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One Great Leap for frog design

The design consultant may have been out of the spotlight under Flextronics, but its co-CEOs say it's ready for KKR's bigger pond

The record rains that have been battering California this Spring have taken a day off, and a glorious sunshine bathes the green hills and horse pastures in the corner of Silicon Valley where frog design is headquartered. As Hartmut Esslinger arrives at his favorite sushi haunt in his lemon-yellow 2006 Porsche Carerra 4S, the 61-year-old co-CEO of frog design seems as relaxed as his unruly mane of hair.

And for good reason. It's another banner day in Esslinger's career -- one that many industry insiders figured was nearing its end when he and his wife, co-CEO Patricia Roller, sold the company to Flextronics in 2004 for roughly $25 million. But earlier in the day, news had broken that frog had been part of a $900 million sale of software companies, all acquired by Flextronics (FLEX) in recent years, to private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Neither Esslinger nor Roller, who handles frog's business side, would comment on the purchase price, although sources say it was more than Flextronics paid for their company in the first place. "We're very excited," says Esslinger.