The long haul in the embedded software business.

Chris Lanfear from VDC systems asks

FSMLabs has the product line, but lacks the market presence and awareness that other companies have invested in with venture-backed capital. We believe the company has largely bootstrapped itself over the years and while this conservative approach has a number of benefits, it is difficult to achieve the market presence of a MontaVista that way. That said, the problems that MontaVista appears to have are only compounded by investors with high-return expectations. Maybe the folks in Socorro have a better plan?cite

And that’s reasonably on target. We have grown slowly, invested in technology and engineering, remain relatively clueless about “market presence”, and have a pretty straightforward business operation (make products with some compelling technical advantage, sell them at a profit, sell support at break even or better, move towards more integrated products, leverage the open source
base so we don’t re-create commodity stuff, … ). Chris underestimates the number of mission critical applications using RTLinux, but see “clueless about marketing” above. Our sales guys have to sell the stuff on price and quality – a daunting task in this market.

Chris mentions our lack of VC investment, and one of the reasons we have not taken VC investment is that we have resisted pressures to make up stories about fabulous wealth in blinks of an eye and “innovative” business models that create profits from “market presence”. We sell highly complex, technical software that requires a long slow engineering and test process. Our “business model” of looking for compelling technical advantage pushes us towards hard problems (you can’t obtain a compelling technical advantage on work that can be done easily).