Nusym De-cloaks 4

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, EDA, skmurphy, Startups

Venk Shukla, CEO of Nusym, commented on Nusym De-cloaks 3 on Dec 4

We had met a long time ago but lost touch afterward. The points you make about website credibility are valid. We will measure the information we put out against this criteria once we decide to emerge from the shadows. Thanks for paying attention, anyway.

I think Nusym has emerged from the shadows because Richard Goering, the dean of EDA journalism, has just posted an entry about Nusym called “Tracking an elusive verification startup” on his new blog, that includes an interview with Shukla.

Veteran EDA user and consultant Sean Murphy brought Nusym to light earlier this year in his blog, which covers a variety of topics including EDA. Murphy has some interesting comments about the claims made in Nusym’s web site.

See also Nusym De-cloaks from Oct 21 and Nusym De-cloaks 2 from Oct 22 for a critique of the site and some suggestions for other startups. But the next sentence shows the difference between a journalist blogging and a consultant blogging: Goering picked up the phone got an interview.

Intrigued, I put in a call to Venk Shukla, Nusym CEO. I asked him about the claim that Nusym’s technology will be as revolutionary as logic synthesis. “With logic synthesis, instead of focusing on individual gates, people started focusing on the outcome, and the tool did the rest,” Shukla said. “With verification also, our goal is to make this more of an outcome-oriented tool than the input-oriented effort that people have today.”

Shukla said that Nusym is focusing on “simulation or the tools that work off simulation,” and is just now going into beta sites with its technology. The real value, he said, is not so much simulation speed as completion and coverage. “What’s important is how much more quickly you can complete simulation,” he said.

Certainly the folks who started O-in and Silicon Sorcery would agree, as well as the folks at Verisity and Systems Science. It’s actually hard to argue with. Richard Goering continues

What else do we know? Google Nusym, and you’ll find documents that name Woodside Fund, Draper Richards, and Silicom Ventures as venture capital investors. Shukla said that Lucio Lanza and John Sanguinetti are investors in Nusym, and he said that about $6 million has been raised so far. Nusym currently employs around 20 people, he said.

Goering has some interesting speculation on what Nusym may really be doing, and he then offers another quote from Mr. Shukla.

“What attracted me is that this is the first genuinely good idea we’ve heard in verification for a long, long time,” said Shukla. “There’s been no innovation in that space for the last 10 to 12 years, and the problem is getting worse.”

I think that there has been a fair amount of innovation in the verification space in the last decade. It’s an odd position for Venk to stake out, that there hasn’t. It also neatly sidesteps the specifics of the insertion point in the flow or the actual nature of the benefits they hope to deliver. Cutting time to achieve high verification coverage is a generic promise at this point. For example, Cadence, a potential exit for Nusym, makes the following promise for their Incisive platform:

The Cadence Incisive® platform delivers the fastest and most efficient way to verify large, complex chips. It ensures that your product will meet specifications, ship without defects and arrive on time by removing productivity, predictability and quality risks in the development process.

Ann Germany and Shankar Hemmady, writing at EDACafe on “Verification Languages: 3 points to ponder beyond which one?” list this as their second point:

2. Is there a way out of this mess?

Deploying thousands of simulations, directing resources across geographically dispersed teams and achieving total coverage across the block, chip, system and project levels are today’s verification reality. Exasperating isn’t it? With modern SoC’s consisting of one or more processors, embedded software, instruction and data caches, large register sets, multiple buses, dedicated hardware accelerator, and a dozen or more interfaces to industry standards, simply keeping track of where we stand and what comes next becomes a problem on its own. How can we capture the verification process and what can be done to automate this process? What if the specification changes in the middle of the project? What if a critical bug is identified a week before tapeout? How can we manage the verification process to gain control over this flood of information?

Nusym should consider situating their brand promise in the realities of design and verification as outlined above. This is also an approach other software startups should consider as well: don’t try and position yourself as bringing fire to the savages, acknowledge the challenges and real pain your prospects are experiencing and offer a specific measurable benefit that differentiates you from other potential solutions.

Ten Quotes from “Guidelines to Creativity” by K. Bradford Brown

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

I got Guidelines to Creativity by K. Bradford Brown as a gift and was impressed by these ten quotes. Some are clever re-statements of more famous observations but all have a certain poetry.

  1. Creativity will take me as far as my imagined limits.
  2. The building blocks of our creativity are quarried from the space between what is, and what might be.
  3. Some discoveries change the world. All discoveries change their discoverer.
  4. An attempt may be a failure. A person never is.
  5. To create, we must learn to stand on other people’s shoulders humbly.
  6. Whenever a group shares a common vision, a spark of creativity is ignited.
  7. When surfacing from the depths of creative effort, take the time to decompress.
  8. Age does not limit creativity. But having experience helps. As does not having it. Anyway, it’s not our choice.
  9. They said, “try, try again.” I said, “let’s stop and try something different.”
  10. It starts in the imagination. It ends in sweat.

12 Books For the Busy CEO Tonight (Mon Dec-11-2006) @ SDForum

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

12 Books For the Busy CEO: spend an hour and leave with a summary of key marketing insights and some rules of thumb for successful innovation in Silicon Valley. You might even identify one or two books that you haven’t read that will be worth your time over the Christmas holidays. I will cover twelve books that form the basis for conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley for marketing discontinuous or disruptive products.

Just For Today by Ben Stein

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Just For Today

I Will Feel Grateful For My Customers. I Worked Hard To Get Them.
Without Them I Would Not Have A Business.

I Will Be as Friendly as Can Be to Everyone That I Work With; I Will
Treat Them as If They Are Responsible For Keeping Me in Business.

If I Have To Correct Someone, I Will Do It With the Same Good Humor
and Self-restraint as If I Were The One Being Corrected.

I Will Not Assume That Everything I Do Has To Be Perfect. I Am Going
To Do Well Enough To Get Through The Day Competently.

I Am Not Going To Try And Break Any Speed Records In What I Do. I Will
Get Done What’s In Front Of Me Without Trying To Put Myself Into A
Position Of Painful Compulsion.

When I Leave Work, I Will Not Think About How Much I Got Done Or Did
Not Get Done. Instead, I Will Look Forward To The Evening, And Be
Thankful That I Did Whatever I Did.

Benjamin J. Stein
Managers Journal Column
Wall Street Journal 11-26-90

Going Pro

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

Some key points to remember as you ask folks in larger firms to take a risk with our new offering or service. They are from an early 1990’s article entitled “Going Pro” by Asa Barber.

Life in most business organizations is like life in a submarine.
For those of you who find yourselves in an office environment, understand that it is, by definition, a closed environment. Take note of how you conduct yourself. Do you talk too loudly? Are you argumentative to a fault? Do you wear well as an office companion? Do you think of the needs of others? […]

Life in most business organizations is like life in a Medici court.
The spirit of Niccolo Machiavelli lives in every business culture. There are political alliances and power shifts. There are assassinations and misdemeanors. There are those who are in, and those who are out. It is life on the refined edge of risk and reward. So play your cards like a careful courtier. Especially when you are beginning your career. Whom can you trust? Who wants help you and who wants to impede your progress? Better bide your time and keep your own counsel. And finally, don’t try to be too special or too unique in order to get noticed. Remember the advice of good old Niccolo:

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

Employees in a large firm have to live with the consequences of failure in ways that can be more harsh than the effect the same failure has on your startup. It’s important to bear in mind that you can put a dent in someone’s career and while you may have opted for the entrepreneurial adventure, they don’t want to wander too far off their career path.

Also, startups are like mini-subs, very intense pressure cookers that require a high tolerance for stress induced behavior–and hopefully the ability to minimize the impact of stress on your own actions.

Thinking like a professional means sticking to basics.
The basics are founded on common sense, and they include: being on time, never missing a deadline, talking when spoken to, shutting up when not spoken to, being honest about expenses and other funds, giving your time and energy to the job without reservation while you are on the job, showing consideration for your colleagues, seeking solutions not perpetual conflict–and last but not least, being willing to go out on a limb and push for an idea you truly believe in…

I sometimes meet folks who think that being in a startup exempts them from most of the rules of business etiquette. It’s a mixture of “leading the revolution” that will sweep away all of the current practice and being clearer on their own short term needs without consideration for potential consequences. And let’s face it, many people join startups because they can’t fit in at larger firms for reasons that encompass a multitude of strengths and shortcomings.

I still prefer the challenges of aligning founders’ psychology with business reality to the need to navigate the complex political landscape–come join the kabuki–of most large firms. I say this as a former flying monkey for several evil emperors (it’s not just wicked witches who need flying monkeys) who never wanted to move up to samurai because the ronin retirement policy was a little too much to take in the event of the untimely demise of your shogun.

See the terrain from the point of view of your boss.
This is both an opportunistic and a humane approach to the workplace. Your boss, no matter his or her deficiencies, is not your enemy. Your boss has to get a job done. So before you decide that your boss has no grasp of the territory, you should at least know how territory looks from the executive suite. You might be surprised. If you put yourself in the shoes of your superiors, will learn a lot about their expectations of you. And, if you know what they expect of you, you can get the job done.

It’s also good advice to understand the situation from your prospect’s boss’ perspective. And if your prospect can’t explain the boss’ perspective, they may not prove to be that effective an internal champion or change agent.

Lao-tzu gives outstanding advice:

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

“To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.”

“The way of the sage is to act but not to compete.”

“When armies are mobilized and issues are joined,
the man who is sorry over the fact will win.”

Time is worth much more than money, so don’t waste it
your own or anybody else’s…the true professional guards his time. More important, he doesn’t steal time from others. His written memos are brief and to the point, his phone conversations are neither chatty or windy, his statements in meetings are compact and organized. Few things can get you fired faster than a selfish use of someone else’s time.

And few things make it very hard to get a meeting with someone, even if you are now in a different company, than asking for a 30 minute meeting to offer a briefing on your offering and arguing with a prospect for more than an hour. Ask for 30 minutes and be prepared to be packed up heading for the door at the 25 minute mark if your prospect is not interested or doesn’t see the value in your offer.

The professional mind-set is built on common sense, rationality, cold logic, and a shrewd understanding of the business process.
On the battlefield and in the marketplace, our emotions are perpetually attacked, manipulated, courted, and torn. But the real professional is the person who can overcome all of the glitter and distraction, all of the melodrama and posturing. The true pro stays within himself, analyzes the chessboard, thinks ahead, stays cool and keeps this constant mind: Just get the job done.

This is a tough one, but making and meeting commitments that create value for your customers is what gets remembered (of the positive things that get remembered).

Coffee Break with Gary Smith

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in EDA, skmurphy

It’s a strange thing to know someone who’s making the front page of the paper for losing his job.

I have known Gary Smith for almost 20 years: we met when he was a methodologist at LSI Logic and their salesman for 3Com dragged him in to encourage us to continue using the proprietary LSI tools and not move to Synopsys Design Compiler and Verilog for ASIC design. Like all good ENTJ‘s he was hearty, robust, and argumentative. I guess it takes one to know one. What Gary and I considered to be a friendly but spirited conversation the salesman was convinced had escalated to a shouting match. We have been friends ever since.

Much has been made of Dataquest’s decision to shut down their 5 person Design and Engineering Group, which covered EDA, electronic system level (ESL) design, embedded software, mechanical design, and architectural engineering and construction. I think Gabe Moretti‘s Life Without Dataquest (Oct 23, 2006) in CMP’s EDA DesignLine probably had the best insights (links added):

It is always sad to see people that have dedicated their skills to make a difference in our industry get laid off. It has happened too frequently in the last two years in the media, and the trend has now extended itself to the world of analysts. Some individual analysts, Erach Desai for example, have started their own consulting organizations instead of being associated with an investment banking firm. Now the news that Gartner Dataquest has decided to close its CAD group at the end of this month and terminate coverage of EDA highlights once more the real nature of the industry.

When three of the handful of publicly traded EDA companies control about 73% of the industry revenues as Merrill Lynch Research’s Jay Vleeschhouwer stated in his last report, one only needs to look at Cadence, Synopsys and Mentor, to determine the state and direction of the industry. By adding Magma to the input data one has enough to develop a sufficiently accurate picture of the industry to advise EDA corporate planners and independent investors on both growth opportunities and possible pitfalls. Gartner has thus made a difficult but financially sound decision in terminating its EDA coverage. In spite of the excellent professional qualifications of each of the members of the CAD group, and the technical leadership they provided under the able guidance of Gary Smith, the business side of this enterprise has become less justifiable. The four largest companies have grown an internal knowledge of the competition and thus have lessened their reliance on the input from Dataquest, while few of the smaller companies have developed the marketing bandwidth to take advantage of the private analysis offered by Dataquest.

Just as the amount spent on advertising and the changing nature of the ads have shaped the reorganization of the industry coverage by media giants like CMP and Reed Elsevier, so the amount of money spent on independent market analysis is reshaping this segment of the industry. I have no doubt that companies will continue to rely on independent input for their planning, but this help will come from individuals or small organizations that can operate with a significantly smaller overhead than Gartner. If you really think about it, supporting capabilities, like media, PR, and market analysis, are now resembling the nature of the industry they serve: innovation and creativity come mostly from small companies and individuals who find a way to believe in their own ideas and convictions and who are successful for what they know and contribute, not who they work for.

I like the Moore’s Law waits for no one sentiment he closes on. He was the first to really explain it as a rational business decision instead of some kind of conspiracy. John Cooley offered a wealth of them in the “Untold Gary Smith Back Story” but Steve DiBartolomeo of Artwork Conversion Software made what I think was the most prescient comment:

What’s replacing Gartner? DeepChip, and blogs. An EDA company makes an outrageous claim? Within hours actual users will refute such claims on blogs, emails to DeepChip and the bragger is called to account. A major customer changes suppliers, the news is out in days. A new tool is crap, in spite of the NDAs enough “Call Me Anonymous” engineers report their experience. The services that you provide freely via DeepChip compete directly with Gartner. Information zips around much more freely than before; yet someone has to aggregate it, qualify it, filter it and make sense of it, but it is pretty clear that the Gartner business model has reached the end of its life.”

EDAC lists 11 public companies

  1. ANSTAnsoft5 analysts
  2. ARMHYARM Holdings4 analysts
  3. CDNSCadence11 analysts
  4. LAVAMagma Design Automation7 analysts
  5. LVGNLogic VisionNo analyst coverage
  6. MENTMentor Graphics7 analysts
  7. MIPSMIPS Technologies4 analysts
  8. PDFSPDF Solutions6 analysts
  9. SNPSSynopsys11 analysts
  10. SYNPSynplicity Inc.3 analysts
  11. VIRLVirage Logic5 analysts

There is a fair amount of overlap in coverage but it looks like there are perhaps 16-18 analysts covering at least one company in the industry and a core of about a dozen covering at least three. As a contrast, Xilinx has 27 analysts covering it and Altera has 30. These two FPGA players probably invest as much in CAD tools as many if not most of the companies listed above.

Peggy Aycinena interviewed Gary in 2001, posting it in 2004 here where she and characterized him as the EDA Industry’s answer to the Oracle at Delphi. While he has survived a bout with cancer and has a young son still in diapers I have never witnessed him display any supernatural powers. He is strong methodologist who is able to spot the part of the future that’s already here by observing and listening to designers.

As to what Gartner’s decision means for the industry, I am guided by Gerald Weinberg’s observation that “It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the end of an illusion.”

Custom Centric Marketing Means Shifting to “Resolution Messages”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Mary Sullivan addressed “Customer Centric Marketing” last Monday, providing a number of examples of marketing messages based on the customer’s operating reality. Mary highlighted the need for marketing campaigns to recognize that the customer is in charge of the buying process today. The example messages cut through the noise (Mary provided an estimate that every day we receive some three thousand odd commercial messages) and were able to catch a prospect’s attention by speaking directly to their needs and clearly indicating how the offering would resolve them. This inverts the traditional

“Product Specs -> Features -> Benefits”

And replaces benefits with “resolution messages” to yield:

“Needs -> Resolutions -> Product Specs”

Mary has two articles available on the KickStart Alliance website that nicely summarize her presentation:

Mark Duncan on “New Tools for Increasing Marketing Productivity”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy, Tools for Startups

Mark Duncan gave an excellent guided tour at the October 9 SDForum Marketing SIG of several web based applications that marketing teams should consider taking advantage of in addition to (or even instead of) Microsoft Office. He opened with the observation that

The applications bundled into Microsoft Office—word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, calendar, and mail–are the only software tools that many marketing professionals have learned.

Appropriately enough talk was titled “Beyond Microsoft Office: New Tools for Increasing Marketing Productivity.” His slides were done in the “beyond bullet points style” that very effectively complemented his spoken presentation but would be hard to follow without his spoken linkage and counterpoint. So he also created an article to act as the stand-alone representation of his talk (see http://www.askmar.com/Marketing/Beyond%20Office.pdf )

It’s definitely worth a read. Three good ideas I picked up from the talk:

  1. Many marketing activities and deliverables involve collaborating on a document to reach a working consensus by a deadline. While Microsoft Office applications can make you productive as an individual, they don’t help you to leverage the Internet in gathering information or facilitate review and discussion at a team level. Once there are three people involved it’s no longer clear who has the most recent version of the slides or the pitch or the datasheet. Wiki and on-line workspace tools can offer a team dramatically lower friction and the ability to operate much more rapidly against a deadline.
  2. Read Merlin Mann‘s “43 Folders” blog and the group blog at “LifeHack.Org” regularly for practical personal productivity tips and tricks (christened “life hacks” by Denny O’Brien in a famous O’Reilly Etech talk). These are a gold mine of information for knowledge worker productivity.
  3. Two good sites for low cost digital stock photography: istockphoto.com and Lucky Oliver. Mark’s slides made good use of stock photography to complement his talk.

Mark is a marketing consultant who focuses on emerging technologies, assisting companies in entering new markets and developing new business opportunities.

Quick Links

Bootstrappers Breakfast Link Startup Stages Clients In the News Upcoming Events Office Hours Button Newsletter SignUp