Examiner chats with Dennis Laudick, VP of Partner Marketing at ARM and Chris Doran, founder and COO of Geomerics, who discuss ARM’s recent acquisition of the company and how it’ll affect both entities moving forward.
Geomerics’ Enlighten software is a real-time global illumination technology and is a proven commodity in the industry, deliver fully-dynamic lighting solutions on PCs, game consoles and mobile platforms. The technology has been used in titles the likes of “Battlefield 3 and 4,” “Need for Speed Rivals,” “Eve Online,” and “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”
Examiner: How important is this acquisition for you guys?
Chris Doran: From Geomerics’ perspective, it represents a significant milestone in our development. We move from being an SME with investors and many different pulls on our time, to a company that is more able to focus on its core technical and commercial objectives. A number of activities around securing funding and closing the acquisition will no longer be necessary, and that gives us back a large amount of time to focus in on what matters.
Dennis Laudick: From ARM’s perspective, we’ve been seeing tremendous success in our Mali line of media and graphics products with over 300% year-on-year growth in number of units by our partners the last few years. As we look to the future of graphics, improved lighting and related effects are an important area that will define the leaders in the future market. Having Geomerics as part of ARM will allow us to ensure our future products continue to provide market leading features and performance while also giving us great insight and connections with the wider ecosystem and people who use those products. So, basically, it’s an important expansion on what was already a successful and growing product area for us.
Examiner: What can you get accomplished now that you didn't think you could previously?
Doran: At a technical level we can be slightly more long-term in our planning. We have the ability now to devote time to some of the tasks that we will start to see the benefit from in two years time. This makes it a lot easier to make the ‘right’ decisions in architecting the product, and be slightly less driven by closing the next deal. That is not to say that we will lose our commercial focus, just that can afford to put more effort into longer-term work so that we are in a stronger position in two years time. This is the luxury of knowing where you will be in two year’s time, which you don’t have as an SME.
On the commercial side, ARM will enable us to achieve a number of goals that were simply out of reach. ARM has great reach into Asia, with strong ties in China and Korea for example. These are potentially huge markets for us, but we have not been able to tap into them for all sorts of reasons.
ARM can give us this reach on day one, which is really exciting.
Examiner: How important was it for you to be able to retain all of Geomerics' staff with the acquisition?
Doran: I think this was essential for both parties and we all fought to make this happen.
Laudick: Agreed. Although we are excited by the technology that Geomerics have developed, we are also excited about where the technology can still go. And it’s the team that’s going to deliver that. So, as with all of ARM, having a knowledgeable, strong, motivated team working in the right environment is very important to the future.
It’s important to keep in mind that ARM and Geomerics have been working together for over two years. Our initial discussions about working more closely together were born out of not only the technology synergies but also the excitement and mutual respect developed by the teams already.
As we looked at it in more detail, it was obvious the teams were very complimentary and that was an important part of the thought process that led us to this transaction.
Examiner: What made this acquisition possible? What attracted you to their brand?
Laudick: That’s one of the things that make this transaction interesting. As mentioned, we’ve already been working together for some time. And it was through that partnership that we began to see how unique and advanced the techniques developed by Geomerics’ were and, as our own plans for accelerating our position in the graphics market continued to develop, you could see the synergies behind the technologies. However, one of the unique aspects of this transaction is that the teams have already been working together and through this, it was also easy to see the complimentary thinking and compatibility of the teams. So, in the end, the process of understanding the fit between the two companies was pretty straightforward.
Examiner: What projects are you considering implementing your new acquisition on?
Doran: Our plan on day one is to keep Geomerics operating largely as they are. We want to increase their reach and help them bring in new customers, but we have seen their roadmap and fully buy in to what they are trying to achieve. Outside of Enlighten, you can see from our joint research that Geomerics bring real insight to high-end graphics to our GPU division. We expect to firm up these relationships to help ensure that our Mali GPUs remain at the top end of performance and with advanced and unique features for mobile devices, delivering increasingly console level graphics. But the specific plans around this will be developed over time and announced as they become available to the market.
Examiner: How important is lighting in a video game?
Doran: It is essential. If you do not light things in a virtual world, then you are just left with a black screen. Every pixel on the screen has to perform some calculation to determine how bright it should be and what colour it is, and this all comes down to a lighting calculation. Over time the boundary of how much calculation you perform at run-time, versus how much you perform off-line and store in memory, has moved. The more you can do at run-time the better the quality, and Geomerics’ Enlighten is a key part of this natural progression.
Laudick: Agreed and, as mentioned, we are already seeing the ARM Mali products growing rapidly in the market. Ensuring that these products continue to push the boundary on performance and features is key to this continued success and Geomerics bring a significant increment to our plans.
Examiner: How will this change day-to-day operations at ARM?
Laudick: To be completely honest, not a huge amount. This is not to discount the value and talents of the Geomerics’ team but is reflective of the facts that a) staying at the front edge of graphics technology today is a major investment and ARM already has a very sizable effort behind this and b) the Geomerics team is highly compatible and complimentary with ARM as we’ve seen through our work together over the last few years.
Examiner: Anything else you'd like to add on the news?
Doran: The team at Geomerics is very pleased to have this opportunity to continue working on and expanding our product range inside ARM. It is a great opportunity, and we are looking forward to seeing the reception we get next year for some of our plans.
Laudick: From an ARM perspective, we’re delighted to have Geomerics’ joining our highly successful Mali team and we look forward to not only supporting them in their product plans but also realizing the synergies to be had from both a technology and a market activity perspective.