DAC was busy, and the right customers (for the most part) were there….
It seems I write my best columns at airport restaurants, (usually Chili's LAX, but my flight was delayed 2 hours, so this time I write in the Mission Restaurant, SFO), on my long way home from DAC.
So here I am again thinking about the 3+ days I spent of open to close DAC, and might I say what a busy 3 days it was. (I promise I will get to the jobs part, but just like the recovery, that will come just a little later).
Aside from the incredible amount of actual appointments, and countless meetings, some of my best talks came from the folks I ran into as I endlessly walked the isles, and I mean walked isle to isle, hall to hall. These were generally the many folks I have come to know through the years, at previous DAC's, and most of these informal talks turned out to be some of my best insights into the industry.
My days were jammed with appointment after appointment, in total 53. I met almost exclusively with the CEO's or VP's of these companies and the themes were constant. (I almost felt like Bob Gold). I heard the same thing from most; a real sense of optimism that things were really picking up. The phones are ringing, customer visits are happening, and while no one was yelling how great things were, they saw brighter days just ahead, and business is feeling much better. Unfortunately this did not equate to a new rash of hiring; I cannot tell you that I walked away with a lot of new job reqs. In fact, I left this DAC with 60% less new reqs than I normally do. But what I did get was a wealth of thoughts about how most in the EDA community perceive the EDA recovery, and their best guess about the turnaround. The other thing we talked about was DAC, and the role it plays, and how this DAC was perceived. So here is the consensus from most of the folks I talked to.
Customers were not actually "pulling the trigger", but they were talking, getting ready, and expecting budgets to open real soon. Once this happens and things start to roll, jobs will most certainly follow.
(On a side note)… First, the biggest question at DAC…"Are you going to the Denali party"? I want to publicly thank Sanjay and the folks at Denali for throwing such a fun event every year. It is always one of the great highlights of DAC, I want to quickly give them PROPPS for their commitment to the industry, as it has become a DAC event that so many look forward to, every year. I know I am getting sidetracked, but in my very nice conversation with Aart De Gues (yes I am throwing that name out there to try and impress you) I found that he did not go to the party because he has too much to do. His days are just too jammed pack, which I say, lighten up Aart, have some fun, a little partying will do you good!. (Just playing with you Aart, please don't get upset PLEASE)! Maybe that is why the guy has so much more money than me?!?!?.
Back to what matters…I heard over and over from almost everyone I talked to that overall, this was a successful DAC. For me, this was without a doubt, one of the most interesting DACs I have ever attended. It started with my now (what will be my future) signature WHITE sport coat that I was forced to wear, because of a wardrobe malfunction. Rather than packing my new suit, I grabbed my TUX, and did not realize it until 10pm Sunday night, the night before the show opened. All I had were black jeans, and a casual white sport coat, so that was what I wore to DAC. It actually worked out great as everyone liked the white, and I think that it will now be my mainstay look at all future DACS. OK back to the matter at hand…(I am so ADD)…As usual comments and concerns about attendance were a constant discussion, though I kept saying, "I think attendance is up". Low and behold, the attendance numbers are out for DAC, and the attendance report shows, I was absolutely right. Preliminary DAC attendance was up this year by 12%. How about that!
So many forget that much of the previous DAC attendance was from the BIG BOYS who brought the whole ship to the show. Think for a minute, if we go back say 3-5 DACS or more; ask yourself how many Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor Magma folks were there. Just them alone made the isles impenetrable. Add the second tier companies, many that are now gone, and all the folks they brought, and wow, you can see the perception of how the busy isles "use to be". Many DAC attendees use to travel with a small entourage, where as now, they send a more skeleton crew. So right there you have just a few reasons, why one might say DAC was down, but reality is, DAC was actually up nicely.
Here is another thing to consider. DAC is not like, say the "house-wares show". The "number" of people attending the "house-wares or consumer based shows" matter. DAC is not a per-se VOLUME show. The customers that matter (for the most part) were there. I talked to a lot of principles, and a lot of companies this DAC, and that my friends, was the consensus from most of them. They got to see the companies and people they wanted to see. The incredible opportunity to network, was just a fantastic bonus.
So in conclusion, I have to say that the overriding consensus was that the rockets seem to have been switched on, they are starting to rumble, but the fuel has not been released into the tanks. EDA in general is still strong, business is getting warmer and warmer, and hopefully sales will pick up at a clip that forces considerable new hiring. Most experts predict hiring to start Q1Q2. I am more optimistic. After my many talks, I think we will start seeing some real hiring's mid q4, with some very specific req. now. In the past I have said the types of positions that I think should/will open. I now suspect that the openings will be across the board, as companies scramble to ramp up and take the enormous pressure off the few that made it through the cuts, and get ready for what is hopefully coming real soon. Thanks to all the companies that spent time giving me their time and thoughts, and heads up to all of you looking. Clearly all indicators show the worst is behind us, and from my talks, brighter days are just ahead.