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Intrinsic ID: How Silicon Valley-based Synopsys acquired this advanced Eindhoven-based tech company

Pim, left, and Sander

(Editor’s note: This post on Intrinsic ID is part of our Tech Tuesdays series. Dispatches covers tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.)

A few weeks ago, Synopsys, an $80 billion-plus (yes, with a ‘B’!) market cap company, announced it had completed the acquisition of Dutch technology company Intrinsic ID. Intrinsic ID: My friends AND my customer.

I had the chance to reflect a little bit on the news for a few weeks now and decided to share my story with you. This is a story about a success. It is also a story about grit, entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance, innovation, and, perhaps more importantly, friendship.

It must have been years ago … like many, many years ago. Pim Tuyls, founder and CEO of Intrinsic ID and I met in the lobby of a hotel in Southern California; I don’t remember which city, but I vividly remember our meeting.

I liked him; instantly.

Hailing from Belgium, he and I were connected in language, cultural background, value system and beliefs. It was also clear in the first few minutes that we were “different,” but we also instantly connected.

Big data. Information concept. 3D render

Different is where the magic is

Clearly, Pim is different from me. Pim is the world’s leading thought leader and innovator on the topic of chip security and PUFs. “PUF” stands for “Physical Unclonable Function” – a physical structure placed within a physical entity to create a unique identity. This unique identity is used as the foundation, or “root of trust,” for security.

The (maybe) simpler version of this story is that every semiconductor has a molecular structure as unique as a fingerprint or a snowflake. Even chips produced in the same factory, from the same wafer and at the same time, will vary ever so slightly from those on either side of them. And Pim figured out a way to use that difference to create a “Fort Knox” level of security on chips. Pim has a PhD in Theoretical Physics, was a professor at the University of Leuven (2005-2008), and invented and commercialized this PUF technology globally. He holds 50 patents.

And me? Well, I am none of those things!

I give outside perspective, drive marketing and help sharpen commercial activity. And, in Pim and me being different was exactly where the magic was.

Pim also had another thing in common with me: Royal Philips and NXP Semiconductors. He had started his business on what, today, is called High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Back in the day, it was called “Philips Research.” Philips had incubated the technology, NXP had nurtured it, and Pim created a global powerhouse with it.

Pim told me about his business, his customers, and his vision; to be in every chip in the world and make sure chips, and the applications they end up in, are safe and secure. We also concluded it was too early to collaborate, but we said we’d stay in touch. 

From that day onwards, I followed Pim and his team.

Joining the team

Fast forward, two years ago; Pim and I had stayed in touch. We had talked, exchanged knowledge, and we had helped one another. Pim decided Intrinsic ID was ready for a “Fractional CMO.” I joined and helped Pim and his team position the business over and beyond the technology, target new customers, and penetrate new verticals.

We did some more mainstream marketing.

I got to know Pim even better, met with his co-founder Geert-Jan Schrijen, and had the absolute pleasure to work with fellow Brabander and awesome guy, Vincent van der Leest in Eindhoven. Vincent and I are very different and very much the same at the same time, and I enjoyed working with him.

The Intrinsic ID team is unique. With the majority of engineering based in Eindhoven, this business has incredible stability. With Pim and a few others based in Silicon Valley, we were able to be super close to customers and the market. It was a success. Intrinsic ID’s technology can be found in more than 750 million devices and most large semiconductor companies are on Intrinsic ID’s impressive list of customers.

For me, this collaboration all culminated in the campaign and PR we did around Intrinsic ID’s 15th Anniversary where we celebrated the technology, the customers and the employees! I am happy that the technology and all the employees are now with Synopsys. Synopsys, with Pim and all employees, will put this necessary technology in the hands of more companies and the world will be a better place because of that.

I hope Pim will write a book about the company and his journey. It will be a “must read.” He is a true thought leader and entrepreneur and I believe that many companies can learn a lot from him on how to incubate a technology (Pim and team created an entirely new category!), grew it and let it fly!

I wish all of the team involved lots of success in this next exciting chapter, and I will miss working with all of you!

I have some time on my hands that I can fill with new adventures. Hit me up if you want to work together!


See more from Sander here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read our interview with Pim here.

Website | + posts

Sander Arts worked for or with a variety of European and US tech companies. Currently, he’s an independent investor and consultant based in Silicon Valley.

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