Among the least likely events to take place at a conference as big and noisy as the Design Automation Conference is an intense, unplugged conversation with an industry leader, especially in the midst of the Exhibit Hall. Nonetheless, I had a chance to sit and talk with eSilicon co-founder and CEO Jack Harding for almost an hour in his company booth on Monday morning, June 2nd, at DAC in San Francisco.
In the background, outside the flimsy walls of the suite in which we were talking, one could hear the roar of the opening-hour crowd in the exhibit hall, mixed with the unmistakable sounds of Gary Smith revving up nearby for his annual Pavilion Panel in that blues band style he favors.
Prior to June 2nd, I hadn’t seen Jack Harding for 7 years. At that time, thanks to Brian Fuller’s eavesdropping on a private conversation, my disagreement with Jack about how tech leaders get their kids to study technology ended up in Brian’s blog for all the world to read. If Jack knew, he probably didn’t care – he’s always lived by his own rules – whereas I followed rules written by others, so I did care and hence approached this month’s appointment at DAC with marked trepidation. How unnecessary.
Harding never mentioned our disagreement in 2007. Instead I found him a great conversationalist, honest, self-effacing in a particular way, and interested in a wide range of issues. Naturally, I don’t regret Brian Fuller wasn’t hovering nearby to report out on the conversation, but I do regret Jack and I didn’t have an additional hour to chat in San Francisco. He began by reminding me that success in the tech sector can depend on a host of “exogenous variables.”