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Analysis: Ambric exits stage...What next?

Posted: 24 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:silicon  programmable logic  schematic capture  Eclipse environment 

But I digress... What makes the Ambric demise even more painful is that the company and its technology actually WAS on a significant revenue, design win, and overall market acceptance upswing (I hear that they had just booked TWO big-time orders on the very DAY the announcement about funding transpired! Ouch!)

Ambric was also doing particularly well in the high-end video space; several codecs for such standards as Panasonic's AVC-I, DnX (50 and 100), and Apple ProRez were already available, and more were on the way. Ambric had also been generating revenue from board-level solutions with several major video processing software companies who used Ambric's board for acceleration of the critical motion-estimation portion of MPEG-2.

The fact that Ambric appealed to BOTH hardware and software engineers significantly broadened the potential market for the devices as opposed to conventional, pure-hardware FPGA solutions. So what happened? This is where things get scary...

The way I hear it is that when Ambric's existing VCs went back to THEIR sources of money (a "cash call" as it's known), those sources were the ones that said "no way". To the best of my knowledge, this is a FIRST in the silicon business – to have the ultimate sources of cash simply write-off previous investments and walk away – especially when the company being invested-in was actually showing good progress and ramping revenues as was Ambric.

The implications of this go far beyond Ambric, and look to have a profoundly negative effect on not just the semiconductor business, but ALL businesses that have relied on venture capital to fund, promote, and reward innovation.

This is a sad day... and also a scary one... hold on to your hats folks, because it looks like we're all in for an extremely bumpy ride...

-Clive Maxfield
Programmable Logic DesignLine


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