Sander ArtsMay 07, 2017

SiFive; the journey to becoming the easiest company to do business with!

Last week, SiFive announced the immediate availability of its RISC-V Core IP, the fastest and easiest way to license RISC-V cores. It sounds like another announcement from another tech company. However, it isn't if you read the press release that was sent out to the world. I think Yunsup Lee, CTO and co-founder of SiFive explains it well in there:

“...As an engineer, trying to get information from your average IP vendor is an exercise in futility,”...

...“The countless number of NDAs, partial answers and sales meetings you must agree to just to get basic evaluation material makes it feel like they don’t want your business...

...It’s unbelievable how far behind the industry is compared to the ease in which SaaS companies provide their products. When we founded SiFive, we wanted to change that. Through our ‘study-evaluate-buy’ model, we’ve made Coreplex IP licensing as easy as buying a subscription to any modern software service...”

Why do I dedicate a blog post to this on Sunday? Well, I wanted to shine my personal light on this a little. Did you notice that Yunsup's quote doesn't mention any of the speeds and feeds of SiFive's products? He could have. As a matter of fact, the SiFive product, compared to competition, performs as well as or better than other solutions in the market.

Traditional semiconductor companies and IP providers are very hard to do business with. They believe the technology will sell itself. They also believe that the quickest way to heaven is to go after the largest customers. I call that "elephant hunting.” It works. Only to a degree, though. Known, large customers need a solution, and the semiconductor vendor creates it, sells it, and supports it.

IP vendors have their own way of being difficult, and they add more complexity along the way. They throw up many questions and delays, require large complicated contracts, and charge royalty fees that never go away after they hook you in. SiFive's website features a blog post that chronicles the frustration of trying to do business with a company called hARM.

In all the jobs I ever had as head of marketing for companies in the semiconductor space, I hammered on the importance to be the “easiest company to do business with,” “engage to the max” and to “sell more products to more new and existing customers.” The long tail, after all, has more potential, is less crowded with other vendors, and has higher margins. Open doors? You'd be surprised how hard it is for these companies to look up and identify, (and fulfill) additional sales potential in the tail.

So, why am I excited by SiFive? Well, in the first meeting I had with them I told them about how, at my previous companies, we had built models where technology sells itself ... selling it in your sleep. I showed them the engagement model, the traction, the results. I showed them the Stanford GSB case that captures the theory, the practice, and the results, and I told them I wanted to do it again for SiFive since some other player(s) in the market did not see the need for it...and were ignoring the opportunity to break away by being different. I also co-authored a book titled: "Cut The Bulls*t Marketing". It features the thinking, examples, and results. It helps the reader get familiar with the thinking. It will come out any day now and I will write about it here...

So here I am. Super excited. I found a company that has the true desire (and DNA) to be the easiest company to do business with - a company that decided to create a business model centered around that. A company that has amazingly competitive products, and a team focused on building the proper engagement model; truly changing the way IP (and semis) will be sold and purchased.

There are many more activities in the pipeline that I am very excited about. One of them happened this morning. SiFive announced it secured another round of funding. I'd recommend you keep watching this space for more. This particular announcement excited me tremendously. For all people in the market that feel neglected (and are sick and tired of delays, lengthy contracts, and lifetime payments), check out the Alternative That Really Matters.