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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Dumb & Dumber: Why having a Press Corps is both stupid & smart

March 27th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Companies like to be covered by The Press when The Press has something nice to say about them. When The Press doesn’t have nice things to say about them, companies don’t like The Press anymore and they close up inside themselves like a sea anemone at low tide on a sunny day. That’s why the whole concept of having a Press Corps in an industry is dumb.

Nonetheless, The Press continues to exist pretty much everywhere and that’s where the dumb thing gets even dumber. People who work in The Press think of themselves as important. I kid you not. They think the things they say, the pearls of wisdom they embed in endless streams of blogs, articles, and even tweets, somehow impact decision making inside of the companies The Press are blogging, opining, and tweeting about. But that’s not really true. It’s just plain dumb that The Press think that what they say actually matters.

So what does matter? What really does make a difference inside of a company? What really impacts the decision making and/or decision makers inside a company? It’s simple: The customers.

That’s it. In toto. It’s the customers.

And that’s why a conference like SNUG is important to a company like Synopsys. Over 3000 people registered to attend Synopsys Users Group 2013 this week in Silicon Valley, according to the Synospys folks who run the conference. Over 2000 of them were Synopsys customers, according to the Synopsys folks who sell to, and support, those customers.

In other words, through avenues like SNUG and countless sales & support calls to hundreds of customer design sites around the world, Synopsys listens to the voices of those whose opinions really count. The voices of the customers. Not the voices of The Press.

So, given that’s the reality, why does Synopsys make any attempts at all to make nice with The Press?

Well, it can’t hurt. It can’t hurt to make the handful of folks who constitute The Press feel that they have access to Thought Leaders within the company. It can’t hurt to welcome The Press to SNUG, to facilitate their scheduling, to feed them, and give them direct access to senior leadership – particularly when that leadership comes in the form of the company’s articulate and ever-engaging co.CEO Aart de Geus.

Aart de Geus is a remarkable man. On Monday morning this week, he stepped up to the podium in front of many hundreds of people in the Mission Ballroom at the Santa Clara Convention Center and delivered a 90-minute keynote speech, complete with humorous asides, lots of PowerPoint slides, countless images of bridges, and a bundle of good news about Synopsys’ efforts to develop tools, flows, IP, and good will for the customers sitting in front of him. After 90 minutes of public speaking, however, de Geus was not done.

Because straightaway afterwards, he then sat down in Room 212 upstairs at the convention center and did another 90 minutes of public outreach. Only this time, it was for an audience of 8, not 800 – the 8 people from The Press who were invited to attend Synopsys’ Roundtable Discussion [actually, the table was square] with Aart de Geus. And what did we talk about? You name it, it was on the table:

EDA. IP. Semiconductors. Tools. Power. Performance. Optimization. Methodologies. Correct-by-construction. Levels of Abstraction. Cleaning out the Flow. Memory. Sensors. GPUs. 3D chips. FinFETS. Outsourcing. Crowd-sourcing. IP Reuse. Embedded IP. Foundry IP. Synopsys IP. ARM IP. Organ Transplants. Post-operative care. DNA. Yield. 14 nm. 20nm. Lithography. Patterning. Photonics. Public Clouds. Security. Private Clouds. Software guys. Hardware guys. SystemVerilog. DVCon. Intel. TSMC. GlobalFoundries. MIPS. Imagination. Cadence. Tensilica. Samsung. Apple. Google. Broadcom. SpringSoft. Magma. China. Greece. Cypress. Pressure. Opportunities. End markets. Differentiation. Co-opetition. Collaboration. Customers as partners. IDMs. Pirated software. Hierarchy of Things. Internet of Things. Great Architects vs. Great Designers. Bricks. Features vs. Bugs. De-bug. Good English vs. Bad Teachers. Evolution vs. Revolution. Systemic Solutions vs. Point Solutions. Volume vs. Price. IBM’s Watson. Bridges. Racing Forward. Looking back. Toulouse. A380. Technology vs. Economics. Technomics. Google Glasses. Picasso.

If you’re still reading, you can probably guess pretty accurately what de Geus’ responses were on all of these topics. After all, Synopsys is a publicly-traded company and the responses of the CEO need to stay on-message and on-point. If you’ve ever seen Audrey Hepburn’s Press Conference in Roman Holiday, you would understand.

Nonetheless, de Geus’ meeting with The Press was not scripted in advance. He was answering questions off-the-cuff and on-the-spot with nary a moment’s hesitation. And all of that, just after delivering the anchor keynote at SNUG Silicon Valley 2013. It was a tour-de-force performance, and part of an ongoing campaign of many years on the part of Synopsys to make de Geus accessible and the company successful. And not surprisingly, it works.

The Press feels important. The company looks and sounds confident. The coffee’s hot. Blogs like this are written. The customers feel there’s an actual human being at the top of the Tool-supplier Food Chain. Everybody’s happy.

There’s nothing dumb or dumber about it. Absolutely nothing.


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