In the wake of Broadcom failing to complete its takeover of Qualcomm, Intel is buying another chip company as it works on adjusting its own its business to fit the next generation of computing. Today, the company is announcing that it is acquiring eASIC , a fabless semiconductor company that makes customisable eASIC chips for use in wireless and cloud environments. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, as the price paid will not be material to Intel. eASIC has 120 employees, was founded in 1999 and has counted Khosla, Kleiner Perkins and Seagate among its investors, raising $149 million in total. It had been recapitalised in 2012 and so, in its last round, in November 2017, it was valued at around $110 million post-money, according to PitchBook , to give you a basic idea of a possible pricing ballpark. eASIC’s technology and team will become a part of Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group (PSG), which Intel created after it acquired Altera in 2015 for $16.7 billion. Altera is a producer of FPGA chips, and the idea will be to complement those with eASIC’s technology, said Dan McNamara, corporate vice president and GM of the PSG division: “W e’re seeing the largest adoption of FPGA ever because of explosion of data and cloud services, and we think this will give us a lot of differentiation versus the likes of Xilinx,” which is one of Intel’s biggest competitors in FPGA. “We’ll be able to offer an end-to-end lifecycle that fits today’s changing workloads and infrastructure. No one on the marketplace will have this.” FPGA designs allow companies to quickly modify chip architectures, but they also require a lot of power. eASIC chips are more efficient, and they can be configured quickly from the outset (but cannot be modified). The idea will be to offer eASIC as a transition to customers of Intel’s (and its competitors) who are already using FPGA and looking for a migration to the next thing. Applications that might need eASIC power could range from baseband and radio heads in 4G and 5G networks as well as applications based in the cloud that require heavy data computations, for example AI and video services, or financial risk analysis. Intel and eASIC have actually been working together since 2015 , when the latter company started to provide its flavor of ASIC designs to Intel for its Xeon chips. McNamara confirmed that Intel never invested in eASIC but it had considered the idea “multiple” times, including recently, instead of acquiring. However, ultimately, owning the company outright made more sense for both sides, he said.
Startup founders don’t usually pitch their ideas by admitting that they’re fixing something “boring,” but it seems to work for RevenueCat ‘s Jacob Eiting. In fact, Eiting alternately described his startup (which is part of the current class at accelerator Y Combinator) as handling “boring work” and solving a “boring problem.” RevenueCat helps developers manage their in-app subscriptions, which Eiting said “is just boring — developers don’t want to do it.” And yet it can be crucial for their business. After all, Eiting and his co-founder Miguel Carranza both worked at brain training app Elevate (where Eiting was CTO and Carranza was director of engineering), and he said shifting Elevate’s business model from one-off purchases to recurring subscriptions “saved the company.” Eiting left Elevate more than a year ago, ultimately deciding to build a startup around “this weird skill I have.” RevenueCat offers an API that developers can use to support in-app subscriptions on iOS and Android, which means they don’t have to worry about all the nuances, bugs and updates in the way each platform handles subscriptions. Eiting said this is the kind of thing that “holds a lot of companies back — maybe not forever, but it’s usually at a time when a company shouldn’t be worrying about this.” The API also allows developers to bring all the data about their subscription business together in one place, across platforms. Ultimately, he wants to turn RevenueCat into a broader “revenue management platform,” allowing developers to try out strategies like offering different prices to different customer segments. More broadly, Eiting suggested that subscriptions offer a way out of the current “race to the bottom in how software is sold” — particularly in mobile app stores, where many of us expect everything to be free or dirt cheap. Obviously, that’s not a great situation for someone hoping to make money by selling software, but Eiting pointed out that it can be bad for the consumer too, because it means the developer has less reason to support and update the app. “Someone who pays for your 99-cent app once, they think they own your time,” he said. “You want to be helpful, you don’t want to let down a paid user, but your incentives aren’t really aligned.” Subscriptions, even if they’re just for 99 cents a month, can re-align those incentives — Eiting has described this as a system of app patronage : “You want this thing to stay working, you need to pony up some money to developers.” He also acknowledged that as more apps shift to this model, there’s a risk of subscription fatigue , which could lead to “maybe not a harsh backlash, but there might be a secondary correction.” But in Eiting’s view, that’s less a problem for individual developers and more for the mobile platforms. Those platforms, he said, should be building better tools for consumers to manage all their subscriptions in one place.