Over the many years I have spent as an editor, there are a few people that stand out for their creativity and impact on the semiconductor industry. One such person, Dr. Lucio Lanza, more than qualifies as one of those standouts. He was just honored by the Electronic Design Automation community with the 2014 Phil Kaufman Award for his contributions to the EDA industry. The award, named in honor of Phil Kaufman, a former Intel employee who actually worked side-by-side with Lucio in the late 70’s, and went on to become CEO of Quickturn Systems, and founded Silicon Compilers, where he was the chairman and president. Unfortunately, during one of his overseas business trips for Silicon Compilers he died of a sudden heart attack.
Lucio’s career started in 1968 as an engineer at Olivetti in Italy where he was responsible processor architecture and design. In 1977 he joined Intel Corp. and moved to California where he rose to Chairman of the Microprocessor Strategic Business Segment. During his work at Intel he worked closely with Phil Kaufman, who managed the graphics and communications product lines. While at Intel Kaufman was a driving force behind the IEEE Ethernet standard and played a large role in developing the IEEE Floating-Point Standard.
While at Intel Lucio saw the need for design tools that would help design productivity keep pace with the increasing complexity of the chips that designers had to create. Keeping an eye out for trends, Lucio also saw opportunities in Ethernet communications and invested in Crescendo Communications, a successful investment venture that was eventually purchased by Cisco, which had great success with its Catalyst series of network switches that emerged from the acquisition.
The need to fill gaps in the design chain gave Lucio the impetus to leave Intel in 1983, where he joined Daisy Systems as VP of Marketing and became the general manager of the company’s EDA division. After parting ways with Daisy in 1986, he started EDA Systems, a company that would fill the gap he perceived by creating a tool framework that eased the integration of third-party tools into a unified environment. That company was acquired by Digital Equipment Corp., and following the acquisition he connected with Cadence Design Systems, serving as a consultant and guided the company through 13 acquisitions of other tool vendors.
In 1995 he parted with Cadence and helped start PDF Solutions and other familiar organizations such as Sandcraft (a MIPS IP supplier) and Forte Design Systems. (Forte was recently acquired by Cadence.) Around that time he also joined U.S. Venture Partners, a venture capital company and he also struck out on his own and spent about five years as an independent consultant to companies in the semiconductor, communications, and EDA industries.
In 2001 he decided to switch full time to the investment side and started his own company, Lanza TechVentures, an early stage venture capital and investment company, and since 2008 he has been a general partner and chief technology strategist for Radnorwood Capital LLC., an investor in public technology companies. Never one to sit still, Lucio also joined up with ARM Holdings and became a non-executive director at the company. He resigned his post at ARM in 2010 to pursue still other investment opportunities, some in non-electronic areas such as pharmaceuticals and health-related products, as well as automotive systems, analog design tools, and the internet of things.
Lucio doesn’t see any end in sight for the opportunities and even has some words of advice to startups – be sure you are working on something that has the potential to change the world, and be intellectually honest (don’t lie to yourself), analyze your strategy and rethink it regularly. The CEO job is the loneliest job and you can’t show “feels” – you have to demonstrate concise thinking based on market facts. These words of advice from Lucio echo how he has driven his career over the years in developing new companies and investing in many others.
Again, I want to congratulate Lucio on winning the Kaufman award and wish him continued success in his future endeavors.
Semiconductor Technology Editor