— Hal Barbour, CEO
I joined CAST in 1999 through a merger with my EDA data management start-up Lineage Systems. We all knew each other well from working together at HHB Systems, and shared a common vision of delivering great value to customers,seeking enduring relationships rather than quick deals, loving leading-edge technology, and generally enjoying what we’re doing.
Shaded by our experiences in a global corporation and aware of how many tech firms fail following the classical business school approach to growth, we were determined to avoid outside investment and to grow CAST in a bootstrap fashion. The resulting frugality lead to three factors that remain key to CAST’s success today: building a flexible, low-overhead infrastructure; adopting an up-front, fixed-cost model for IP licensing; and embracing a networked partnership approach to development and sales.
As designers began to understand then demand the advantages of IP-based design, we quickly realized we couldn’t adequately provide everything they needed by developing it all ourselves.
We found that smart, educated people all over the planet were forming groups around IP development with unique ideas and great knowledge of specific application areas, but without access to potential customers. By connecting with the best of these groups, we developed a unique global business model that leveraged a diverse set of creative energies under the unifying and trustworthy CAST business umbrella.
Our commitment to keeping operating expenses low in order to make our products more affordable for customers led us to focus resources more on development, sales, and support and less on fancy offices and other overhead, and to outsource non-mission-critical services (e.g., read Cultivating a Company in Cyberspace). We quickly found big advantages to this approach: employees were more productive and better aligned with our primary objectives, and workspace flexibility meant we could better support customers in time zones all around the world.
Our hands-on experiences with early IP adopters also made clear how many were leery of IP becoming a big lifetime expense. This led us to offer fixed-price, up-front IP licensing rather than charging royalties, devising, refining, and still using today a simple, project-based IP licensing model. We also joined and participated in industry initiatives for better IP licensing and quality, from partner programs at Altera, Xilinx, and others to industry initiatives like the Virtual Socket Alliance (VSIA) and its Quality IP (QIP) effort.
We continue with this model today, excited to work with some of the best IP experts in the world, and proud to deliver to a large and growing customer base the high-quality, easy-to-use, cost-effective IP that helps them produce class-beating electronic products.