TechInsights has been sharing intelligence on chip manufacturing with IC Knowledge for several years to help the U.S. firm update its costing models.An Ottawa company that reverse-engineers semiconductors to help electronics manufacturers better understand the components they’re buying and give other chip-makers insights into their competitors’ products has pulled the trigger on its fifth acquisition in the last two years amid surging demand for its platform. TechInsights closed a deal this week to acquire Massachusetts-based IC Knowledge, which makes software that helps customers calculate how much it costs to manufacture semiconductor chips. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founded in 2000, IC Knowledge creates detailed costing models of semiconductor components based on factors such as the equipment involved in the manufacturing, prices of raw materials as well as input from insiders at production plants. Electronics manufacturers and other customers use that data to get a clearer picture of semiconductor production costs in an effort to negotiate better deals from chipmakers. “This kind of information you can’t just sort of look up in a catalogue,” explained TechInsights chief technology officer Jason Abt. TechInsights has been sharing intelligence on chip manufacturing with IC Knowledge for several years to help the U.S. firm update its costing models. As the relationship deepened, the two companies decided it made sense to combine their operations. “We’ve been collaborating for a very long time,” Abt told Techopia on Friday. “It’s such a great fit.” It’s the latest in a series of M&A transactions aimed at sharpening the Ottawa firm’s market intelligence skills since Gavin Carter came on board as CEO five years ago. While TechInsights has traditionally been focused on reverse engineering, in recent years it has expanded into the field of market research through deals such as last year’s acquisition of San Jose-based VLSI Research. Bringing IC Knowledge into the fold now adds pricing intelligence to its platform, further augmenting the services it can sell to its growing customer base, Abt explained. “Bringing those … pieces together into a single offering is that much more valuable to the market,” he said. TechInsights’ roots stretch back to the late 1980s, when local tech firm MOSAID began dissecting the components of semiconductor memory devices, producing reports that included detailed circuit schematics and other analysis. In 1989, MOSAID’s reverse engineering business was spun off as a company called Semiconductor Insights, which was later rebranded TechInsights. The firm merged with fellow Ottawa tech intelligence provider Chipworks in 2016 and has been on a steady ascent ever since as sales of semiconductors have surged thanks to the growing number of devices connected through wireless technology. Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic and rising inflation have also driven demand for manufacturing and pricing intelligence, Abt added. “We’re seeing the downstream market becoming much better educated because they know they have to to be competitive,” he explained. “The demand for the information that we provide in our platform has never been stronger.” TechInsights now has more than 500 employees, up from about 400 a year ago, as it continues to expand its global footprint. While Ottawa remains its home base and largest employment hub, the firm has U.S. offices in Boston, Denver and San Jose. It also has a growing presence in Europe, where it has operations in England and Poland, and Asia, where it has staff in Seoul, Taiwan and Tokyo. Abt said TechInsights is eyeing a number of other potential M&A transactions in a bid to keep adding “pieces of complementary analysis” to its platform. “There are still a few areas that I’d like to have more coverage, and I think we can do that through acquisitions,” he said.
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