anonymous” and carefully disguise who they are before they can even acknowledge using a new technology.

So dear customers, we love you, we work long hours to develop the new technologies that will continue to propel you forward but we need your help to be able to help you. If you want new technologies to be developed and if you want to have investors plow money on your behalf, then we need your help. Come back to the proud tradition of publicizing engineering innovation and adoption. Write about what you do, blog about what you use, accept to be quoted and interviewed and I am sure this will greatly increase the selection of the best technologies….for your own benefit !

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