Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
Jasper DA: What the Future Holds
December 12th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
At a recent tech conference in Silicon Valley, I had a chat with a long-time EDA player; let’s call him Elmer. The conversation came around to Jasper Design Automation and conjectures as to what’s ahead for the company. I recounted a small compare and contrast.
At the 2008 February EDAC CEO Forecast Panel, Jasper CEO Kathryn Kranen was on stage along with Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus, Mentor CEO Wally Rhines, and then-Cadence CEO Mike Fister. During the panel discussion, Kranen criticized the Big EDA companies on the panel for their ‘all you can eat’ business strategies – the big companies providing less-than-best-in-class point tools for free to customers who purchased their anchor products, which Kranen said made it nearly impossible for the smaller companies to compete.
Yet by February 2011, at the same annual EDAC CEO event, it seemed that Kranen’s attitude towards the Big EDA players had changed. Though not on the 2011 panel, conversation with Kranen that evening included no criticism of the Big Companies, but instead a spirited defense of collegiality within the industry and the need for companies to cooperate.
After hearing my observations comparing 2008 with 2011, Elmer responded with several of his own. He said he believes that in 2008 Jasper was still hoping to grow bigger and go IPO, but by 2011 the exit strategy had evolved to one of acquisition. He argued that by 2011, Kranen needed to establish and maintain cordial relations with the Big EDA companies, which is why there seemed to be a change in attitude.
As far as going IPO, Elmer said I needed to look at the lead VC on the Board of Directors for Jasper, Lucio Lanza. He said if you look at Lanza’s track record shepherding companies from founding through exit, it’s the rarity for such a company to go public. In Elmer’s opinion, Lanza prefers to groom companies for acquisition, not IPO. Jasper is ripe for acquisition, Elmer believes, and we should expect to see such a move happen sooner rather than than later.
I have to say I was surprised by Elmer’s adamant opinions: Jasper has put out a lot of muscular vibes over the last several years, including news of an additional $7 million in funding in 2011 and several patent announcements in 2012. In 2013, it’s true, the news has been more about partnering and less about infusions of capital or new patents, but does that point to an acquisition in the near future? It’s just a matter of time, according to Elmer, because Jasper is strong and would be a positive addition to one of the Big EDA guys.
In the meantime, Jasper’s Kranen took on the role of EDAC Chair in 2012. Nonetheless, she did not appear on the panel for the 2013 CEO Forecast event in March. Perhaps that’s not surprising considering that EDAC always puts the Big Company CEOs on stage each year – these days that translates to Synopsys, Mentor, Cadence and ARM – and just one small company. Last year it was Gradient; this year it was Nimbic.
I’m hoping that in 2014 EDAC will put Kathryn Kranen back on the panel. Surely it’s Jasper’s turn and a courtesy owed Kranen for her leadership of EDAC. If that happens, I’m also hoping that both Elmer and I will be in the audience. Afterwards, I’ll be sure to track him down to hear what he’s learned by studying the repartee between Kranen and the other panelists.
Perhaps therein will be a hint as to which of the Big Guys will be acquiring Jasper. I’m not as confident as Elmer about all of this, but I can’t prove the future, only the past, so we’ll all have to wait it out together to see what the future holds for Jasper DA, in the sooner or the later.
Tags: EDAC, Jasper Design Automation, Kathryn Kranen, Lucio Lanza