IS EDA HISTORY??? IS IT DOOMED?????
At least from what I heard …Most of the experts on the panel quantifiably said, "ABSOLUTELY NOT"!
This month's column is extremely important, as it lets many readers know how industry insiders judge the viability and the future of EDA, and that directly equates to the prospect of maintaining a future in EDA, and jobs as a whole as well. This column is written from a non-technical perspective. The summary of opinions portrayed here, were expressed through the many people I talked to; people that have deeply entrenched their lives in this industry. And while one could argue that we all have vested interests to maintain a positive perspective, it can also be said that speaking the truth from the heart, says what we all want or more NEED to hear.
As our President has said, and more what I felt after listening and talking to many that know; it is time to keep hope alive, and be positive in a time when positive words are not often heard. I also say that while knowing the negative, thinking positive will almost always get you much further.
So before I get started, let me tell you that once again I find myself writing from a location that is becoming way to familiar - CHILI's in LAX. I find it cathartic while waiting 3 hours for my flight, to eat and write, and mull over my trip. Why? I have no clue, but you get to benefit because my trip is so fresh in my mind. Now back to DVCON, and then on to my talks with a lot of the experts.
DVCON was robust with activity, and might I say cautious optimism. And while few were satisfied with the current climate, most felt things were still moving forward, and the pulse was "slowly" picking up, even though the news was not. The conference keynote speaker was Aart de Geus (Officially known as the HEAD HONCHO of Synopsys) who gave an absolutely brilliant speech about things that were as foreign to me as Mayan culture. (In case you did not know, he is as funny as he is brilliant). But what did get my attention were words I have heard before, and coming from him resonated even further. Aart basically said …Supply and demand will soon come into play, and when that paradigm changes, companies will need to be ready to take advantage of it. He pointed out that companies are trying to do more with less, putting a burden on those left to fill the void. That too will need to change. He also quite correctly pointed out that Science is back in the White House, and that is a good thing for our future.
I stayed for Peggy's Panel "IS EDA DEAD OR ALIVE". Peggy ran the panel like a college professor I chose to forget long ago, cracking the whip and keeping everyone sharp and on point. She paced down the middle isle of the audience asking the panel her very direct questions, waiting to hit someone with her whip that looked the wrong way. She was pretty intense and amazing, and made the time quite interesting and informative.
The panel was made up of some of the most technical, knowledgeable and informative officers of our industry. I on the other hand, am not technical. I am a recruiter that understands the special needs of this industry, but can use common sense to discern most of what was said, and briefly report on the overall opinions stated.
Everyone on the panel was interesting and most of the session seemed at least to me, to be quite positive toward EDA. Everyone had very strong arguments why EDA will thrive for many years to come. Ajoy Bose, Chair and President of Atrenta pointed out that EDA is paramount for the semiconductor business, and as long as they are alive, so will EDA, and semiconductors will thrive for a long time to come. Tom Sandoval, CEO of Calypto Design Systems and Diana Raggett, President Javelin Design Automation, and Rave Subramanian, CEO Berkeley Design Automation were all overall positive, except each said in their own way that change is eminent, and the road ahead will probably be quite different than the road just traveled.
One of the panelists, Synopsys's very bright Gary Myers, (former President and CEO of Synplicity, current VP/GM, Synplicity Business Group) a man I am proud to call friend, rightfully said: "there is so obviously MORE electronics in our future, "NOT LESS", and that is why EDA is and will be alive". Gary's easy to understand words almost said it all. Springsoft's Scott Sandler (President, SpringSoft USA, Inc. & Vice President Corporate Marketing, former CEO & President of Novas (a mouthful), jokingly but poignantly said: "the world is eating computer chips faster than potato chips" though not sure if that helps dip sales, but it does say there is an ongoing robust demand, since I think we eat a heck of a lot of potato chips.
Earlier, privately Scott and I discussed the R&D side of start-ups, and he said the good ideas Start-ups had before the whole mess with the economy happened, are theoretically still good ideas. He did have a "but" however saying…BUT the idea born say 6 months ago, needs to be continually worked and modified as change occurs in this industry at light speed. Scott further said that necessary innovation of development must continue for a company to be successful. Companies need to forge ahead keeping their innovations fresh and at the forefront, so that when things open up, they will be ready to take their product to market. That single statement speaks to the point I am about to make, and validates why companies are still hiring for R&D, regardless of the current climate.
Lauro Rizzati, the always very friendly GM of EVE-USA, (and VP Marketing), played the role of the contrarian on the panel, giving a somewhat different take on the state of EDA than the others. He told me privately "EDA is NOT DEAD, but sick it is, and changes are eminent in order to sustain". Lauro went on to tell me that in 2009 EVE will make major investments in R&D and plans to expand their engineering team significantly…which makes the point I was making SPOT ON! Discussing further the future of EDA, Lauro went on to say that this crisis might be an opportunity for a bit of house cleaning and rationalization. But again, they will be hiring in R&D!
After lengthy conversations with so many of the Principles of EDA, I remain "pessimistically optimistic" about our future. Short term everyone agrees will be difficult, past that everyone is on a wait and see; it is anybody's guess. R&D hiring will continue in the months ahead, Remember just because there is a change in the economic climate, it does not mean that a good idea is no longer valid. Development must continue! It might take longer to SELL a good idea, (which mean sales and AE positions will be fewer short term, but robust long term), but it the conception is nonetheless still a valid concept. Any company that believes in what they are doing, will continue to work hard, and hire whom they need, to bring their product to fruition.
As my pal Michiel Ligthart COO of Verific Design Automation said…there is a huge pool of candidates, and that he gets a lot of resumes everyday. He went on to tell me that he does not seemingly need the services of a recruiter. As I took a bit of umbrage to his statement, I vehemently reminded him that the resumes we send are usually some of the cream of the crop, and always on point. I went on to REMIND him that the candidates we send in deserve special attention, and never waste his time, and that if he really wants someone good, he needs to at least look at our submissions. Michiel being the always-gracious gentlemen that his is yielded and said POINT MADE, the resumes you send are (almost) always spot -on!
My friends, most agree, EDA will continue, and hopefully for a long time to come. Those of us that persevere through these difficult times, and work hard to maintain (and that includes recruiters like me) will be around when this passes, The changes and clean up of our industry should be well underway, and we will then enjoy our desired successes, in this wonderful EDA community.