Founded in 2005, Marseille Inc. is leveraging its proprietary virtual design technology to transform the way that semiconductors are designed and built. Initially applying the technology to develop its new VTV-1200 family of 4K/3D video processors, the company’s virtual design platform is poised to speed time to market, enable greater product differentiation and lower design costs for the greater semiconductor industry. The company announced $4.5 million in Series B funding in April 2011 and recently signed a deal with a multibillion international institution. With funding under its belt, Marseille is poised to revolutionize the semiconductor industry and eliminate much of the waste involved in chip production.
The company won the Red Herring North America 100 in 2010, and was recognized as a Red Herring Global 100 winner this past December. Following the conference in Los Angeles, Red Herring shared a conversation with CEO Amine Chabane.
RED HERRING: How does the technology work and what advantages does it give you over the competition?
CHABANE: We are on track to completely transform the multibillion dollar semiconductor industry. It’s becoming a commodity to do a chip. The challenge is not simply to build silicon for the sake of building silicon, but really to make sure that the end customer can consume the silicon at the systems level and test it before it’s born. The question is how do you help this multibillion industry address the concerns of the last 10 years—the inefficiency and the huge risk involved in building silicon, and do it at a cost and volume that makes sense, so you can make money?
We’ve come up with a new platform that allows manufacturers to test highly specific applications. Using the analogy of a bakery, we’ve created an oven that allows the cook to taste the cookie before baking the batch. Our platform allows chip makers to test the flexibility of their chip design before the silicon is manufactured. The silicon only goes into mass production after they are completely satisfied with the design.
RH: How does this intelligence transform the semiconductor market?
CHABANE: All of a sudden it becomes affordable to do silicon. If you spend $70 to 100 million to build a product that only generates $100 million in revenue, it’s difficult to produce a profit. We make it fast and capital efficient to develop the silicon because the product is right on the money from day one, and we do it at a fraction of the cost. Our technology also enables companies to develop many more flavors of products quickly. It’s really a new way to generate billions of dollars of revenue.
RH: You recently signed a large deal. How will this transform the company?
CHABANE: Though we’re not able to say much about the transaction, the deal is closed and Marseille no longer needs to worry so much about capital itself. We can say that a multibillion international institution focused on IPOs just closed a major double digit deal with our investors in the company. They are now seeing the benefits of this chip virtualization, and we are setting an ambitious path for the direction of the company over the next three to four years.
We started applying the technology to the 4K and 3D video markets to prove the benefits of this platform to develop high performance and cost effective competence for this market. Now we have the financial backbone to drive hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, which allows us to apply this platform beyond the video market.
RH: How do you see this technology further evolving?
CHABANE: We can use this technology to completely transform the silicon industry. Any product related to video, communication, and networking can benefit, including mobile itself, a multibillion industry. Now that we have the financial backbone, what becomes interesting is identifying the best use. This technology can be applied to so many markets that we have to decide what’s the most beneficial for the company.
RH: What are some of your strongest markets you can affect?
CHABANE: Take handheld devices, wallets, tablets. It still takes 15 to 18 months to build silicon from scratch, but the product life cycle of handheld devices moves so quickly that the old methodology is not scalable. This platform allows manufacturers to benefit from a shorter time to market, but also enables them to build highly differentiated products. There are so many better products that can be built if you have a capital efficient process to test the design. Initially, we were driven as a product company, but we can open the platform to the larger semiconductor market.
RH: How large can this get in a few years?
CHABANE: Within the next three to four years, we should easily be able to drive hundreds of millions of revenue. It’s up to us and our investors to decide how fast we want to build the company. There’s no reason why we can’t drive billions of dollars and just scale it. The timing is right for us, and the ecosystem is right on the money.
What’s important to realize is the vision of the company hasn’t changed. We were forced to innovate during the recession, but now that we have the financial backbone, it’s the perfect timing to apply this market recipe to different segments. We can truly transform this industry.