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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 »

What is the EDA Editorial Brain Trust Today?

August 25th, 2014 by Ed Lee

The EDA editorial brain trust today is the topic of our continuing conversation with Richard Goering and Brian Fuller.  

Brian Fuller

Brian Fuller

Richard Goering

Richard Goering

ED:  What is the EDA editorial brain trust these days?

RICHARD: Not sure how you’re defining “brain trust,” but if there is one, it’s with the vendors and the independent on-line publications.

ED:  Who makes up the EDA editorial brain trust?

RICHARD:  If you add it all up, there are still a number of editors with deep EDA and semiconductor experience – they’re just no longer with print publications.

Additionally, there are now a number of writers and bloggers who didn’t start as journalists but who turned in that direction during the transition away from print.

LIZ:  Such as?

RICHARD: Dan Nenni, who started Semiwiki, and most of the people who currently blog at that site including Paul McLellan. The list also includes Brian Bailey, who writes for SemiconductorEngineering. These people are part of the EDA editorial “brain trust” as well, along with marketers, engineers and product managers who blog for EDA vendors.

ED:   But far far fewer individuals who still write for publications, right?

RICHARD:   Yes, because there are fewer publications. Fewer print publications, anyway – there are a number of web sites that follow EDA and semiconductors.

ED:   So which EDA editorial member type steers the brain trust these days?

BRIAN:   I’m not sure there’s any one type of editorial member at the helm right now. Back in the day, it was pretty much Richard who was the de facto dean of the brain trust. Some people chafed at that, but he was the fairest, most objective reporter in the space. Bar none. Everyone got a fair shake. Today, the editorial brain trust, as Richard has said, is everywhere. Individual editors are helming their own ships and everyone’s moving forward.

ED:  How so?

BRIAN:  Think about where everyone is. You have those traditional editors who have moved into corporate environments who are producing engaging, insightful content. These are people like Richard Goering, Mike Santarini, Paul Rako, Ron Wilson… the list goes on.

Then you have technically insightful voices that have emerged in recent years through the third-party publishers (Peggy Aycinena is not new but has emerged as a strong voice since blogging took hold), as well as the longtime editors who are working under a new shingle (and “tweeners” like John Day in automotive, writing for Mentor Graphics as part of his larger brief).

And the one constant, undeniable presence is John Cooley. Love him or not, John’s in a class by himself when it comes to EDA. To paraphrase the old line about the Grateful Dead, he’s not just the best at what he does, he’s the ONLY one who does what he does. But here I don’t think you could consider John the guy who steers the brain trust—to your earlier question, Ed. John does his thing and he does it well.

ED:   So, on Cooley, what does he do and why is he so important…and significant?

BRIAN:  John has a big, engaged, loyal audience and it’s the right audience for EDA vendors. John’s all about scoops, and this is increasingly important because no one else is doing this. This may rub some editors the wrong way, but he’s the last scoopmeister standing.

Back in the day, you had not only John, but you had Richard, Santarini, me, guys from Electronics News and sometimes Electronic Business hustling for scoops.  You had guys like [Ron] Wilson who would sometimes reframe entire design-methodology arguments in a single essay.

Now, I’ll argue that John’s bread and butter is corporate personnel and organizational scoops and he’s on top of tools issues, thanks to his engaged audience. I wouldn’t say that he drives higher-level conversations about industry direction.

The other reason I think he’s significant is that he’s proving that we can monetize old-fashioned reporting; we just can’t do it on the organizational scale that we used to. 

LIZ:   Who else comprises this new brain trust?

BRIAN: Add a small regiment of relatively new corporate bloggers (think Frank Schirrmeister/Jerry Grzenia et al at Cadence; Michael Posner/Tom De Schutter et al at Synopsys; Colin Walls and his colleagues at Mentor Graphics). These are all domain experts and they like to write. I don’t know the numbers at the others, but at Cadence we have more than a dozen active bloggers (who blog more than once a month) from the product marketing and support groups.

So, the “brain trust” has exploded in the past 15 years because there are more channels for smart EDA people to exploit. With this comes a particular challenge: We, as an industry, don’t seem to coalesce on a small number of vital issues as much as we used to. All these voices write about many challenges and so if we’re looking for a direction for the EDA industry, it can be like trying to see the forest for the trees. I’m not sure that’s any worse or any better than it used to be.  It’s just different.

ED:  So as you’ve both noted, this brain trust is now “everywhere.”  But it’s not better or worse?

RICHARD:  As Brian said, it’s different. There are more voices than there were in the old print publication days, and there’s a lot of expertise (and some interesting personalities) behind those voices. But there’s less of what I would think of as classical journalism, where a reporter dives deeply into a topic, does some research, and gets viewpoints from all sides, I think there’s a place for both blogging and journalism.

ED:  So lots of columnists voicing opinions, but fewer reporters?

RICHARD:   You could put it that way, yes.

BRIAN:  That’s right. No reporters really. Richard and I and the rest aren’t really incentivized to do that. We bring the same skills and outlook to report and write stories about technologies of relevance to our companies and their customers. But we’re not independent in the way a publishing employee might be considered independent.


Next week Goering and Fuller talk about how readers aggregate information in today’s world.  

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2 Responses to “What is the EDA Editorial Brain Trust Today?”

  1. Brian Fuller says:

    Let me clarify something I said here (my bad): Our industry has many fine reporters, starting with old-school folks like Ed Sperling, Rick Merritt and Junko Yoshida (among others). I should have said to Ed Lee, “yes, we have fewer reporters” than say 10-15 years because that’s a fact. A lot of us old-school reporters work for companies and are incented to report in the classical way.
    Now, do we live and work in an era where publishers incent journalists to go out and report and break stories? That’s another question (and that was on my mind when Ed asked his question). As an industry we (ENews, EET, EBN especially) used to break stories about new products before the press releases popped and we used to report about product development problems. I remember vividly an EE Times story Marty Gold wrote about problems with one of Analog Devices’ DSPs. Unfortunately, we used the word “snafu” in the head headline (“situation normal, all effed up”). ADI’s CEO Jerry Fishman took umbrage with colorful language at that headline, but he did not dispute the facts of the scoop. EE Times lost a year’s worth of ADI advertising.
    Are we writing those stories today? Are we writing scoops?

  2. Dave Kelf says:

    Ed, I guess for me the burning question is the independence of the “brain trust” as you put it. It didn’t really come up in this last article, although I sense that Richard and Brian skirted around it a little. With the strong journalistic reporting of yesteryear, companies might have not always liked what was written about them but one did always feel that you received a fair shake, to use Brian’s words, from the core group of EDA journalists. These days there are still many who aspire in this direction, and I applaud them given the financing structure of many of the portals out there. It is hard though for a smaller company with limited resources which might have created some groundbreaking technology, to get the attention it deserves these days. This has a knock-on affect on progress I believe.

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