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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.

Election Effect: EDA’s Chapter and Verse to be in Cross-hairs

November 10th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

The American people have spoken
and the electoral college will finalize the results shortly. The new President-elect is someone who has ridden into office on a tidal wave of enthusiasm for his professed commitments to a reduction in globalization, more tightly controlled borders, bringing off-shored jobs back home to citizens who deserve to have them, and a carefully articulated affection for nativism.

EDA is in trouble on all counts.

First of all, the EDA industry, and its associated fortunes, have been built on a powerful foundation of globalization; prominent members of the industry have quite literally lobbied long and hard to be sure that stays the case.

Mentor CEO Dr. Walden C. Rhines has, in fact, been honored multiple times by the industry’s consortium for his extraordinary leadership in helping to guarantee that EDA software is not unduly constrained by export restrictions, licensing inhibitions, or government nay-sayers.

EDA tools are sold across the globe – designs everywhere, and at all times, depend upon a singular set of CAD programs that emanate from an industry centered on the West Coast of the United States. Globalization is the underpinning of the success of the EDA industry, while a major part of the appeal of the new President-elect is his commitment to undermining that underpinning.

Second of all, there are a lot of people who work in the EDA industry in the U.S. who do so under the auspices of their H-1B visas. This has got to change, per the new President-elect. These visas have been allowed to run amuck, he and his supporters say, and hence too many foreigners/non-citizens are taking jobs that morally belong to the native-born. This has got to change immediately for the new President-elect to make good on this particular campaign promise.

Third of all, if you look at Cadence’s 6,700 employees, how many of them actually work on American soil? The development teams – hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of the coders who write the tools – do not work in the U.S. They work in foreign countries, most notably India. The new President-elect wants those jobs brought back to his native soil – asap. This will make America great again, he says.

And Synopsys’ 10,000 employees? Heck, they’ve got so many foreign employees, the company has a Global Citizenship initiative to encourage “employees from around the world” to volunteer in their local charity events. And those localities include everywhere from Hong Kong to Hyderabad, from Brussels to Shanghai, from Ontario to Santiago, from Yerevan, Armenia, to Espoo, Finland, Sophia Antipolas in France to Budapest, Hungary, and Herzelia, Israel.

But this type of global employee base is neither patriotic nor good for the financial well-being of the U.S., per the new President-elect. His campaign promises say these jobs need to be brought back to American soil – asap.

And Mentor Graphics’ 5200 employees? They too work in dozens of places around the world, not the least problematic from the viewpoint of the new President-elect being Lahore, Pakistan, and Cairo, Egypt. The new President-elect will certainly want to know these folks in particular have been tested for extremist views. But no matter, because all Mentor employees everywhere around the world need to surrender their work back to American citizens here in North America, the new President-elect and his supporters are going to insist.

Yet, even if the EDA industry can clean up its act and attend to these problem areas – a professed adherence to globalization, too many H-1B visas, and the persistent off-shoring of jobs – there is one final, troubling issue which is obvious to anyone who tracks the industry: Three of the Four CEOs of Synopsys, Mentor, and Cadence are foreign-born themselves and speak with very audible accents.

Can we as a nation, the new President-elect is going to ask, really trust that these people are reliable gatekeepers of America’s technical crown jewels? The CAD tools Where Electronics Begin, that are absolutely foundational to the semiconductor industry – the very industry that drives Silicon Valley, Peter Thiel, Twitter and Facebook?

Accents should not be allowed, many of the new President-elect supporters believe, except in the case of fashion models who have no access to the important technical assets at the center of our national security.

This last being particularly troubling when you look at how Synopsys is attempting to re-position itself as a security behemoth. Really? With one of their co-CEOs being born in Asia and the other one in Europe? Sad.

And there you have it: EDA’s very existence will be called into question soon. Just as soon as the new President-elect and his supporters take office. Or as soon as they can figure out what an algorithm is, or the meaning of optimization, synthesis, place-and-route, and simulation.

And maybe add BIST, DFM, STA, PDK, UVM, UPF, SPICE, HDL, ESL, and QED to that list.


5 Responses to “Election Effect: EDA’s Chapter and Verse to be in Cross-hairs”

  1. Bob Smith says:

    I will respectfully disagree. EDA is not going away. There is just no way that the $350B semiconductor industry or the $2T electronic product industry can live without EDA and the design ecosystem that are critical to both of these markets. You are right about all of the posturing during the election process, but in the end, business will take the upper hand. If the president-elect comes through with the promise to lower the corporate tax rate, that will spur more R&D investment and ultimately that will lead to more EDA, IP, etc. etc. being needed.

  2. Rehan Iqbal says:

    I also disagree. The idea that Trump can wave a wand and mandate all these jobs return to the US is completely unrealistic. Congress will hamstring him on it and businesses will scream bloody murder. We’re already seeing him turn around from things he said on the campaign trail.

    The fundamental reason of why EDA companies need to draw from these countries is because there is not enough technical skill in the US alone to satiate the demands of EDA. There are not enough skilled people in any one country alone to fulfill these demands. It takes huge amounts of highly technical people just to keep pace, let alone make progress. He’ll run into that reality sooner or later.

    As far as increasing the number of skilled jobs in this country – if he’s so opposed immigration, he’ll have to focus on natively developing talent to replace it. That means better & cheaper education, particularly in the technical fields. So he can go ahead and cover every engineering degree in the country. If you want homegrown US talent, then pony up and pay for it. Otherwise, companies will continue to draw from the global pool. The problem of labor shortage is not going to disappear.

  3. Dave Smith says:

    Sorry the person you voted for lost the election.
    Sounds like sour grapes.

  4. Bob Smith says:

    To clarify, my comments about posturing referred to both Clinton and Trump.

  5. John Smith says:

    Just stop holding H1b-Visa holders to single employers. Allow the holders to jump ship to other employers if they find better competitive pay. This would give employers less incentive to abuse the H1Bs program by the numbers, by discouraging them paying H1B holders peanuts compared to other US citizens/permanent residents.

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