Changes in the EDA industry reflect the grim present described at the EDAC CEO Forecast event.
Judging from the number of attendees, the annual EDAC CEO forecast was a success. With the help from the San Jose Convention Center, that catered the event, attendees enjoyed very good appetizers and good wine. You can read a report of the evening event by Dylan McGrath at: EDAC panel: Grim present, but long-term optimism.
Given the state of the economy, the physical distance between Florida and California did not make it possible for me to be there in person. I do have, though, an efficient and reliable network of secret informers, who have provided me with the "human" side of the event. According to them, the presentations were full of PowerPoint slides, providing a veritable avalanche of data, so much in fact to overwhelm most attendees. Notice, for example, that even Dylan's article has no tables or figures. In fact, the correct attitude of the audience is probably best exemplified by Peggy Aycinena's behavior during the presentations.
Those of us who know Peggy can attest to the fact that she is a leading professional editor, and that she is an accomplished engineer that is not easily scared by facts and figures. If you have ever attended an EDAC event, you also know that once the presentation start, the bar is closed, and no more drinks, not even water in most cases, is available. Conditions during the presentations must have been quite dire for Peggy to take the leadership in searching, finding, and sharing more wine with some of the members of the audience. Another classic example of supply meeting demand, in spite the rules of well-meaning governing entities. How much the additional consumption of alcohol did influence the long-term optimism could not be determined in post-event interviews.
Since Aart de Geus, Wally Rhines, and Rajeev Madhavan are officers of publicly traded companies, their observations were tempered by legal constraints as well as market considerations. It would not do, in fact it would be very bad form, for any of them to predict a deep recession and a very long recovery period. So, they acknowledged the irrefutable present (the grim present), but provided reassurances (the long term optimism) to editors and financial analysts. There is always time to fine tune the future, as it becomes the present and near past, anyway.
The grim present
In a previous column, Measuring the stability of EDA vendors, I mentioned that an ESNUG post by John Cooley had listed Knowlent, Blaze DFM, and Stone Pillar are possibly out of business. It turns out that Knowlent is in fact out of business, but Stone Pillar is most certainly not. Stone Pillar depends mostly on its relationships with various foundries, and those are going quite well. Blaze DFM is still in business, although its corporate structure is likely to change in the near future. How much the events will impact present customers is still to be seen, although, according to Jacob Jacobsson, its President and CEO, users should not be impacted by its company's business moves.
Agility DS has been forced to shutter its doors, as reported in Agility DS victim of credit crunch. The company, which started its life as Catalytic and changed its name once it acquired the Celoxica product line and customers base, is a victim of the fiscal recession. In need of further cash infusion to finance its rapid expansion, it could not come to terms with its bank lenders and was also unsuccessful in obtaining additional venture capital funds. It will sell its MATLAB to C product line for which it already has one bidder, at an auction. Its ESL products, which it acquired from Celoxica, will be acquired by a major EDA company in the next few days, but certainly before January 26.
I am sorry to see Agility DS fail. Its management team has a proven success record, and no one can accuse them of serious management errors. The possible exception: being too optimistic in a time of grim financial realities.