February 14, 2005
Interview with Todd Cutler, CEO Eagleware-Elanix
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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Beyond the ESOP, what else do you do to recruit and retain people, talent?

Retaining the right people is making sure that you hire the right people in the first place; people that sort of culturally fit. Retaining is making sure that they are in a role that they feel comfortable with and where they can make a contribution that stretches them some but not too much and creating an environment where people like each other and want to come to work. I think that liking each other has a lot to do with participating in decisions together, doing some things together both at work and maybe a little bit outside work. But ultimately I think it is to make sure people are in jobs that they really like doing. People change over time and their interests change. The key is
to make sure they have opportunity to pursue what they want to do.

Attracting the right people. The best way is finding them and letting them meet and talk with the people that are here and make sure it's a good fit for them. Recruiting is all about fit, fit for what we need from a contribution viewpoint, fit in what they have to offer and of course back to the cultural thing. Is this the type of place you want to show up everyday and are these the people you want to hang out with everyday is a key part. Recruiting is the single biggest challenge that I deal with. Making sure the management team deal with this and that we get a good pool of candidates and find the right ones. Once we find the right ones, selling them on what a great place this is to
work has been easy to do.

Geographically, how close are Eagleware and Elanix?

We are here in Atlanta and Elanix is in Westlake Village (northwest of Los Angles). We actually have the same phone system. One of the things we did was make a pretty significant investment in infrastructure. We've got VoIP phones, high bandwidth interconnection between the sites and so forth. For example, I was in Westlake last week, I hit the magic button on my key and the phone that normally rings on my desk in Atlanta was ringing at my desk in Westlake Village. You can send voice mail to people within the system. Our sales guy in Silicon Valley is on the same system. Same email system, servers, VPN … Infrastructurally there is not a whole lot of difference from being across
except that there is a three hour time difference which does factor into how we communicate internally but actually helps externally because we are able to provide better hours of coverage to our customers for the support they need.

Is there a division of labor between the two groups?

We're still sorting out our way through that but generally no. There are specific product knowledge and expertise, some in Atlanta and some in Westlake Village but we do have cross reporting. There is development activity that goes on in Westlake and development activity that goes on in Atlanta. There are also marketing and support operations in Westlake and marketing and support here. We did consolidate operational things such as shipping and back office sorts of things. Our intent is to keep both offices going.

In large part one of the reasons we were interested in Elanix was that it gave us a good recruiting base. There is a lot of talented people that live in southern California or somewhere in California that we fell we could attract and be interested in our business. Geography is a big deal when you are trying to get good people.

The sense I have is that Elanix is an umbrella, while Eagleware has more core technology.

Umbrella from a technology standpoint or maybe just upstream. More at the very beginning of design where people are making some architectural partitioning decisions as to how much of the stuff is to be in FPGAs and DSPs and how much in analog and RF hardware. From that standpoint, the technology that is offered to analyze at the highest architectural level is the place where we were looking for contribution and that's where we think Elinix
offers it to us.

At this level it is overall architecture. It also gives us a good path for the signal processing end of technology because to date our competition is focused on the RF end of things, the high frequency analog design. We see an awful lot of opportunity to do a better job of both doing signal processing and RF together. Concentrate on the process of going between those two. There are lots of tradeoffs made there and no one has cracked that just yet. We think we can.

Are designs coming together so that digital designers need to worry about analog and vice versa?

What happens if you are the digital or DSP guy, is that you draw out a block diagram and you have lots of blocks for each of the different parts of your design and you have one part that says RF, the blackbox where you send some signal and it comes out the other end. Where, if you turn to the RF end of the world, you have all kinds of mixers, muxs signals that are analog and then you have DSP which is one box on the other end. If you are doing the detail design in one technology area, you can be pretty successful by more or less treating the other area as a black box. But it is when you are architecting how each of these overall boxes and where the dividing line is, I think that's where
the tradeoffs are made and that's where you want to make those right the first time around. Although that's not to say you don't go back sometimes. We are not going to have RF at all. We are going to digitize the signal right off the antenna but to do that is going to take a megawatt of power, $10K of DSP processors, … Maybe we should make another decision. So there is some iteration going on back and forth. But I think its more up to the overall system level and back down to the detailed level rather than across. When you look across the technology, the other side can be largely treated as a black box from the detailed design standpoint.

Who do you see as competition?

If you look at this sort of merged space that has signal processing and RF architecture design, we are probably one of the few people trying to attack both of those and look at it in an overall way. The traditional competitor we had on the DSP side was of course MathLab. They are a big player in general mathematical analysis. They are reaching a little further into hardware at this point, sort of where Elanix has been. On the Eagleware side competition is probably Agilent ADS, although lately they have been emphasizing more on silicon IC design. This is not the area we are in. We are in the system and board level design rather than IC design.
They are probably the guys we compete with on a day-to-day basis.

We are trying to create new value instead of fighting over the same objective over and over. We are trying to find new ways to make a contribution to help people. So one of the recent system technology things we had in the RF space is architecture tool and its main competition was Excel. They had $100k in high end EDA software and use Excel spreadsheets to do these calculations.

On the marketing side, would you say that people who need your tool know how to find you or is it more of a missionary sale?

With any new technology and these are new technologies, I think you have to do missionary work. I have always been a believer in trying to understand what customers' problems are and give them what they need to solve those problems, which is usually not what they are asking for. They are asking for something which may address their problem but there are often better ways to solve their problems than what the customer knows because they do not put as much time and energy into it as we do to address it. So in the case of this RF architecture tool, its new enough - nobody likes using spreadsheets to get it done - but you still
have to explain to someone what it is and how it is different
for them to make the decision to buy it. But the thing we like about it, where it is not missionary is when you find people who buy one license of software and come back soon enough later to buy 2 or 3 more and the next thing you know, everyone is struggling to get their hands on the licenses. That is the type of thing that we are seeing with this RF architecture tool right now. At the next highest level to do this partitioning and where you may have the flexibility to get up and down, we are still hammering out the process where that's going to work.
There is interest in solving the problem but until we have the solution in hand and pulled together, it's going to be some missionary work.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.

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