Round-table split on future of semiconductor startups
By Peter Clarke
edadesignline.com (October 21, 2009)
LONDON A discussion panel organized here by Cadence Design Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) revealed some of the dynamic tension between the fabless chip startup community and their key suppliers the EDA companies and the foundries. Held immediately before an evening meeting intended to put hopeful startups in front of venture capitalists, the round-table aired a number of issues facing startups but drew few conclusions.
The panel comprised executives from Cadence, TSMC, three U.K. startups and Malcolm Penn, CEO of market analysis firm Future Horizons. The only voice not represented at the table was that of the venture capitalist.
Differences of opinion were evident on some issues but overall it was shown that early-stage investment is going into a more cooperative phase while mid- to late-stage startups are threatened by a continuing lack of exits for their investors. Companies such as Cadence and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. are becoming enablers and to a degree gate-keepers for the flow of startups out of Europe. TSMC is the world's leading foundry and has a high-profile presence in Europe.
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