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Mention chip design and testing software a few years ago, and the response would have been one big, long yawn. These days, the industry is all the rage. The fifth such company went public this week, lifting the spirits of Silicon Valley lawyers that more tech deals are soon to come. “I’m hopeful that seeing [these deals] get done means that we’ll have some of the other deals we’ve had on ice start to heat up,” said Scott Stanton, a Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich partner who had a hand in one of the deals Oct. 31. For the most part, periodic signs of life in the initial public offering market haven’t meant good news for tech industries. Among the 296 IPOs listed on www.ipo.com for this year are some big names like Accenture Ltd. and Weight Watchers International Inc. — but tech IPOs are still few and far between. Which is why this week’s IPO of Magma Design Automation Inc., a chip design software maker, had veteran Silicon Valley securities lawyer Jorge del Calvo almost misting up. “It sort of makes me feel nostalgic, really,” said del Calvo, “like I came back to a long-lost youth.” Magma was the first IPO all year for the Pillsbury Winthrop partner, who ushered scores of clients through the gate during the IPO boom. For one thing, the offering represents Pillsbury’s second Silicon Valley client to go public this year. Both went to market in the past four weeks and both are in that formerly unappealing industry of making chip design and testing software. The first of those deals, LogicVision Inc., went public Oct. 31, with Pillsbury partners Stanton Wong and Gabriella Lombardi in charge. Gray Cary’s Stanton represented the underwriter. For del Calvo, the deals are the payoff of a long-term strategy that had him comparing his client base to the kinds of companies venture capitalists were funding. “It would have been easy to become all Internet all the time, but we consciously continued to do [these other industries],” said del Calvo. When it comes to taking clients public this year, Valley firms have struggled. IPO maven Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati took public just five clients this year, which surprisingly is still more than any other firm, according to ipo.com. Cooley Godward took public just three clients and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, just one. By contrast, the three firms together took 93 clients public last year. Mark Bertelsen, a Wilson Sonsini partner who represented Magma’s underwriter, said the IPOs this fall, including the tech deals, are giving Valley lawyers hope. “People are becoming cautiously optimistic,” Bertelsen said. “But there are still some miles to walk before we have decent visibility.”

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