You're an engineer, you start a fine company and have fun doing it for many years. When do you sell?
"We're engineers, we're not investors. We've been doing it for fun,
we've been growing organically. But to stay relevant, we're going to
have to grow with that risk [and] we have to double every two years,
every process generation, to stay relevant, because companies don't
want to source IP from a small company and other small companies,"
Rogers said. "They want to get everything [from] as few players as they
Meanwhile, established companies are struggling to develop
and maintain their own specialty IP--especially analog IP--and
patents. It mitigates or eliminates their development risk, hence
the reason Analog Bits gets queries from potential buyers.
The IP world has always been a strange place. The technology's value is
undeniable, but how to value it has never been easily resolved
(remember "star IP?"). MIPS and ARM once were the big dogs, but MIPS, a larger IP provider, has struggled in recent
years, while ARM has soared to new heights.
Last year, MIPS put itself on the market. Earlier
this month rival ARM and and Imagination Technologies divvied up
MIPS' assets. Price: $60 million.
Artisan Components, once an independent and high-flying IP company, was
acquired several years ago by ARM. In many cases, EDA companies' IP
libraries are filled with white-labeled third-party IP (Analog Bits
does Cadence's DDR memory, for example).
How long Analog Bits remains independent is an open question.
They're not rejecting the notion, but neither Rogers nor Tirupattur
is the type to take acquisition money and go sit on a beach with
an umbrella-festooned drink in hand.
Imagination divvy up MIPS
Valley Nation: California's slow bleed
Valley Nation: Forbes innovation list disses electronics