High-level synthesis (HLS), somewhat synonymous these days with electronic system-level (ESL) design , has been a bloody business. Companies have come and, mostly, gone over the years. The one stable standout seemed to be Catapult C from Mentor.
Yeah, there were complaints that it was priced only for SoC design, with each seat costing six digits per year, but, literally, Mentor wrote the book on HLS.
So it came as a shock this morning when Calypto announced that it had acquired Catapult C. Mentor didn’t even issue a press release. Terms were undisclosed, leaving room for rumors to fill the void. Especially since Mentor isn’t handing off that part of the business: when I tried to get a bit more info from Mentor, spokesperson Ry Schwark said, “We’re not disclosing the terms of the deal, but Mentor remains completely committed to ESL. We viewed this transaction as a way to accelerate ESL adoption, good for us, good for Calypto, and good for the industry.”
So… what the heck does that mean? Clearly Calypto is happy with this phat, juicy tool they get to add to their bag of tricks, but why would Mentor unload it – and what does it mean that they’re still committed to ESL? Why would selling it to someone else be good for the technology and industry? What does that say about their faith in their own team to sell this? And how can it be better for Mentor if someone else owns the product instead of them?? On its face, it makes no sense.
Which is why one of the rumors is that Mentor took a controlling interest in Calypto as part of the deal. Which would totally change the story. Of course, Mentor won’t comment on that, other than to say, “We have had an ownership stake in Calypto for years. We still do, and are the largest shareholder.”
Which leaves so many questions unanswered. Are they a larger shareholder today than yesterday? Does “largest” mean large enough to be a majority shareholder, giving them a controlling interest? Said another way, is this the first step towards a complete takeover? If so, why do it incrementally like this?
Whispers and speculation may abound, but, at this point, I’ve heard no reliable definitive story. We’ll keep listening, however.
Here’s Calypto’s press release…