Tag Archives: New Oroville

Catalytic conversion

This story begins with a small piece of industry news: one of the better-known companies in our space, Celoxica (of Abington, UK), last month sold the software tools side of its business to another company named Catalytic (of Palo Alto, CA) for a reported $3M.

I have to confess, I had been totally unaware of Catalytic prior to seeing the news. But the name seemed awfully familiar.

Then I remembered why: there is a company called Catalytic Software in our office building in Kirkland. I see their name on the reader-board in the lobby every day when I walk in.

I web-searched “Catalytic Software”, and yes indeed, they share the same street address.

In fact, they are on the same floor of our building.

So I went to their website (at www.catalytic.com) and started reading.

What a surprise!

I know the founder, Eric Engstrom. Eric worked one desk away from me at Data I/O Corporation at the end of the 1980s. That was his first technology job, after moving to the Seattle area from Oroville, Washington. I remember Eric being bright, impatient, a fast programmer and an equally fast talker. He drove a dented and sun-faded Mazda RX-7 and commuted often back to Oroville, where he and a friend owned a coin-op carwash as a side business. Oroville was (and still is) in the middle of nowhere, many miles from any major city and just a few minutes from the Canadian border in Eastern Washington. Eric was, like me, non-degreed but he was clever and entrepreneurial.

Eric left Data I/O to join Microsoft in the early 1990s where he became something of a rising star. He invented much of the DirectX technology and ran the MSN business unit for a time. He appeared before the grand jury in the Department of Justice case against Microsoft, an experience that evidently led to his departure.

After leaving Microsoft, Eric founded two or three small companies, and sold one to AOL. Which is to say, Eric has done well.

Eric’s latest venture is Catalytic, where he and his long-time friend Swain Porter, also from Oroville, are working to create an offshore software development company. But a different kind of company. I can’t do the story justice here, but it’s worth reading about how Swain and Eric have created what is essentially a company town in India, with innovative dome homes where knowledge workers can live in a low-impact, technology utopia, along with their families.

New Oroville

Oh, and the name of this utopian town in India? New Oroville.

Eric dropped by the office for a visit and we caught up. He still has a mile-a-minute mind and grand ideas. But a good guy, very entertaining.

Anyway, back to the other Catalytic. The result of this seems like a reasonable merging of competencies; Catalytic has a MATLAB-based design flow, while Celoxica has a more C-like design flow into FPGAs.

And I noticed in the press this week that Catalytic now has a new name: Agility.

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Filed under News Shmews, Reconshmiguration