Yatin Trivedi on the Value of Coopetition

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in EDA, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

Yatin Trivedi has been in EDA for more than 25 years, he is currently the senior director for strategic industry alliances at Magma Design Automation Inc. What follows is a long excerpt from an opinion piece he wrote for today’s EET on Cadence decision to shrink the size of the Connections Program (bold added). It’s one of the clearest statements of the value of partner programs that I have read.

The motivation for a partnership program in any company is to better serve the customers beyond one’s ability. Although true in every industry, let’s stick to EDA vendors and chip designers to understand this better. Chip designers need design implementation, verification and analysis tools; they need various IP cores, standard cell and I/O libraries, memory compilers; they also need design services, foundry services and many more “back-end” functions to manage the production side of their hard work.

There is no single supplier to chip designers who meets all the requirements. Even when the best design implementation tools come from one vendor, verification tools are provided by another vendor and IP is delivered by multiple other vendors. Every design team has a “hodgepodge” of tools, IP and other environment helpers to make the whole flow tick. When something goes wrong, two or more vendors must work together to help the design team. Hence, the need for interoperability, reference flows, cooperation and partnership program.

For large vendors, such a program is also an excellent way of influencing smaller vendors. If one tool is feeding data into another tool, one can use a proprietary or a standard format for data exchange; or, one can use an API for tighter integration. It is much better to grow the ecosystem so the entire user base grows with it. For most us, that means working with open standards and actively promoting interoperability rather than pushing proprietary formats. We compete on superior algorithms, tool implementation, ease-of-use, and customer support; not by closing doors on others and protecting our turf through proprietary barriers.

Coopetition,” far beyond healthy competition, grows the entire industry and creates win-win-win for partners and mutual customers. It requires a mindset and a long-term management commitment. Short-term views and protective behaviors are doomed to fail. We don’t have to go far to see how leaders in similar industries are behaving; TSMC announced its OIP program with a sound win-win-win proposition earlier this year. This is what differentiates winners from losers.

Some background links:

  • Deepchip Nov-20-2008 “Can You Smell the Mendacity?
    Three days before the renewal date, Cadence evicted 48 EDA companies from their “Connections” program.
  • EET Nov-24-2008 Cadence Boots Dozens of Firms from Partnership Program
    Beleaguered EDA vendor Cadence Design Systems has removed a number of companies from membership in its Connections program, a collaborative effort the company maintains to support third-party software suppliers that offer complementary tools
  • EET Nov-25 2008 “Cadence Exec Downplays Connections Controversy
    In an interview with EE Times, Pankaj Mayor, group director of business enablement at Cadence, said membership in the Connections program is fluid and that the list of member companies changes constantly. On a continual basis, companies drop off as they are acquired, decide the program no longer has value to them, or are denied membership extension when it is determined continuing partnership does not benefit Cadence, Mayor said.

I think Pankaj Mayor slipped on the last quote and told the truth instead of saying “does not benefit Cadence’s customers” but now and then a little honesty never hurts. You also have to be worried when your company is described as “beleaguered” in an EET article.

Net Net for EDA startups: unless you have several customers in common who are willing to sponsor you for the program I wouldn’t waste any time applying to Connections.  Cadence will listen to its customers and that’s the only thing that will get you into or keep you in a program like this one. None of the major players (e.g. Cadence, Mentor, Synopsys) are interested in helping your firm get established in the marketplace or seeing you prosper. They are not necessarily against you but they are not for you. If you can get a few customers who want your solution to work better with an incumbent, and are willing to go to bat for you then rely on them to get you into the program.

As of this evening a check of the Cadence Connections website reveals the following 100 companies in the program: Actel Corporation, ADIVA Corporation, Advantest Corporation, Aldec, Inc., Altos Design Automation, American Computer Aided Engineering (ACAE), ANSYS Inc., Applied Simulation Technology, Arithmatica, Inc., Artwork Conversion Software, Asset Intertech, Atrenta Inc., Azuro, Inc., Berkeley Design Automation, Inc., Bluespec, Inc., Cadalist-Enterprises,LLC, CAE Consulting, Calypto Design Systems, Inc, Carbon Design Systems, Certess, Inc., CFD Research Corporation, ChipVision Design Systems AG, ClioSoft Inc., Concept Engineering GmbH, CopperCAD Design Inc., Coupling Wave Solutions S.A. (CWS), Coventor, Inc., CST GmbH, DAFCA, Inc., Dassault Systemes Enovia Corp., Design Advance Systems, Inc., DFM, EDXACT SA, Elgris Technologies, Inc., Engineering DataXpress, Fenix Design Automation, GateRocket, Inc., Genesys Testware, Inc., Gradient Design Automation Inc, Helic S.A., Hummingbird Ltd, IC Manage, Inc., In2Fab Technology Limited, Integrand Software, Inc., Intellitech Corp., Interra Systems, Inc., Knowlent Corporation, Library Technologies, Librato, Inc., LogicVision Inc., Lorentz Solution, Inc., Lynguent, Inc., MethodICs LLC, Micrologic, Inc., MODECH Inc., Modelithics, Inc., Nangate A/S, Nano Integrated Solutions, Inc., National Instruments, OEA International, Omnify Software, Orora Design Technologies, Inc., PDF Solutions Inc., Perception Software, Perfectus Technology Inc., Phoenix Design Systems, Physware, Inc., Pinebush Technologies, Inc./S3, Productivity Engineering GmbH, Prolific, Inc., PTC, Pulsic Limited, PwrLite, Inc., Sagantec, Inc., Sequence Design, Inc., Shocking Technologies, Signal Integrity Software, Inc., Silicon Frontline Technology, Inc., Silvaco International, SKILLCAD, Inc., SoftMEMS, Sonnet Software, Inc., SpringSoft, Inc., Stratosphere Solutions, Inc., STX Cadware, Synopsys, Syntest Technologies, Inc., Taray, Inc, Test Insight Ltd, Test Systems Strategies, Inc., The MathWorks, Inc., TOOL Corporation, TransEDA Systems Ltd, Transitive Corporation, Valor Computerized Systems, Inc., Veritools, Inc., YDC Corporation, Z Circuit Automation, Zeland Software, Inc., and Zocalo Tech, Inc.

Update Dec 10: it appears that Intellitech and Tool Corporation are both still in business but have been dropped from the Cadence website in the last two weeks.

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Comments (2)

  • Nancy Zarrow

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    I can only speak to the recent experience at Crystal Technology where Omnify Software (Cadence partner) is the bridge between Cadence and their ERP system. The ROI for Crystal was phenomenal (see http://www.omnifysoft.com/customers/Success.aspx or http://www.omnifysoft.com/customers/Omnify-CrystalTechnology-PLM-Success-Story.pdf for a PDF) and our relationship with Cadence made for a very satisfied customer. No program will ever please all the people all the time, but our customers have definitely benefitted. The Omnify PLM (product lifecycle management) system is clearly complementary to the Cadence products, so it is a good fit. The Crystal example is clearly where these type programs flourish.

    Reply

  • Harry Gries

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    In light of Cadence’s pull-out from the DAC show floor this year, it is tempting to “pile on” Cadence and paint them as a company sequestering themselves from the rest of the industry in order to push a one-stop-shop portfolio of tools.

    At the risk of sounding like a Cadence apologist, lemme go against this instinct to point out some alternative points and explanations:

    1) From the list above, it’s clear that many companies remain in the Connections program, including Cadence competitors. Many of the 48 companies “booted” were actually acquired. So, the reduction in the size of the program seems to be somewhere on the order of “only” 25% and it does not seem that Cadence made these decisions solely on the basis of preventing competition.

    2) Just like other aspects of the company, there was probably some trimming that was warranted. It’s interesting that there are 100 companies listed now, perhaps a specific target? I suspect that cost reduction was a factor. If you have limited budget to allocate to the program, then you need to maximize the value of who you work with.

    3) There was probably a sentiment in the company to spend the time and effort to make Cadence tools work better with other Cadence tools, before making them work better with competitors tools.

    4) We have no knowledge if these booted companies were themselves playing fairly or if there was a significant mutual customer base (except for Magma, Mentor, and EVE).

    Only time will tell how significant these changes are.

    Reply

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