Archive for 2009
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
(Liz Massingill was fortunate enough to snag Harry Gries … the ASIC Guy for an interview on a rainy Friday morning. Here’s what they had to say.)
Liz: Harry, why do you blog?
Harry: There’s really 2 parts to that … why did I start and why do I keep doing it. I was having lunch with a good friend a few years ago, who is also a blogger, and I was sharing my opinions about some subject when he said “you should have a blog.”
I always liked to write and always had an opinion, so I said, “what the heck.” It was right before SNUG (Synopsys Users Group) so I also thought it would be a good way to do some personal marketing since I’m an independent consultant. So I got the blog up just in time for SNUG.
Liz: Was your first blog successful?
Harry: When I first started writing the blog, I told a few friends and colleagues about it and they subscribed and commented. Then, one day, I got a comment from someone I did not know at all. That was the first time I knew that people were reading this other than my friends.
Liz: That first comment must have gotten the adrenaline going. So why do you continue to blog?
Harry: As for why I keep going, I think I actually get a lot out of writing it. It keeps me plugged into what is going on in the industry. Also, I’ve met people through the blog that I never would have had a chance to know.
One example: There was a press release related to something one of the big 3 EDA companies was doing for training for their consultants. I wanted to write something about it on my blog so I emailed the VP of Consulting, who I did not know, and he answered back and did the interview. I never would have been able to do that without the blog.
Also, I’ve found that the people who read my blog are pretty influential, so it’s good to know them as well.
Liz: It never ceases to amaze me how small the internet has made our world. Who is your audience?
Harry: That’s a good question. With RSS, you never really know exactly who is reading. However, from the comments I get, from the people that follow me on Twitter, and from the analytics, I can tell that there are a lot of people in EDA companies, especially sales and marketing types.
Liz: Do you have Google analytics to find out how many hits you get?
Harry: Analytics helps, but not in the way you might think. I’m more interested in learning how people find my blog rather than who they are. I can tell what keywords they might have used in Google or what links they came from and that helps me to understand what they are looking for as valuable content.
Liz: Can you give me an example?
Harry: Well, lemme pull up my analytics right now: I just did a quick scan and noticed that “verification” and “FPGA” were used as search terms several times to find me. So I might write my next blog post on “FPGA verification.”
Liz: Then it is very useful.
(End of Part One.)
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
(Liz Massingill concludes her conversation with blogger Dan Nenni.)
Liz: I know that bloggers don’t want press releases. They want to talk about trends.
Dan: Every blogger has an agenda. I blog about experiences, companies, and technologies that I know, positive and negative trends that I see. I do blogs on TSMC and the other foundries all the time. My agenda there is to let people know that if you are part of the semiconductor design enablement supply chain you need to be very close to the foundries. When bloggers are really product specific, like some corporate bloggers are, it just looks like something from a company–a public notice. But if they talk about market trends and put their personality and their experiences into it, then it becomes interesting.
Liz: How long will it take the industry to be more social media savvy?
Dan: I don’t know if it will be in my professional lifetime or not? But if you look at it, we’re raising the Social Media Generation— Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.
I have 4 kids, and all of them are really into it. They’re prolific texters–they communicate with their thumbs. When those people get jobs and become our target market you’re going to have to market to them, right?
Unfortunately, most people our age aren’t that savvy. I picked it up early because I have kids. I’m involved with them and their social media habits. I have 6 cell phones and I didn’t have texting because my kids were starting to drive. My Verizon bill was thousands of minutes. They begged me for texting so I got the unlimited plan. My calling minutes went from thousands to a few hundred. The thing is that they don’t communicate by phone, that’s just not the way their generation wants to communicate, period. I turned texting off on my phone to eliminate yet another distraction.
My attitude was that if you want to talk to me, call or email me. And they don’t (laughs). So those are the people we are bringing up now, the thumb generation, and this is happening in America, China, Iran, everywhere.
If you don’t GET social media, you are going to be at a significant disadvantage in business and life in general. I think we’re coming close on the business side. Companies should start now or they won’t be competitive. That’s why I’m an evangelist for social media because it’s THE most cost effective demand creation vehicle.
In our business, the average shelf life of a marketing message is like a loaf of bread, things/specs change so quickly. You need to refresh your message in a cost effective manner on a monthly basis; and that is Social Media.
Liz: There’s always press releases (laughs)
Dan: People don’t care. No offense but traditional PR does not work the way it used to.
Liz: What about print media vs. online media? Aren’t there many people who would rather read a hard copy than have to remember to go read something online?
Dan: I don’t read the newspaper anymore because by the time I get it, it’s old news, so I use Google Reader. I’m on my laptop anyway doing email, watching videos, etc… How much time do people spend on their computers? 50% of your day? Some people even eat in front of their computers.
(Liz raises hand sheepishly.)
Dan: So where are you going to get your news? In the newspaper, the only thing I read is the comics, the Jumble, Dear Abby, Safeway ads (I do the shopping). Nothing else, and I hate getting news print ink all over the place. Seriously, smudge proof ink, how hard is that?
Liz: What is it you want or don’t want from PR people?
Dan: I want PR people to embrace social media and make it their own, simple as that. Bloggers are easy to work with. Bloggers want blog views, views are empowering and feed our massive egos. You have no idea what a burden it is to support a massive ego, so anything you can do to help get blog views is greatly appreciated. Invite us to functions, buy us lunch, integrate Social Media into your business model, just don’t send us press releases!
Liz: Jim Hogan threw down this gauntlet in his recent presentation at ICCAD….that EDA is complacent. We’ve talked a bit today about how there doesn’t seem to be much of an interest in EDA but a lot of interest in foundries. How do you think that relates? Do you agree with Jim’s assertion?
Dan: Yes EDA is complacent, I agree with Jim. My audience is definitely interested in the foundries, also semiconductor IP and design services. So why not EDA? One theory is that EDA does not share the risks and rewards of semiconductor design, so EDA is not invested in/with the customer. EDA software is licensed upfront and gets paid whether the customer is successful or not.
Foundries, IP companies, and design services are more success oriented and get paid on volume silicon shipments. Based on that, customers view EDA companies differently, especially when licenses expire and their design has not taped-out yet!
Liz: How do FPGAs figure into the picture?
Dan: FPGAs are a big factor in the decline of EDA, and everybody knows it. I think that is a relevant point if you are talking about the state of EDA. FPGA design starts are going up and ASIC/EDA design starts are going down. FPGA’s are also success based with volume silicon shipments being the big payday for all, sound familiar?
Liz: What do you think the trend for EDA will be for the next 10 years?
Dan: EDA is going to be interesting the next few years, and I am happy to be a part of it. I would like to send a strong but positive message: Change is coming. If EDA does not embrace this change, it’s going to be a very costly experience. Success based business models are key, working closely with the foundries is key, being an accretive member of the semiconductor design enablement community is the cure for EDA complacency. Believe it.
– end –
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan gave an ICCAD audience their take on what’s ahead (over the next decade) for EDA.
They ended the session with the gauntlet statement: “EDA is too complacent.” And curiously, not one person responded.
If you’re interested in what Jim and Paul presented (and what the responses have been from industry bloggers and reporters), click on the Lee PR link here: http://leepr.com/Home.html
Monday, October 26th, 2009
A quick note: Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan (no slouches in knowledge and expertise) will be talking – and talking with the audience – about the future of chip design and silicon platforms from now til 2020.
This event will be held during ICCAD, on Monday, November 2, from 3 -4 pm in the Silicon Valley Room at the Double Tree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose 95110.
From what Liz Massingill and I hear, Jim and Paul will put several topics on the table for discussion:
__which silicon platform will become pre-dominant, ASIC or FPGA
__the role of software signoff in a traditionally-hardware world
__how these changes will affect the semiconductor supply chain (e.g., with EDA, semiconductor equipment)
This is a co-located event at ICCAD so if yo were not planning to attend ICCAD, there’s no need to register for this event.
Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I continue our conversation about what DAC ought to change to keep up with the social media-infused times. Part two or three.)
Sean: I would like to come back to Liz’s sense of excitement and what she wants to capture /preserve about Conversation Central (CC).
Liz: Here’s an example of the vastly different philosophies that differentiated CC from the press room. In the press room, they had refreshments. But it was just for the press…..not open to the rest of us, like CC was. CC, by contrast, offered refreshments and snacks to everyone. What was CC’s message? It welcomed everyone who was interested in the social media role.
Sean: So, strength/limits to CC was that it’s a small conversation. One thing that the FGPA summit did last year was to run a dinner event with about a dozen round tables where at each table there was a conversation on a posted topic
Liz: I love that idea.
Sean: What else made CC different that we should build on?
Liz: I just liked having an agenda. There were planned activities that were posted for all to see.
Sean: Having someone who nominally was a facilitator was helpful as well.
Liz: The mini-lectures with discussion afterward were the best. All of us got involved, all of us gave our opinion, from our own points of view. Inclusion is the key to buzz, momentum, value. CC brought that. So knowledgeable participants, facilitation, open access is what CC brought to the DAC formula that was new, and valuable.
Sean: Another question: should other vendors run their own CCs as well? In other words, instead of trying to centralize it, should many vendors offer a similar engagement model
Ed: Not sure I understand. So no central forum like CC was, but parcel out the CC function to vendors CC?
Sean: On the surface, it could get dis-unified at DAC’10, as we try to figure out how/what bloggers will be in the EDA/DAC world.
Ed: Even if different vendors have their own CC, there still ought to be a central CC to discuss trends, issues, roles, the changing nature of EDA, DAC. I don’t think you’d get that in vendor CCs, and even if you did, there’d be no central forum to parcel it out to interested parties like a centralized CC would. Maybe that’s the differentiation. A central CC for industry wide issues. Vendor CCs for their own stuff.
Liz: I think there needs to be a central forum, and probably not hosted by an individual vendor.
Ed: Sean, what’s your two cents on the central CC and vendor CCs?
Sean: I think the Atrenta blogfest was an effort to a do a one-off CC and I think we need more like that next year
Ed: So Sean, we could see vendor CCs in Anaheim? Will Synopsys take on the central CC next year? And will you play as prominent a role as you did this year? Clearly, we all agree that a central CC s needed.
Liz: CC was a rousing success and has an indelible place in DAC. That’s where change seems to be recognized for EDA. That is what DAC exists to encourage, right?
Sean: I think Synopsys will do another CC, but that over the next two or three years it may be captured by their marketing people and become something else, a vendor CC, if you will.
Liz: How will DAC, which run the press room, feel if Synopsys runs a central CC again?
Ed: Well, DAC runs the press room and gives the press room a mandate…or should. So far, for the last 20-plus years or so, the press room’s been that sanctuary for press. Liz, you spoke about how isolated the press room, and press, were from the action.
We’re in a period when the very existence of the press gets called into question. What can or will the EDA press do to stake a claim in the changing EDA landscape?
You’d think that they’d declare their role from the highest mountain top and put in place some sort of program to prove that they are resilient, vital and essential to EDA. But that press room was a morgue, when contrasted with the activity at CC. Granted, there have been so many press layoffs.
What the press room needs to do is – like you say, Liz – become part of the conference, not to seek sanctuary from it. They do need to help educate PR folks, marcoms, startup people who don’t know a thing about what reporters need. They need to enliven their sanctuary, become active, stop being passive. Of course, this is something the press and DAC needs to discuss and decide on. But given its current state, if nothing changes, then the press room will indeed cede its function to a central CC.
Basically, they need to become an educational, conversational forum, just like CC was this year. Actually, it’d help the press room a lot if they welcomed the bloggers and imitated the hugely successful educational program CC put on.
– end of part 2 –
Thursday, August 27th, 2009
(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I FINALLY get together to talk about DAC’09. Sean was instrumental in the highly-successful programming at Conversation Central, the bloggers room. Liz attended, participated and jawboned with the bloggers with a view toward them being a new group of individual opinion makers who, as a collective, form a cadre of influencers that take on a permanent role in the EDA world.)
Liz: So what stood out for you two at DAC?
Ed: Not so much technology but the rise of social media in EDA, and especially the role of bloggers in EDA…whatever that role might be.
Sean: For me it was conversations at the Birds-of-a-Feather session on Project Health and Conversation Central. Both venues had CEOs – admittedly CEOs of small firms – wrestling with new issues: managing global teams, social collaboration, SaaS, and cloud computing. These events allowed them and others to compare notes, explore scenarios for what future companies and design teams will look like and how they will interact. Current tools, design flows, and methodologies are not going to scale. And in both the BoF and Conversation Central, we could explore the changing landscape together. CEOs met, exchanged information and will continue the dialogue after DAC.
Ed: Sean, interesting insight. What needs to be tossed and who needs to do the tossing?
Sean: The conference needs to return to its roots. DAC was formed as a community of practice among EDA practitioners, comparing notes face to face on design automation issues that they faced. I think the conference should organize around fostering face to face conversations, between practitioners, with vendors, with researchers, at both a management and engineering level. The second thing that used to be true was that key aspects of DAC’s output were persistent. Too much of the important content–like Doug Fairbairn’s Pavilion panel–is completely ephemeral. When I look back at earlier panels often all I can find is the description, no slides, no transcript.
Liz: What stood out at DAC for me was Conversation Central. I thought it brought a lot of people from various ranks together talking about what blogging meant to EDA……….and not just about blogging but also focusing on the other forms of new social media like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Sean: Why was Conversation Central significant?
Ed: For me, it was the first time the bloggers appeared as a force. And compared to the press room, it was alive – educational, on the cusp of a new constituency in EDA.
Sean: Accentuated by the disappearance of regular press. Karen Bartleson contacted me earlier this year and said “I want to run a press room for bloggers.” We talked about it and I suggested that Synopsys instead focus on fostering conversations between a variety of stakeholders: customers, competitors, partners, new media, legacy media.
Liz: I think the press room is in the midst of being re-defined. The question is…will the press and bloggers co-mingle and be a big happy family? And will others outside the media be welcome?
Sean: Clay Shirky wrote a great piece on ” Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable < http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/ > ” which concluded “That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.” I don’t think we know what is going to take the traditional publishing model’s place.
Ed: Conversation Central gave us a valuable program, invited all interested parties to attend and participate. The twitter feed made it seem like Times Square in buzz and activity.
Liz: There was a certain energy at Conversation Central. The room was alive with enthusiasm and the sharing of ideas.
Sean : And the tweeting was viral. Karen Bartleson worked diligently to let people know about the #46DAC hashtag, and it created a common channel: that’s what gave Conversation Central its buzz, the formation of a community.
Ed: Almost like creating a town on the old west frontier, where only isolated homesteads existed before.
Liz: I tweeted for one client’s event and was pleased by the reception.
Sean: Liz, you can only say so much in twitter and it can be hard to be succinct, so kudos to you.
Liz: Twitter has its place. And the EDA bloggers know how to make good use of it. And Karen did a marvelous job in Twitter for Beginners of showcasing the various features of Twitter. I think maybe the point is that there are various forms of media that one can make use of and that it’s probably a good idea to try to tap into as many avenues as possible.
Ed: So it sounds like we’re all saying that social media will somehow, some way fundamentally affect many aspects of how EDA operates. Clearly in customer service, inevitably in marketing and PR. Now the question is, “how?”
Liz: Yes, how? Anyone have any ideas?
Sean: Maybe your readers could chime in on that.
Thursday, July 9th, 2009
(Sean Murphy turns the tables on me in a Skype discussion about how, when, why and what startups need to think about when launching their companies. The most significant discussion deals with the difference between getting mere publicity or “ink” and creating a company’s story.)
Sean: How does a startup know if or when it needs a PR firm?
Ed: It depends on where each startup is at in its funding, technology development and launch. Ideally, about a year before they want to introduce the company, they ought to get in contact so that we can start working on the storyline for the company. Why? To understand and then create differentiation for the company, its technology and products. That differentiation ought to be a direct indication of the company’s value as a vendor of consideration, its technology as a crucial bullet in accomplishing next generation design and its products as absolutely worth the money.
Sean: What does it mean to introduce a company in 2009?
Ed: Well, obviously, it’s different from 10 or even 5 years ago. But the fundamentals are still the same. The company has to get word out that it exists. That’s obvious. But also, WHY it exists, HOW it’s different. They have to show that they can make a difference. So many startups just don’t get this part. The target for PR? Those opinion makers whose words can influence users, influencers, and purchasers. Traditionally, those targets have been reporters and editors, market researchers, and financial analysts. Now, we have to add bloggers, and (gasp!) tweeters (?) The goal? Well, that’s a huge topic for discussion.
Sean: Let’s get to that in a minute. I’m curious, in EDA in particular, how many reporters, editors, market researchers, and financial analysts are there compared to 5 or 10 years ago?
Ed: Well, 5 or 10 years ago, we’d have two dozen or so key targets in the U.S., Japan and other parts of Asia and western Europe.
Sean: Targets? You mean more than editors?
Ed: Yep. Maybe a dozen reporters and editors, several market researchers, maybe half a dozen financial analysts, all of whom had audiences that affected the well being of EDA companies and of the industry as a whole. Today? Geez…can I count the number or reporters or editors on one hand? YES! There’s one market researcher: Gary Smith. The financial analysts are more or less not watching EDA any longer, and they don’t exist as entities working for investment houses.
Sean: In a technologically-dynamic landscape, financial analysts would want to be aware of emerging startups, wouldn’t they?
Ed: They would. Today, these analysts cover some of the big guys, and rarely, and in essence, no one follows the space. Of course, there was Jim Cramer recommending Cadence. Now whether or not he’s a business analyst is another question.
Sean: So why are these traditional PR audiences important?
Ed: The reporters, market researchers and indeed financial analysts, they all talk to one another. Out of that, a collective opinion begins forming amongst them all. But….EDA has never been too credible with the financial market. Jessica Kourakos, when she was with an investment bank, back in the late 90s, scolded the industry for not finding a way to demonstrate value to the public market. This, after EDA had been in the “public market” for, what, well over 10, 15 years!
Sean: With all the free press services, why should companies use a PR person?
Ed: Oh, you mean free posting sites? Well, there certainly is MUCH automation in public relations nowadays. And if all a vendor wants to do is post a press release on posting sites, they could possibly take an automated press release writing package and dink it out. But the question isn’t so much whether or not a software package can write a press release by having someone fill in the fields. Rather, the question should be: how do I want my company to be perceived as different, valuable in a new way? A potential voice of authority in the industry? A potential leader of the industry? What’s the image that a company wants to put on itself to be recognized?
Sean: I hear you breaking this into three parts: outlining/planning the release, writing the release, and distributing it – free or paid.
Ed: Well, to me, there’s ink and there’s a sustaining story. Ink is what you get as a product merchant. “Buy this for the low low price of X dollars.” There’s no story there. What’s a story? It’s how and why the company will make you live happily ever after. Once you have that story, tactics, like press releases, can flow to substantiate the veracity of the story, the coming fulfillment of that company promise to make users live happily ever after.
Sean: Why do you focus on story? What does story mean and why is it important? I hear capital S story when you say the word. You imbue it with a lot of meaning that I am having trouble appreciating.
Ed: Definitely a capital “S.” What resonates isn’t data sheet material but of the concept of what a company can be. That’s the essence of the Story, with a capital “S.” Questions to ask? What is the face of the company? For Cadence, in its early days, it was brash. It was an industry upending…a go-getter, as Costello became that company’s human emblem, especially when he declared that EDA was a software-only business. For a huge majority of companies, there is no sense of image, no sense of “and they lived happily ever after” and no sense that there’s a future at all. Most EDA startups are merchants, a few are technology trailblazers. Only a couple become industry effect. It’s all data sheet information. Data sheets don’t tell a story. The story pushes for what the company wants to be known as in three years. Example: we got hired to launch a startup several years ago. The founder said that they were already in contact with the premier reporter. That he had contacted the reporter two months ago. I asked what was in process. The founder said that he was waiting to hear back on when there would be coverage. Well, I got hold of the editor. He said that he got some data sheet, looked at it and tossed it. There wasn’t any contact, no discussion about why this startup would change the EDA game. There wasn’t a story; there wasn’t a reason to understand why this startup could ever be a vendor worthy of serious consideration.
Sean: So the story is the shorthand that a reader will tell a non-reader about the company, it’s the short vital viral narrative / capsule description. It’s the positioning.
Ed: Definitely based on market positioning.
Sean: I just read a “The Difference Between PR and Publicity” by Seth Godin, which contains this paragraph:
“Publicity is the act of getting ink. Publicity is getting unpaid media to pay attention, write you up, point to you, run a picture, make a commotion. Sometimes publicity is helpful, and good publicity is always good for your ego. But it’s not PR. PR is the strategic crafting of your story. It’s the focused examination of your interactions and tactics and products and pricing that, when combined, determine what and how people talk about you.”
I think he is making the same point you were making earlier: it’s about a coherent narrative, not just coverage.
Ed: Touche! Except that he says it better than I do.