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Icera exit is good news for startups

Rick Clucas
5/16/2011 08:16 AM EDT

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rickclucas
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
rickclucas   5/23/2011 5:34:40 PM
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Hi Simon In the UK and Europe Icera has been having that effect for many years. Most VCs I know who had not invested in Icera are surprised that the investors got anything back, if that is someones expectation than this was a good deal. My article was highlighting the what I hope will prove to be a positive change in the UK/European semi market for start-ups but I dont expect to see another big play like Icera come out of the UK. The UK has a good record with IP companies (ARM/ Immagination Technologies) and specialised Fabless companies(CSR. interesting ones to watch are XMOS and EoSemi), I hope that they will find things slighlty easier over the next 12 months. VCs raised there funds based on certain investment criteria, they are under pressure to invest those funds not to just sit on the money and take a management fee.

Simon7382
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
Simon7382   5/21/2011 9:07:27 PM
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Well, if this is supposed to be a good deal for the VC-s who invested in Icera then I am not sure what your definition of a "good deal" is. The net present value of $200 million invested over 9 years is for sure more than what Nvidia paid. Assuming that Icera had some usable technology Nvidia made a very good deal, while all the VC-s who invested in Icera lost money (based on any reasonable financially sound calculation). If anything this exit will diminish the chances for any future IC start-ups to get VC funding. And, it is hard enough as it is.

Silicon-IP
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
Silicon-IP   5/21/2011 6:03:04 PM
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"...a Fabless Semi company doing a digital SOC without using a lot of external IP are gone". Indeed. The time and delayed-cost associated with IP acquisition must be minimized to capture these effiecnies. Silicon-IP, Inc is an advisory service founded by industry experts in 3rd party due diligence and licensing. This is one small, but impactfull step for new start-ups to get to profit.

rickclucas
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
rickclucas   5/19/2011 12:23:10 PM
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Hi Alexio Please dont read my thoughts as being that Icera is a good example of VC Semiconductor Investment, the whole point of the aritcle is that for many years Icera has been having a negative effect on VC Investment in the UK/ Europe in Semiconductors for the reasons that you state, now that they have had an exit that negative effect no longer exists and there are some very important lessons to be learnt. I am very happy for Sequans and Inside as they are both great companies who have managed to grow steadily, they have not required massive amounts of investment and have been seen by the VC's I have spoken to other the last few years as psoitives for keeping investing in Semis. I hope 2011 will be a positive year for Semi start-ups after about 10 negative years. Rick

alexio
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
alexio   5/19/2011 7:35:53 AM
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Rick, first of all, i do not believe that Icera is a good exemple of VC investment in semiconductor that makes the VC happy and willing to invest again in a semicon company (too much money, too much work, too much stress and fear for a weak return...). i did always understand the rational of Icera (becoming the future Qualcomm out of EUrope) and i believe the VCs were great in trying this adventure ! i think you are missing other interesting exit in europe in the semicon area: - French Sequans COmmunications just did an IPO on Nyse (the first french company going public since 2000) (315m$ mkt cap) - French Inside Secure just announced the IPO filing at Nyse (mkt cap to be defined !!) - Gigle Networks sold to broadcom for 75m$ in all these 3 companies the VCs are going to make or made nicer returns than in Icera.... bye and other to follow.

rickclucas
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
rickclucas   5/17/2011 11:17:56 AM
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Jonathanmay you are in right in saying that the returned funds are not going to be reinvested into semis, however that is because in most cases the money will be returned to the investors in the funds, which they may decide to invest in new funds. What it does do is lift a big dark cloud that will free up funds from those investors and give a bit more confidence to other investors to think about investing again in a whole range of related sectors. I think the days of being able to raise investment for a Fabless Semi company doing a digital SOC without using a lot of external IP are gone. But change any one of those parameters and the risk is less and it becomes more likely. How long it will take and which sectors will gain time will tell. But I for one feel more confident about UK semis today than I did 2 weeks ago.

jonathanmay
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
jonathanmay   5/16/2011 11:45:23 PM
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In short, I think this is good news for web/mobile startups ;-)

jonathanmay
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
jonathanmay   5/16/2011 11:40:32 PM
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This is not right. Yes, it is great that the funds managed to release the money (and hence cash liquidity) they sunk into Icera, but the idea that they would now reinvest this in semi/chip/related startups given how close they came to taking the bullet is crazy. You are right, in my opinion, to say that licensing might be a good route to go. For now, the spotlight of the European semi startup industry must turn to Picochip and XMOS - at different stages but both clearly targeting the $1bn+ IPO.

rickclucas
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
rickclucas   5/16/2011 9:30:53 PM
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I hope so as well! I think that the fact that the investors got a return on this is amazing! It was not what I was expecting or what most of the VCs I have spoken to over the last 7 years were expecting. My fear had been they would die or get acquired for sub $10m. My hope is that the lesson that will be learnt is that a good product and with the right business model along with a tightly controlled cost base can produce a good return. It is also much wiser to spread your investment risks across a large group of investments, I think for some Icera was a very large percentage of Funds invested.

lcovey
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re: Icera exit is good news for startups
lcovey   5/16/2011 8:24:29 PM
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I hope you are right but I have my doubts. This was less than a 2x return on investment, which is a less than acceptable return to most investors. this had more of the form of a fire sale. The only positive I can see out of this is the continuing trend of companies buying technology, to keep it from dying altogether, when they cannot find the innovation within their own organizations to match it.

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