In this interview with Ghislain Kaiser, co-founder and CEO of Docea power, we talk about the finding of a need and the ways to go about satisfying that need, including some problems along the way...
Did you get the funding from France?
Ghislain : Yes
Did they have a lot of knowledge about the EDA industry? Did you have to educate them?
That is not the right characterization of the situation. The VCs were
very well informed about EDA. The problem is that the EDA business is
not very good for VCs. In 2010 the answer was always the same. What is a
good example of success in EDA? There is no good example. The good
examples that do exist are old. But we did things differently. We
presented the company not just as an EDA company, but as a green IT
company. Green IT was a hot area for VCs, so that gave us a chance.
How easy is it to build an EDA company in France?
That is a question I have been asked before. It is an interesting
topic. Let me ask you a question. How many EDA companies do you think
there are in France, right now - today? The right answer is almost 20.
The reason is that we have a good ecosystem created by a big
semiconductor company – namely ST. That is not just the company itself,
but the Universities, many good engineers, equipment manufacturers,
research center, many of them in the Grenoble area. Out of 20, perhaps
15 are in Grenoble. So what is missing compared to Silicon Valley? Yes,
the US is important, but Japan is also important and they need some ESL
There is one thing that is missing and can only be found
in the US and most of the time in Silicon Valley. That is the guys like
you – the journalists. So, I moved to the US last year to be closer to
these people. It is easier to be more visible. So, it is the place to be
if you want to do good marketing.
Now we have customers in all of
the major areas, US, Europe and Japan. The US is about 40% of our global
available market. It is also easier to do partnerships here. It is not
impossible elsewhere and our first partnership was Synopsys while we
were still in France.
Is it just you in the US or are you building a team?
Ghislain: Yes, I am building a team. I want to hire people in the US for things like AEs because they understand the culture better.
am sure you were happy to hear Gary Smith at DAC this year talking
about the explosive growth in ESL this year. ESL has been hampered by
Ghislain: Yes. Models are the main barrier.
Customers don’t want to spend time creating models. If models do not
exist then you have to provide service. And that is a different business
model. But when the models are available you are able to become an EDA
company. Now in the power area, there is no standard. I have no magic
solution today. But we do everything we can to reduce the modeling time
necessary. Our success is dependent on ESL. Five years ago we placed a
bet not only on power but also on thermal effects. Back then it was not
clear that thermal would become a very important factor as well, but we
bet on the right horse.
I guess 3D IC will create the next level of problem here?
Exactly. So our success will come from ESL, from power and thermal,
from 3D ICs. All of these rely on exploration. Sure you need sign off
tools, but at the beginning of the design phase it is more important
that you make the right decisions. In the first 20% of your design
processes you have to make 80% of the choices for the rest of the
design. So you need tools that will help a designer architect the
solution and make the right choice. So, we don’t tell you what solution
will create the lowest power consumption, but we help you make the right
tradeoff between power, cost and performance.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned or would want to pass onto another entrepreneur?
It is very important to have a good network. Not only for business
development but to have people around you that you can learn from. You
also have to work from your own experience. Don’t listen too much
without thinking about what makes sense for your situation. You have to
develop good sense skills. For example what worked in 2000 would not
have worked in 2006. The situation changed with the economy.
To summarize – listen, think and find the right path for you.
About Ghislain Kaiser
has more than 10 years of experience in the micro-electronics industry,
where he specialized in power management. Prior to founding Docea
Power, Ghislain worked for STMicroelectronics as senior system architect
on wireless applications and before that as project leader for the
set-top box division. Ghislain has an engineering diploma from Supelec
(Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité, France), completed with the 1-year
program in innovative business management from HEC (Hautes Etudes
Commerciales, Paris, France). He is also an alumni of the business
management department of CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et
Brian Bailey – keeping you covered
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