Lanza techVentures portfolio company Palma Ceia SemiDesign recently announced that it taped out two chips supporting the Wi-Fi HaLow wireless connectivity protocol. It’s welcome news for the IoT market and a great story, especially since the move to chips is a bit of a departure from Palma Ceia’s original plan to provide only IP solutions for wired connectivity.
Before we explore Palma Ceia and its changing business model, it’s best to start at the beginning when Palma Ceia CEO Roy Jewell met Lanza techVentures Managing Partner Lucio Lanza. As much as either of them can remember, Lucio was an emissary for the legendary Joe Costello in 1990, give or take a year or two, helping build Cadence Design Systems into an EDA powerhouse. Joe as Cadence’s CEO sent Lucio to meet Roy, an executive at Technology Modeling Associates (TMA) — the leading provider of Technology CAD software, TCAD for short — to determine whether it fit within Cadence’s burgeoning product portfolio. The Cadence-TMA combination didn’t happen. TMA went public on Nasdaq in 1996 and was acquired by Avanti in 1998. Nevertheless, Lucio and Roy stayed in touch.
After Avanti, Roy went on to become president and COO of Magma Design Automation, a role he held for 11 years. After Synopsys acquired Magma in 2012, Roy turned to Lucio for advice on what to do next. Lucio, thinking broadly and long term about the growing IoT market, told him to start an analog and wireless IP company. While it’s a huge technical challenge, edge devices, Lucio reasoned, need to communicate wirelessly and demand would be strong. Roy took the counsel, accepted the challenge and started Palma Ceia in 2012.