Archive for May, 2011

Give me some of That UK Venture Capital – They must be throwing it away

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut – Warren Buffet

The giggles keep coming – Atego has purchased another company (albeit a competent one – notwithstanding a questionable fit). This time it was Hi Rely, a service company that actually knows what its doing – although at a premium price.

I guess that in Jay Gambrel’s “Alice in Wonderland” dreams he believes that he’s going to match IBM’s 35,000 person service capabilities. Jay once told me that he’s a banker and that he doesn’t have to understand how the embedded world works.

I’ve known Vance Hildebrand for a long time – and I have previously recommended him and his organization. At least Hi Rely offers a useful service and has good people – good offerings and good people, however, do not necessarily create a positive and revenue producing combination. Time will tell.

Knowing Vance as a friend and colleague, I asked him why he sold to Atego – going in my mind from Upper East Side to downtown Newark. I asked if  a) he’s in trouble with his bookie, or, b) grandma needed implants to get her job back at Hooters. For the record, Vance loved my email to him and told me that he passed wine through his nose while laughing so hard. He offered to explain his willingness to be bought out by Atego after the May ESC conference. Vance has not responded to my emails since the wine-nose incident and we are on the lookout for a much too happy guy. Vance was paid in dollars (or Euros) and not in Atego stock – I told you that he is competent.

So Jay, please tell us who these more than generous VC folks are so that companies with good prospects and poor financial positions can gain access.

Jay, as a gesture of good will from this side of the puddle – and hoping that I can throw a bone to your financial backers, I’d like to introduce you to Gregg Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri.

So let me posit the following question: What differentiates the Atego acquisition strategy from Mr. Miller’s business? The answer is that neither seem to make sense – BUT Mr. Miller has made $20 million with his product he calls “Neuticles”.

Mr. Miller felt strongly that post-neutered dogs were too ashamed to show their face (or southern exposure) to other dogs, so he created fake testicles (Neuticles) that he sells for $100 a pair (not including surgery). To date he has sold over 250,000 Neuticles. Truth be told, I have a distant cousin who had Pekinese-sized Neuticles implanted in her Great Dane (we suspect nothing sinister) . The dog probably had emotional problem to begin with.

I guess that Neuticles is an easier sell than realtime Java

So Jay, don’t give up – if Mr. Miller can find gold with his “not of this planet” inspiration, so can you. Rumor has it that there is an embedded Unix company for sale.

Interpreting Embedded Survey Outcomes – Different Surveys Report Different Results

Surveys of embedded developers to establish market parameters regarding RTOS use must be careful to avoid unintentional bias. 

I have recently been contacted by senior executives from RTOS companies mentioning UBM’s survey of embedded developers that placed FreeRTOS as the most used RTOS for embedded use in 2011 (14% of respondents). FreeRTOS placed 3rd in the 2010 UBM survey. Year-over-year EMF data is at substantial odds with these findings.

EMF takes no position on how UBM conducts their survey or on their results. EMF data for the past two years have shown that FreeRTOS usage has garnered less than 1% of total developer responses. This encompasses over 1200 responding developers. This is a significantly lower response than the 14% reported by UBM. EMF has no idea of how this discrepancy came about. We stand by our data as our surveys and responses are restricted and carefully monitored. We make no judgment regarding UBM’s methods or results. We are responding to requests to report our findings.

In EMF’s 2011 Annual Survey of Embedded Developers, eleven thousand embedded developers were statistically selected and sent invitations to participate in the 2011 survey. Six hundred and fifty three developers responded to our invitation. PIN numbers were assigned to each request so that we could insure that only those invited participated in the survey – and that they could respond only once.

In 2011 developers reported using an in-house RTOS (20.1%), Android (19.3%), XPE (16.5%) and CE (15.9%). FreeRTOS was used by 0.9% of respondents. From our perspective, the suggestion that FreeRTOS use would exceed that of in-house, Android, XPE, CE, or VxWorks use is beyond any reasonable reality check.

How to Tell the Difference between Market Intelligence and Market Stupidity

Ignoring important business information in order to save money is like saving up sex for your old age. Warren Buffet

An archeologist was searching along the Amazon River when he stumbled onto a tribe of warriors. They were both shocked and surprised to see each other. The archeologist cried out “Lord, please save me for I am totally screwed”. A black cloud appeared and a loud voice cried out “you are not screwed – pick up the rock in front of you and kill the chief”. He picked up the rock and threw it hitting the chief in the head killing him instantly. The archeologist looked up to see 40 tribesmen coming at him with their spears aimed at him. He looked to the cloud and a loud voice said …

“OK – NOW you’re screwed”

Sometimes market advice seems to work that way.

A decade ago the merchant computer board industry was abuzz with CompactPCI (cPCI) forecast to replace the VME Bus. Market analysts were calling cPCI the two-billion dollar marketplace. Given that cPCI was controlled by three vendors (by definition a commodity marketplace), we called it the “zero-billion dollar marketplace”. Advocates told me that I was looking at the tip of the iceberg. I said that we were looking at the tip of the ice-cube!

The outcome was a no-brainer. commodity markets don’t grow as strong and as large as polyopoly markets (those that support a broad range of vendors). In addition, virtually every cPCI design was custom – not off the shelf. So who won? Not us – we were correct in our analysis, but no one bought our research. Other market research firms made a lot of money selling what vendors wanted to hear – but those vendors (Force Computer and Motorola Computer Group, among others) are long gone.

We never regretted our strategy – although we didn’t make any money in having the correct analysis. Ten years later, we are still here and doing fine.


The EMF Approach to Comprehensive and Reliable Market Intelligence

EMF’s Market Intelligence Program involves three steps

  • A comprehensive and statistically accurate survey statistically derived to insure randomness
  • An initial series of cross-tabs to provide an overview of the survey results
  • And an interactive Dashboard that enables you to explore the data set to  determine relationships in the data that can be essential to one’s efforts

No survey is adequate unless the data can be interrogated from a multitude of perspectives to establish relationships and correlations. EMF does this using a unique tool we call the Executive Dashboard.


A well constructed survey and the use of the Dashboard can provide the following:


Determine comparisons between your competitor’s products and yours

• Determine developer metrics: number of developers per project; number of lines of written code as well as total lines of code; cancellations; designs completed ahead of or behind schedule – and how many months behind schedule; and, comparisons between pre-design expectations and final design results – and be able to do this for any vertical market, any chip architecture used, etc.

• One can look at developers’ most pressing concerns, what design processes are used and what developers believe are best practice

• Look at product line deficiencies and needs

• Look at what developers are planning to use and do

• Degree of satisfaction of customers with products and tools

• Find market messages that resonate with potential customers, and keep products aligned with these benefits

We have put together a series of videos to illustrate how our surveys are constructed and how the dashboard is used. We encourage you the reader and embedded professional to think about how you evaluate information that is critical to your success.

You don’t want that black cloud telling you that “now you’re screwed”. The only thing worse would be if you had paid for that information.