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Another PL startup bites the dust

Posted: 26 Jul 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:programmable logic?

Tier Logic Inc., a programmable logic startup developing a novel processing technology to build FPGA and ASIC products on a single die, has folded, EE Times has learned.

TierLogic shut down operations last week, unable to find funding for a series B round, according to Paul Hollingworth, Tier Logic's vice president of sales and marketing.

"Despite the fact that we had only spent less than $20 million, we couldn't get a lead investor to come in to a series B funding round," Hollingworth wrote in an email to EE Times.

Hollingworth described the failure to secure funding as "an interesting comment on the market right now." While record revenues and profits are being reported by the likes of programmable logic suppliers Xilinx Inc. and Altera Corp., as well as other chip large companies like Intel Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc., venture capitalists have seen very few successful exits from chip companies over the past few years and are "therefore extremely reluctant to invest in startups, even ones that had made the progress we had," Hollingworth wrote.

Tier Logic emerged from stealth mode in March, offering the first details on its three-dimensional programmable logic technology. The company's approach separated user circuits and configuration circuits into 3-D stacked layers, creating what the company called the world's first monolithic 3-D FPGA.

Hollingworth said and Tier Logic CEO Doug Laird are now trying to sell the company's patents at the request of its primary investor, Matrix Partners.

Over the past two years, several programmable logic vendors have gone under, finding funding difficult to come by for a market that is dominated by two large players. Just over a year ago, startup CSwitch Corp. confirmed that it halted operations and was seeking a buyer. No buyer has ever been publicly announced.

Two programmable logic vendors, Ambric Inc. and MathStar Inc., ceased operations in 2008 as financial resources ran dry.

Hollingworth stressed his gratitude toward Matrix Partners. "They kept us going on a bridge for eight months on their own, so they kept the faith for a long time and it's not surprising they eventually had to pull the plug," he said. "My main regret is that this technology may now never reach the market, which I think is a real shame as it was really a great idea."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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