So where is Oasys today?
I’m pleased to tell you that we recently closed Series B Funding with investments from Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, and from Xilinx, a leading provider of programmable platforms . We plan to use the funding as working capital to expand our research and development team, and our worldwide support structure.
Wow. Two industry giants Intel and Xilinx have invested in Oasys! That portends good things, doesn’t it?
We haven’t been too visible recently as we focused inwardly, but we were certainly not inactive and we now have several customer design teams using RealTime Designer on real designs. Our customers are ‘the numbers two through four’ semiconductor companies, namely Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Broadcom (through the Netlogic acquisition). Xilinx, the number 1 FPGA vendor, is a customer. Now with Intel, we have relationships with the top four U.S. semiconductor vendors and the top FPGA vendor, all of whom are doing some of the most advanced designs today.
Let me provide a bit more detail. Not all of our customers let us use their names, of course, but I can assure your readers that we have a pretty impressive customer list of industry leaders designing some of the most aggressive IP and SoCs –– large and with high-performance and low-power constraints that make them challenging. And, we have an impressive funnel of other potential customers evaluating the technology.
While I’m on the subject of sales, two key members of the Oasys team are Craig Robbins and Bunninder Falak, both well-liked and experienced EDA sales giants. Craig is senior vice president of sales, while Bunninder is our vice president of business development. Together, they have built an impressive and dedicated customer support and service organization that we’re quite proud of.
Can you share Oasys’ elevator pitch?
Sure. “Oasys software tools eliminate unending design closure iterations between synthesis and layout. Our Chip Synthesis is a fundamental shift in how synthesis is applied to IC design and implementation. From our perspective, traditional block-level synthesis tools do a poor job of handling chip-level issues. We built RealTime Designer for physical RTL synthesis of 100-million gate designs to produce better results in a fraction of the time needed by traditional logic synthesis products. We eliminate iteration through a unique RTL placement.”
Impressive! What are some other things you have learned?
The team is the most important thing. I’ve run teams in bigger companies and there is inevitably a certain amount of bureaucracy. To be successful in a big company, you have to execute well on your little piece of the puzzle without necessarily looking at the big picture. In a startup, especially in the early days, you need to have everyone pulling in the same direction. Everyone really does need to know what everyone else is doing, at least in outline. And, that’s what we strive to do at Oasys.
Of course, we started the company at a terrible time from the point of view of raising money, so we didn’t raise a large amount of funding early on. But that has turned out to be a blessing. We’ve had to take our time with a group of patient smaller investors.
Six years was not what we envisioned, but the reality is, that I don’t think we could have done anything differently.
Obviously, with more funding, we might have been able to speed up the product development. However, the lack of funding forced the team to focus on building a solution that customers would buy, rather than aiming for an all-encompassing product. This led to several successful engagements, and helped us in closing some significant business before the product was even complete. It allowed us to bootstrap the company in a different way, and gave us an alternative route to traditional venture capital funding. The fact we did not rely on VC funding definitely turned out to be in our favor in the end.
What do you take the most pride in or satisfaction from?
We created a new technology with a small team and little funding. At first, we were completely self-funded. We rented a small apartment where we spent about a year just coding everything from scratch. Later, we received some seed funding from several EDA-savvy angel investors, which allowed us to move into a “real” office.
We had a working prototype by 18 months to show other angel investors, and that step allowed us to secure a bit more funding. I was then able to attract interest from some of the best people in the industry. It took some convincing, but I was able to attract Joe Costello’s attention. He is now a member of our board of directors and a key contributor to our team.
Joe’s keynote speech at the Design Automation Conference several years ago resonated with me and others at Oasys. He talked about the three rules to building a successful company in EDA. The rules describe about how to “think like a fish,” and that you should “write your press release first,” and to “fundamentally change the rules.” That was around the same time that I started my discussion with Joe. I talked him through the technology and how we did things. He definitely saw the potential of this kind of technology where it could fundamentally change the game rather than just trying to play the game, which is basically what we had done at Ambit.
And, in case you missed it, Joe was a member of our band, the Chip Synthesis Revolution Rockers, that performed for a video and CD that became a hot DAC giveaway in 2009. The video featuring Bass ‘n Vocal Rocker Joe Costello can be found on the Oasys website ( www.oasys-ds.com).
I should also mention that
Gary Meyers is a member of our board. He was president and CEO of Synplicity, a synthesis company acquired by Synopsys. After the acquisition, he became vice president and general manager. Another board member is
Larry Yoshida, chairman and CEO of Premier Technologies.
One other thing to mention is the sheer speed of RealTime Designer. We started with the goal to design a product that used this new RTL-savvy approach to produce the best possible results. We were as surprised as everyone else when it turns out that, not only does it produce better results, but also it typically runs between 10 and 60 times faster than traditional synthesis. We’ve had AE’s finish an evaluation in an afternoon. Huge designs just load and are done in minutes or a few hours.