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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Dark shadows: The ugly truth of acquisitions

April 11th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

DAC is almost here and spring is in the air, so why would anybody dwell on the negative? Because although the truth often hurts, it can be cathartic to get it out in the open, especially on the eve of DAC.

And the truth is that despite all of the celebrations, PR, and instant-bazillionaire stories associated with one company being acquired by another, these acquisitions actually precipitate a world of hurt – today, tomorrow, next year, and sometimes even on into the next decade. Acquisitions are never easy and the reverberations for the people involved often last for a long, long time.

Have you ever been involved in an acquisition, been an employee of the acquire-ee or the acquire-or, know what it’s like to try to integrate one team into another? No? Really? Well then, you don’t work in EDA, that’s for sure. Because over the last several years alone, the list of companies involved in acquiring or being acquired is staggering:

Altos Design Automation, Ansys, Apache, Atrenta, Azuro, Cadence, Ciranova, Cosmic Circuits, CoWare, Denali, Extreme DA, EVE, LogicVision, Luminescent Technologies, Mentor Graphics, Magma, NextOp, nSys Design Systems, Optical Research Associates, Rsoft Design Group, SpringSoft, Synopsys, Tensilica, Valor Computerized Systems, Virage Logic.

Look at this list and imagine all of the people.

Not the senior executives who got massive golden-handshakes to leave – or not to leave – at the moment of the acquisition, but the people down in the organization who either ended up having to dust off their resumes and hit the pavement because of organizational redundancies, or ended up having to report to a manger from the other company who a) doesn’t understand the pre-existing culture of the team they now lead, or b) is inclined to hate the guys that now report to them, because a) they were rude to them once at a conference, or b) they dissed the products that their new manager is now darkly gleeful they must support.

This is indeed the stark reality of acquisitions, and it isn’t the kind of stuff that gets ironed out over a few beers in the first couple of weeks after the deal is closed.

Instead, it’s the kind of stuff that gets ground down into the fabric of the newly assembled team like fine grit gets ground down into the weave of the wall-to-wall carpeting. The kind of the carpeting, by the way, that can’t be hauled out onto the porch and freed of the grit by a good pounding with a broom. This grit stays down in the wall-to-wall and sticks to the soles of the shoes of the people who live with it, day in and day out, year in and year out.

The contentiousness, the bitterness, the rivalries, the unwillingness to cooperate with the new guys from the other company, the guys who don’t know how we do it, how it’s always been done, whose lousy standards of excellence don’t come close to matching our standards of excellence, the we versus them mentality. That’s the bitter truth behind mergers and acquisitions, particularly acquisitions.

It’s ugly stuff. Dark shadows. Lingering malignancies. A world of hurt.

So yeah, fine, go off to DAC. Have a good time. Enjoy the parties, the chotzkies, the drinks, the jokes, the camaraderie. Just don’t forget that everybody you see there is a survivor. Everybody.

With an industry like this one, which is is so completely constructed on the phenom of acquisitions – a virtual cesspool of acquisitions – you’ve just got to own up to the truth of the situation. Because although the truth often hurts, it can sometimes be cathartic to get it out into the open … or not.

See you in Austin.


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One Response to “Dark shadows: The ugly truth of acquisitions”

  1. Gary Dare (@GaryDare) says:

    Thanks for this reality check, Peggy! From the tech bust around 2000 and the recent Great Recession (whose effects are still rippling around the globe), one must always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. And it’s not just in acquisitions but also mergers and even internal reorganizations.

    And it touches EDA as much as other industries. Just before reading your article, I was on another site reading about how the US Airways flight management team in Pittsburgh (PIT) consider themselves doomed in the US-AA M&A. The new AA’s flight management will be at DFW, mostly staffed by people from the old AA.

    A Austin! 🙂

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