Synopsys Inc. corporate development chief Randy Tinsley jokes that he'd love to have had this summer off. But with his employer announcing an average of an acquisition a month so far this year, the executive arguably has been busier than ever.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Synopsys, the largest developer of software that helps chip companies design and test their wares, on Aug. 3 unveiled one of its largest deals, a $406 million agreement to buy Taiwan's SpringSoft Inc. This followed the completion in February of its $523 million purchase of smaller rival Magma Design Automation.
All told, Synopsys has announced eight acquisitions in 2012, helping it grow into the largest electronic design automation, or EDA, vendor and a paragon, at least so far, of how to negotiate and integrate software transactions.
"In the past I would have said I looked to Cisco, but I stopped doing that, frankly," says Tinsley, pointing to the deal-intense networking equipment maker that so many view as a template of how to succeed in tech M&A. "I would argue, maybe a little boastfully, that, if you consider our 2010 and 2012, people should look at us."
Tinsley laughs when he says this, but he's not completely joking. Over the past few years, Synopsys has emerged as the top acquirer among the triumvirate of EDA companies that rule the industry. The other two -- Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Mentor Graphics Corp. -- have been much less active. Cadence made a $1.6 billion hostile run at Mentor in 2008 in a move that would have reshaped the EDA industry, but withdrew its bid as economic conditions crumbled. It subsequently spent $315 million to buy Denali Software Inc. in May 2010 but has been relatively quiet since.
Certainly, Cadence's and Mentor's corporate development teams have been busy behind the scenes, what with the large population of tiny EDA software companies founded more or less with the intent of being acquired. But Tinsley, who reports to Synopsys senior vice president of marketing and strategic development John Chilton, and his team of corporate development professionals take the crown for announcing the most agreements.
It helps that the EDA industry is firing on all cylinders right now. Despite the uneven economy, demand for semiconductor design software is strong as chip designers continue to shrink transistor sizes and pack more onto a piece of silicon. Synopsys shares hit a 52-week high Aug. 23 following a rosy quarterly earnings report and outlook. Mentor the same week beat Wall Street expectations, and Cadence's stock recently also hit a year high.
Despite its increased stock price, Synopsys has been dipping into its $964 million cash well to fund its recent deals. Tinsley says Synopsys has honed its dealmaking acumen to the point where outside financial advisers haven't been necessary (neither the Magma nor the SpringSoft deal required outside advisers).
"I'm the investment banker here, frankly, and what a bargain I am for Synopsys," Tinsley says, laughing. "That being said, bankers clearly have roles and can be important, but EDA is EDA, and we know it better here than anyone else."
Not only has the company's M&A pace picked up, but it is managing to quickly wring value out of its bigger deals. For example, the Magma transaction surprised analysts by generating more sales than Wall Street expected during Synopsis' fiscal third quarter, in part because the company was able to quickly show customers a road map of the combined companies' products.
"Negotiations will take their normal course, but the real challenge is managing internal dynamics and alignments to set a deal up for success," Tinsley says. "We're very excited about how we've developed the back-end of deals."
With the Magma deal, Tinsley acknowledges there was a high level of anxiety among the target's employees as to Synopsys' plans. Magma, after all, was one of the few EDA companies in the past decade or so to go public and grow to a size where some viewed it as a real rival to the Big Three in the industry. Being absorbed by a fierce competitor was sure to jangle some nerves at the acquired company.
"Not only did we meet the targets we set with customers after the Magma deal, but we were very open and truthful with the Magma employees. What we knew, we told them about, and what we didn't know, we told them that we didn't," Tinsley says.
The executive brings with him a wealth of M&A and business development experience from stints at some of the biggest technology companies, including Intel Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Intuit Inc. Yet the 51-year-old, who has spent about eight years at Synopsys, says the company's dealmaking apparatus has been fine-tuned to the point where "I almost don't have to say anything at all."
"We as a team have gotten very good at finding companies, courting them, doing the dance, and then once we pull the trigger, getting them up and running, so we're able to sell product on day one, and the new employees have their badges on day one," he says. "I'm very proud of our discipline."