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Archive for December, 2009

Harry the ASIC Guy on what blogging about EDA has done for him

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.)

Dan Nenni on Bloggng in EDA (part 2)

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 –

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