Let’s face it, most high tech mergers and acquisitions fail. There are the spectacular failures like AOL/Time Warner, where AOL lost 90% of its 200 billion dollar market cap in just a few years. That one really stung media giant Ted Turner: “I’d like to forget it... I lost 80 percent of my worth and subsequently lost my job. We looked it up to see if I was the biggest loser of all time because I lost about $8 billion.” Ouch, that’ll leave a mark.
Then, of course, there are the countless small failures where a company was quietly acquired with high expectations only to see few or none of those expectations realized. If you’ve been in high tech any length of time, you’ve almost certainly experienced one or two of those.
Why does this happen so frequently in high tech? The first answer you hear is it’s all because of the high rate of change in our industry. Who could have foreseen that the very people who initially loved the value that AOL provided, a nice little mini-internet world, would later shun it for the wide open internet with a trusted portal like Yahoo. Oh, better make that Google. Actually, I mean Facebook. Yep, things keep changing.
Well sure, high tech is great at generating opportunities, opportunities mean change, and change means you better change now or die. I get that. But it doesn’t really explain the merger problem. The same smart people who came up with AOL’s vision of an optimum web surfing experience could have foreseen how that would need to morph into something bigger and better.
So, the second answer you hear is that the smaller, more nimble company got bogged down in the bureaucracy of the acquiring firm. Sure, that’s got to happen, right? So the easy answer is keep them separate! Run the acquired company as a subsidiary, or at least make it look that way. By the way, does anyone know that Google owns You Tube? That went down 4 years ago but you can’t tell it from the You Tube web site. Check out their careers page: ”And even though we’re a part of Google and enjoy all of the corporate perks, it still feels like you’re working at a startup”.
Well, that probably does help the You Tube group, but doesn’t it also limit the positive impact that You Tube could have on the rest of Google? How can the energy and special genius of the You Tube staff rub off on the other Google folks and vice versa?
The real answer, the hard answer, for creating a successful merger or acquisition is realizing that they are not about products or infrastructure or distribution channels or all the other tangible assets of a company. Successful mergers and acquisitions result when the talent, enthusiasm, and creative capacities of one company are married with another to result in a new team that retains the best qualities of both companies. Now that is hard! It can’t be captured in an org chart or roadmap or business plan. It requires a commitment to a new vision that is embraced at all levels of the organization. And this is exactly what Cadence is achieving with the Denali merger.
In my part of Cadence, Verification IP (VIP), our previous vision was to be the premier broad-line VIP supplier with the most advanced methodology. Tapping all the potential would require using the Cadence Incisive simulator, but that was just fine too (from our perspective), and we largely realized this vision (see figure 1). Denali’s previous Verification IP vision was to be the Switzerland of the few most popular protocols. All simulators were supported equally as well as all methodologies. Once again, this vision was largely realized.
Figure 1. Cadence VIP Components and Testbench Integration
So, following the acquisition, the big question was what vision would best carry us into the future? Since change is the rule in high tech, our gut feeling was that neither approach would be sufficient for the future, so we committed to combine the best qualities of each into a new vision.
Going forward, the new Cadence VIP portfolio will support all major simulators. Many customers have a mix of simulators and they want to get the most out or their investment, so we are going to enable that. Also, while we will continue to drive the evolution of leading edge methodologies like UVM, we will also enable legacy methodologies to ease the transition burden on customers. Denali developed a great, easy-to-use interface for their VIP, one that supports the SystemVerilog verification language along with its various methodologies. We’re putting that interface on all our VIP products. Another Denali innovation is a real handy trace debug feature that enables remote debugging of issues without requiring a copy of the customer’s design. You guessed it, that’s also being added to all Cadence VIP products. This will help us to simplify customer support and shorten the time to resolve issues.:
Figure 2. Cadence VIP Portfolio
We are applying these capabilities to our ever expanding portfolio of VIP. In fact, we support 30+ protocols today (see figure 2). The added talent brought in from Denali will enable us to continue to be first to market as the protocol specifications evolve. We will also continue the Cadence initiative of extending the benefits of VIP into other verification technologies like acceleration, formal analysis, and system-level simulation.
Once this new vision was established, the tangible aspects of the merger (org charts, infrastructure, etc.) all fell into place. As you interact with Cadence this year, we hope you’ll agree that this was the right way to combine the companies!
And, oh yes, there is one more Denali initiative that Cadence will maintain – we will continue the tradition of the hugely popular Denali Party at this summer’s Design Automation Conference in San Diego. Enjoy!