The Breker Trekker
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson is vice president of Marketing for Breker Verification Systems. He previously served as Product Management Group Director for Advanced Verification Solutions at Cadence, Technical Marketing Director in the Verification Group at Synopsys and Vice President of Applications Engineering at … More »
Some Fond Memories of EDA Analyst Gary Smith
July 7th, 2015 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
This week began on a very bad note in the EDA world: news of the death of longtime industry analyst Gary Smith. In an industry that has been largely ignored by Wall Street and big market analysis firms in recent years, Gary has played a critical role in continuing to carry the torch for EDA and providing both hard data and thoughtful commentary on business-related and technological topics. It is difficult to imagine our world without him.
Beyond his contributions to the industry, Gary was loved and admired by many of his fellow EDA and semiconductor professionals. I’m writing this post in the first person since the memories herein are mostly mine, but I know that I speak for my colleagues at Breker when I say that we always enjoyed meeting with Gary and that we will miss both his humor and his wisdom. We hope that we can all provide a measure of support to help his family get through this terrible time.
I’m not sure exactly when I first met Gary, but I think it was in the 1991-1992 timeframe. I was managing EDA and ASIC vendor relationships for Kubota Graphics Corporation when Gary was part of the tools and methodology team at LSI Logic. We were one of LSI’s most aggressive ASIC customers, constantly pushing the edge of their technology. In the process, we proved quite proficient at breaking both their internal tools and their support for third-party EDA vendors.
Gary really dug in and understood our challenges, providing excellent sales support while serving as our advocate within LSI. In 1994, I received a call from him asking whether I would be willing to be a reference for a position as an industry analyst at Dataquest. I agreed, and I remember being very positive about his industry knowledge and his dedication to his customers when I gave that reference. I’m proud of whatever small role I played in helping him get the job.
The rest, as they say, is history. Gary did outstanding work building the EDA team within Dataquest and achieving the impressive title of Managing Vice President. In 2006, when Dataquest decided that they would no longer track the industry, Gary didn’t miss a beat as he established Gary Smith EDA as an independent consulting and analysis company. Once again, he built a solid team and became the industry’s go-to expert on just about everything.
When people speak about Gary, they’re quick to mention that he was one heck of a nice guy. He had a great sense of humor, a sparkle in his eye, and an ability to make anyone feel like an instant friend and confidante. But the fact that he was nice and unassuming masked a strong will and a sense of purpose. Peggy Aycinena wrote a perceptive article on Gary’s life that contains several good examples of what I mean.
For a start, he was in the Navy, serving multiple stints on a destroyer off the coast of Vietnam. In civilian life, he made a series of bold career moves typical of an ambitious young engineer, ending up at LSI Logic. I was impressed by the significant career change represented by his move to Dataquest, and how well he pulled it off. I was even more impressed when he reinvented himself as his own brand with Gary Smith EDA. He didn’t let personal or professional setbacks affect him for long.
Last but not least, Gary could be stubborn in his opinions. His annual declarations that “this will be the year of ESL” became a source of ribbing after a few years, and while Gary shared in the humor he stuck by his predictions. Indeed he was a nice guy, but he brought an intensity and consistency of purpose to his work. I know that I am representing thousands of my industry colleagues in saying that we will miss him dearly.
The truth is out there … sometimes it’s in a blog.
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