Altium on the Move

Altium is moving to Shanghai.

Yes, you read that right. Sydney’s favorite EDA software developer is turning Chinese, relocating its headquarters and R&D operations to the mainland.

That’s the “what.” The “why” is not so clear.

In a press release, Altium spoke of the “Internet of Things,” China’s talent pool and the potential for greater revenue in China.

I’m probably on the Web 15 hours a day (or more, according to my wife), but I’m mot sure what the “Internet of Things” is. I’m guessing it has something to do with Altium’s move toward cloud computing. If so, it doesn’t need Shanghai for that. Server containers, especially ones laden with databases, should be located wherever energy is cheapest and IP secure. Shanghai is an incredibly safe metropolis insofar as physical well-being is concerned. For technology protections, not so much.

As for the Chinese talent pool and revenue potential, that’s all true. But it would be equally true if Altium maintained a token HQ in Sydney. Companies do that all the time.

The distance from Sydney to Shanghai is about 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Having been to both, I can also say they are quite a bit farther apart in terms of lifestyles and cultures. I’m not certain how Nick Martin convinced his top execs to move, but it couldn’t have been easy.

Compared to its rather staid EDA competitors, Altium is more unpredictable and daring (and usually more fun as a result), and usually those moves have paid off. I’m having trouble seeing the advantages here, though.