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Ed Lee
Ed Lee
Ed Lee has been around EDA since before it was called EDA. He cut his teeth doing Public Relations with Valid, Cadence, Mentor, ECAD, VLSI, AMI and a host of others. And he has introduced more than three dozen EDA startups, ranging from the first commercial IP company to the latest statistical … More »

EDA Sizzle

March 1st, 2010 by Ed Lee

img_2419Steve Leibson in Leibson’s Law did a comprehensive and insightful job of covering the Hogan/McLellan entrepreneurial workshop in his blog on Wednesday.  Thank you, Steve!  And thank you, Jim and Paul, for enlightening us on how to start up an EDA company.

Jim and Paul made some very hard-hitting points in this valuable how-to workshop (at DVCon Tuesday night), one of which was emphasized by Leibson: “Sizzle is the highest leverage marketing point” said Hogan.

Afterward, a couple of attendees shared with us that “there is no sizzle in EDA!”  And “as we all know, many engineering driven startups (even some engineering driven mature companies) undervalue or don’t understand the importance of sizzle – a big mistake.”

What is sizzle? How do you define it?

Is there sizzle in EDA? Why or why not? Who has it, if there is sizzle in EDA?

Let us know what you think……

~Liz Massingill

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8 Responses to “EDA Sizzle”

  1. There’s sizzle in every product or service. It’s marketing’s job to find it. A very old joke about HP marketing was that engineers at HP would market sushi as “cold, dead fish.” Marketing’s a real profession just like engineering. The difference is that everyone thinks they’re a marketer, which they’re not. The biggest mistake is thinking that every customer and prospect is “just like you.” They’re not. For one thing, they usually don’t know nearly as much about your company or product as you think they do. You spend all your time thinking about what you offer. Surprise, the rest of the world doesn’t. Many marketing mistakes step from this basic misunderstanding. In other words, sizzle is not just the sound you get when you grill a piece of cold, dead cow flesh.

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    The “sizzle” comment sounds like it came from a PR or marketing consultant (and I say that as a member of the tribe). I haven’t ever heard a prospect for an EDA tool who was an engineer or engineering manager/director/VP ask:

    “Does your tool have sizzle? That’s one of our checklist items.”
    “Do you have patents on your tool?”
    “Is this tool based on PhD level work?”

    Most EDA tools that were later popular (e.g. Design Compiler, Tegas, Verilog, Chronologic, Chrysalis,…) were initially not credible or viewed as a waste of time.
    Design Compiler only got traction when it was positioned as “Gates to Gates.” Tegas and Verilog were each viewed as inferior to Spice for accuracy. Chronologic had severe limitations (e.g. no PLI), and Chrysalis could find a discrepancy but you couldn’t understand what it was telling you.

    Nothing new ever works and trying to use “sizzle” with a new tool instead of focusing on real customer problems with a promise of real results in a given time frame is probably a recipe for spending a lot of money on marketing/PR consultants.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hogan’s presentation (online here said ‘sizzle’ is a new, must-have product category. So those thoughts are on-target about the marketplace demanding solutions for technical problems or ways to optimize operation. In his view, a lot of success is also timing — and willingness to wait during the early ramping-up phase, conserving expenses and forgoing a paycheck if necessary. Seems one take-away from the presentation is that it is nice to imagine there are some bright spots in the industry given the current economic climate.

    Meanwhile, you can have the greatest tool proof-of-concept around but bringing it to market does involve getting the word out in a way that captures attention and generates some excitement. I like the saying that 90 percent of advertising may be unnecessary but no one knows which 90 percent — or, that good PR is like your refrigerator — you only value it when it stops working.

    With different ways to reach prospective customers, maybe video is one way to convey benefits of a particular product (i.e., “sizzle”). Medical device companies seem to be using it now, online.

  4. Sean Murphy says:

    @Nancy, I think you may be misinterpreting the slides. Hogan steak/sizzle metaphor is from Elmer Wheeler’s Depression era sales injunction: “It is the sizzle that sells the steak and not the cow, although the cow is, of course, mighty important”. This is more applicable to consumer sales than the orchestrated or complex business to business sale that EDA sales folks must navigate. Most B2B sales models focus on a clear identification of customer pain.

    My reading of the slides (I did not attend the presentation) is that Hogan is saying that you have to execute (steak) and prospective customers and acquirers have to learn about you (sizzle). He is not proposing “sizzle” as a new product category.

    Given the collapse of EDA journalism and 90% of the EDA blogosphere (there are perhaps 20 bloggers posting once a month down from more than 200 a year ago) in the last year it would seem the most likely way to get the word out will be remarkable results at a customer site that encourage them to tell their peers at other companies. In that sense good execution will bring word of mouth and awareness.

    Unless EDA PR professionals can start breeding journalists and bloggers in captivity it may be time to admit that a model that served the industry well for decades is now effectively defunct with the collapse of print media and most on-line sites devoted to EDA. What takes their place in the interim may be true word of mouth which requires that the product is actually remarkable, not just positioned and promoted as remarkable.

  5. Ed Lee Ed says:

    From venture Loop’s LinkedIn group:


    Patrick Kearns
    Patrick Kearns

    Director Marketing & Product Management, Founder Group 方正奥德 and Founder, Niyi Corp

    See all Patrick’s activity »

    Stop following Follow Patrick
    I found the link to Jim Hogan’s stages of investment presention. It helps to clarify some issues for me.

    Seed Round / Concept – Angel or VC investor
    * Proof of concept focus
    * 1 or 2 customers engaged
    * Less than $1M investment

    Round A “Validation” – VC
    * Early bookings or revenues with 1 to 3 customers
    * Ability to demonstrate the business can scale

    Round B “Productization / Proliferation”
    * Has product that can be sold
    * Beta customers using product
    * Breakeven financials

    Round C “Scalability”
    * Using finance to expand and scale the business.

    However, given the economy we are in these days, I know that the funding availability in the Seed / Concept and Round A is low.

  6. Gary Dare says:

    To follow up on the last comment by Ed … Angel and VC investment has nearly disappeared for fabless semi and EDA start-ups, in the last couple of years. The only activity that I have seen in the past year has been a) Magillem’s IPO in late November 2009, but they are an existing firm (5-7 years old if you include their first life as Prosilog) and b) Arteris receiving a round of strategic corporate investment from customers (with the exception of Cadence).

    Very broadly speaking … With innovation in EDA coming mostly from start-ups, whatever R&D budgets in the Big 3 or 4 likely frozen, and the credit crunch preventing acquisitions (the recent Synopsys virtual platform buys seem like pent-up demand with much cash on hand) … something’s got to give. I am starting to wonder if strategic investment might be the future mode for EDA start-ups, investment by customers rather than selling licenses, eventually leading to an IPO or a Big 3 acquisition?

  7. Liz says:

    This is it! Simon Sinek and Harry the ASIC Guy really get it. Harry’s recent blog really captures what “sizzle” is all about. He suggests that EDA companies might want to consider talking more about “why” their companies exist than about “what” their companies do and “how” they do it better. For more information see:

    Can an EDA company have a “story”—one that inspires? Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think it can. It’s all about vision and PASSION and a strong belief in what one is doing.

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