Well it was recently announced that Cyrix would be laying off more than half their employees in a massive blood letting.
There are some of us who knew about this before hand, but we kept it quiet in hopes it wasn't true. If you want the 'official' story you can go here, but the official story doesn't quite do this story justice. Here is what a couple of anonymous (by my choice) sources in the know had to say about this whole thing. I will post more information here as it is available. I would offer my own personal commentary on this situation, but at this point in time I don't think I would be able to publish it (too many choice phrases I think). If you are/were part of Cyrix/VIA and want to let me know how you feel about this whole thing, please drop me a line here.
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 22:05:53 -0700 (PDT) (Editors note: The original contributor got nervous and asked
Subject: Cyrix/Via/NSM that I reword this a bit so as to better hide his identity. My
apologies to him. Here is what he said in my words.)
After deciding to buy Cyrix, the CEO of Via spent a large amount of time talking to the engineers at Richardson, only to find out that the designs were well behind schedule and the motivation levels of the teams left something to be desired.
After this 'wake-up' call, he worked out a deal whereby NSM would layoff a good chunk of Cyrix, at NSM's own (and in this case pre-declared) cost, seeing as he was only interested in the IP/licensesing and some "unknown portion contingent of Cyrix product sales (rumored 50% to 67%)."
Why? Because the risk/cost was cheaper to buy the IP from NSM, dump the people, and buy Centaur.
You really can't blame VIA though. The M3 team didn't do themselves any favors with unrealistic requests for huge retention packages. Gobi itself is well behind schedule too, "and currently limited by a design screw-up to 207MHz in 0.18u (M2 currently at 300MHz)". Gobi samples didn't go out as promised in July, again missing a sampling date.
Stan Swearingen, who was widely quoted in many articles at the time of the initial sale, quietly quit a couple weeks ago.
The whole Mojave team was let go today. The M2/Gobi teams are staying.
Richardson is being shut down. If the next revision of Gobi isn't working (due later in August), then that design will go away. (They're finding bugs again that were first seen almost 12 months ago on MXi in the CPU core. A realistic estimate for production on Gobi is 9 to 12 months from today.) Anyone kept will have to re-locate to Austin. Look closely at the article -- says interviewed for POSSIBLE positions at Via. The contingent sales are for M2 and Gobi. Via wanted everything but M2 to go, but the mngt at NSM is hoping that a miracle will happen on Gobi so that they can get that money also.
Via is keeping some people at the other sites because they have experience in PC chipsets and such, and fit into their plans. Almost everyone at Richardson will wind up on the street.
Any Via x86 designs will come from Austin/Winchip.
Another person had the following comments:
you're probably curious about what happened here. National (who knows who actually made the decision) laid off 168 people throughout all of the Cyrix sites: Richardson, Arlington, Mesa, and Santa Clara. The bulk of the layoffs came from technical marketing, marketing, sales, and M3. That's right, M3 has been delayed indefinitely.
I don't care if you let that info fly. I really don't give a !@#$ anymore. I hung in there believing they would do the right thing, and now they pull the rug out from under us. The only sense I can make out of all this is that they wanted Cyrix for the GTL cross-license. I don't think I'll have a job here after the end of this month
Yet another set of comments, this one a little more on the positive side:
I was a Cyrix employee until Friday. I am not bitter about being laid off; the projects (Mojave and Gobi) were falling apart and I saw nothing that could save them. I would lay the blame on both National and the Cyrix upper management. Via just did what they had to do. Those of us who got laid off got a fantastic deal. I feel sorry for the people who had to stay! By the way not all of the Mojave team was let go; there are three that I know of remaining and probably a handful more. As of Friday they were unsure what they were there to do.
Feel free to publish this; obviously don't use my name.
Part 2: More ex-Cyrix folks speak up
National mishandled this. If they had not announced anything until they had a buyer and put a good spin on it, the buyer and the Cyrix employees would be in a much better situation and National would have been able to get a much higher price and would have achieved their objective of getting out of the x86 business. They announced in May that they will either sell or shut down Cyrix. This caused almost everyone I know to start looking for a new job in case the place shuts down. Plus, the momentum on the projects got lost because people became focused on their livelihood rather than the projects they were working on. The job market for engineers with microprocessor experience was and continues to be really hot. Thus almost all the engineering staff had offers for more pay than what they were getting at Cyrix with generous sign on bonuses and stock options and the projects had lost their momentum by the time Via arrived at the scene. There was no way for Via to retain a majority of the engineering staff and get the projects going full tilt again without "throwing cash" at the engineers.
Given the situation, Via is being cheap and perhaps foolish. They do not realize how difficult it is to get people with the right experience. By laying people off in the manner that they did, they are demonstrating to the remaining Cyrix employees and to those at Centaur that they really don't care about the employees. Who'd want to remain with such an organization. I agree with the statement Via is putting out that "anyone can be replaced." The statement is true but it will take the replacement a considerable amount time to get to where the previous guy left off. The end result of replacing someone is that your product will take longer to make it to market.
I do not feel bad for having been laid off. I already had another job lined up and the severance package was generous. Via is stepping into a business that is difficult to sustain. They seem to be in the slash and burn mode. In the end, they may not be able to sustain the businesses long enough to get out their original investment.
Yet another view point:
I was an employee at Cyrix for 5 1/2 years and I left before National completely took control, but my intuition told me that it was time to "hit the road" before the situation caved in.
I didn't believe that National could nurture and grow the Cyrix business model in the fashion that the original management had intended. National had no experience making such complex devices from design to finished product.
The MII and future silicon to compete with Intel and AMD would need a world class fab and support organization that National did not have. IBM (Iceberg as it was called back then) was the optimal choice to take Cyrix to the next level and beyond to fully compete in the CPU market. IBM had the best facility, process and support that Cyrix needed to migrate to higher clock speeds to provide increasingly faster products on a timely scale.
I have many friends there at Cyrix (and some that are not!) that are worried about their future and that of the company. A good company and good people has been ripped apart by the mismanagement of National Semiconductor.
This is just my opinion, I may be wrong. (Dennis Miller)
Thanks to 'tuck' for having this article e-mailed to me http://www.ebnews.com/story/OEG19990812S0036 which is titled "Via's Cyrix acquisition may delay some microprocessor lines." I'm not sure whether I buy everything that is said in there, but it is not my job to be a reality filter for everyone.
August 15, 1999: Received more comments on Cyrix. This one is a real tell all if you will about the Gobi design team. Quite an interesting read.
I need to correct some misinformation disseminated by an apparent M3 team member on Aug. 6 regarding the Gobi project. I also wanted to pass on the true story of the last 3 months at Cyrix, as told by someone who has been involved with projects which generate revenue that has paid M3 salaries for about 4 years.
The Gobi team has met every project milestone today date, with the exception of the original tapeout date. It is not "well behind schedule" as one posting implied. The team was actually able to make up a slight slip in the tapeout date and delivered solid 333 MHz silicon samples to internal customers on 7/22/99.
When the first silicon arrived (on Memorial Day weekend), a very motivated team, armed full well with the knowledge that National had decided to "immediately cease slugging it out in the standalone PC market", dug in and found in less than 3 days a circuit bug which was killing the speed. A tapeout to fix this problem was done by the end of the first week. Pretty damn good for a team who, by the way, was not out looking for jobs.
The real story about Via's choice to layoff people has to do with the fact that our R&D burn rate
is about $10 million/month. Once this fact was unearthed, Via had to rethink its strategy and start
immediately reducing costs. In addition, the motivation level of the M3 team prior to the layoffs
was nonexistent. Anyone truly knowledgeable about the Gobi project would have observed its motivation level to be "lower" than in previous months, but team focus was continuing to improve through the months of June and July. Problems were being resolved and fixes were being put in place. Progress was being made in spite of all the distractions of the day.
A recent posting states "They're finding bugs again that were first seen almost 12 months ago on MXi in the CPU core." This is erroneous as well. My guess is this "fact" was incorrectly gleaned from a recent Gobi project status report which indirectly related recent bugs found to previous MXi bugs. This one must have been posted from a rumor-monger instead a project-doer.
>From the day the National announcement was made in May, I have heard two basic themes:
1) M3 team members whining and asking, "What can Via do for me?"
2) Gobi team members asking, "What can I do to make Cyrix and Via successful?"
The Gobi team has never received one offer of assistance from any M3 team members. That is, until several M3 team members were "asked" to join the Gobi project immediately after the mass layoff. This behavior is what caused the company to fall apart more than anything; lack of teamwork and focusing on things on which we had absolutely no influence. A sad state of affairs in a company which had many chances over the years to "eat Intel's lunch."