So, you want to start an EDA company? CC BY-NC 2.0Lightbulb

In the almost 2 years since I started this blog, I’ve been paying pretty close attention to the EDA industry. And one of the themes I keep hearing goes something like this:

“There’s no more innovation in EDA”
I hear it on blogs and on Twitter. I hear it from design engineers, from consultants, from old media, from new media, and even from EDA people.

One person I know, someone who has been an executive at an EDA company and a venture capitalist, says that EDA is persona non-grata for VC folks. Maybe you can start a “lifestyle company” doing EDA, but don’t expect any more companies like Synopsys to come along.

And then, about a month ago, I get an email from someone out of the blue. He’s got an idea for a new EDA tool that would transform the industry. He’s been in the semiconductor business. He’s developed EDA tools. He knows everybody there is to know. And he’s not able to get anyone’s attention. As he puts it, nobody is working on anything “disruptive”. They are all doing “incremental improvements” that are “woefully inadequate”.

I spent about an hour talking to him on the phone. As I got off the phone, I was not sure what to make of the conversation. He was either insane or a visionary. He was either deluded or optimistic. He was either obsessed or determined. I’m still not sure which.

And that is what makes this industry so much frickin’ fun! You never know. That crazy idea of turning VHDL into gate-level schematics … who figured that would be the biggest innovation in design in decades?

Then, last week, I heard about this event/gathering/workshop happening during DVCon at the San Jose Doubletree. Presented by EDA veterans Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan. It’s called “So, you want to start an EDA Company. Here’s how …” And I immediately thought of my new friend with the idea about a new EDA company. This is exactly what he was looking for … an audience of people with open minds who were asking “why not” instead of “why”.

Maybe you also have a crazy idea. Maybe it really is crazy. Or maybe not.

I invited him and I hope I can get there myself. If so, I think you might want to come too.  You might just meet the founder of the next Synopsys. Here’s the skinny: San Jose Doubletree on Feb 23 at 6:30-7:30 in the Oak Ballroom.

I’ve also written a little prediction of what I expect to hear on the Xuropa Blog. Who knows? Maybe the naysayers are right and EDA is Dead. Then again, maybe not. I, for one, am dying to find out which.

harry the ASIC guy

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4 Responses to “So, you want to start an EDA company?”

  1. Lou Covey says:

    I really don’t think there is a lack of innovation in EDA. What is lacking is an understanding of the real problem that exists in their customer base. And that problem is it costs too much to make semiconductors. All 300 of the startup EDA companies have a way to make semiconductors better, but can’t explain how their tools might make their customers profitable except in very vague terms.
    So I’m hoping Paul and Jim can explain how to explain the financial benefit of a new tool.

  2. Hi Harry,

    There is definitely a problem in what is called “the EDA business”. I see two options: either mainstream EDA re-invents itself, or it will die.

    It seems that the “big three” only focus on power seats and large customers, while in fact ASIC design starts (traditionally associated with big EDA budgets) are loosing ground to FPGA design starts. Traditional companies focus on the “significant few” and not on the “long tail”.

    Building a radically new technology would be nice, but perhaps a new way of doing business is just as crucial. I hope your friend finds a way to do both, and indeed transform the industry.


  3. Souvik says:

    EDA lacks innovation because the industry has still not able to adopt marketing strategy for its business. I am not saying that EDA companies are not marketing oriented, all I am saying is that they need to more drive strategies based on marketing inputs rather than their past baggage!!

    Yes a big transformation in EDA is imminent if EDA guys start thinking like designers or verification engineers while still remembering EDA as a whole… a fine line to tread!!

  4. […] up and live on with more funding (and the innovators are rewarded); the bad ideas die out. Most small EDA companies would want to be bought out as their “exit”. At the same time, there are some […]

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