May 02, 2011
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Russ Henke - Contributing Editor

by Russ Henke - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Mike Sottak was born in Worcester MA in 1965. He excelled both academically and athletically at St. Johns High School in Shrewsbury MA, graduating in 1983 with a National-Honor-Society-perfect 4.0 GPA and was captain of his school’s football and track teams.

Already interested in writing and public relations, Mike chose Boston University for its School of Journalism. Mike graduated from the four year program in 3 years with a stellar 3.6 GPA. He realized early on that “there’s nothing like ‘old school’ journalism training and being able to write quickly, concisely and on a deadline.” During those three years at BU, Mike worked for the daily student newspaper and also interned in the Boston Celtics PR department during the Celtics rise to the top of the NBA again, this time with Larry Bird’s team winning the NBA title in 1986.

Upon graduation, Mike moved to Houston Texas to take a job as newspaper reporter, spending 2 years there, eventually becoming sports editor (and winning several AP awards along the way).

Mike next moved back to MA to join EDA start up Gateway Design (1988). When one of the Big 3 EDA companies Cadence bought Gateway, Mike became part of the Cadence team. Mike naturally moved to California and ran the Cadence corporate PR. In 1997, after about ten years of PR success, Mike decided to leave Cadence (just after CEO Joe Costello had resigned). It had been a great run at Cadence and Mike had had a chance to work with some outstanding people (Joe Costello, Tony Zingale, and others).

This became a pivotal moment in Mike’s career.

Toni Sottak

While thinking about what he wanted to do, Mike started his own consulting firm. Mike credits his spouse Toni for supporting his decision, and later Toni joined Mike in running his new business.

Mike’s first client was a MCAD company called CADLab, which changed its name to think3, headed at the time by one … Joe Costello. Gradually Mike added additional clients in the EDA and IP space.

Around 2000 Mike’s long-time Cadence colleague
Laurie Stanley joined Mike’s firm and they have worked together ever since. The vision was to provide excellent marketing and PR support in ‘an un-agency like’ manner. Laurie and Mike had both spent their entire PR careers on the ‘corporate’ side and had never worked in any kind of agency, so it was all new to them. They did know what they liked and didn’t like about agency relationships from their corporate experience, so they set out to offer a senior-level consulting service that delivered the corporate PR, marketing and communications people really wanted. Mike’s firm has been able to work with other great industry PR and communications people on a project
basis as part of ‘virtual teams’ – Lynda Kaye, Jim Lochmiller, Jill Jacobs, Annette Bley, Kent Jaeger, Dori Jones -  to name a few. Mike’s firm has always focused on what he knew best – semiconductor design and related industries – IP, manufacturing, etc. While it was tempting to look at other ‘sexier’ industries over the years, especially as the era really bubbled over, the team realized its true value was all about how semiconductors are designed and manufactured.

Always Wired: Mike Sottak in Lake Como, Italy

In the 14 years since his firm started, Mike and his team have had the opportunity to work with all sorts of companies, big and small. Big companies like Xilinx, Global Foundries, Broadcom, as well as a whole bunch of start-ups – some of which have come and gone. The start-ups and smaller companies are fun, says Mike, because of the excitement and passion they have, and one is usually working with a founder or senior executive. Mike is grateful to have the chance to work with some great people through Wired Island PR, on both the client side and in the journalism world. “We’ve been blessed with outstanding clients.
That’s been the key to our longevity – working with people who ‘get it.’ One person who has been tremendously helpful and influential is Jim Hogan – a true friend and supporter of Wired Island,” says Mike.

Wired Island PR keeps a very small portfolio of clients – usually about 5 or 6 max -  because the firm is small and it wants to give each client individual attention. Mike is proud of the relatively small amount of turnover his firm has experienced with its clients. Wired Island PR has no goal of becoming a huge agency and prefers to work in a hands-on fashion.

Wired Island PR is based in the not-so-traditional high tech center of the Turks and Caicos Islands, where Mike and his family have chosen to call home. Their children Savannah (11) and Lindsey (7) have both been raised in the islands, but they are definitely “all American” girls, according to Dad. “The location is a lifestyle choice but it shows how connected the world is these days. Even being in a relatively remote location, we can stay plugged in. In fact, I would say we can be more productive in some ways, because there are fewer distractions,” Mike notes. He spends a fair portion of time on the road
attending industry events and visiting clients, but he always strives to maintain a healthy life-work balance.

        Some of the Wired Island PR Personnel at Headquarters

In response to a question, Mike said, “The PR and communications business, particularly in this space, is very challenging these days. Obviously, we’ve seen a massive decline and consolidation in the media ranks, particularly in print publications, so we’ve had to adapt our strategies to adjust to the new realities of PR. On-line strategies are critical and we counsel our clients to think like publishers themselves – they can develop, control and deliver the message directly to their audiences through a whole new range of communications tactics – blogs, web events, social media, email marketing, etc.  It really
changes the dynamic of a company’s communications strategy, and the importance of being able to develop compelling messages and content is absolutely critical. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of ‘new media,’ but it still comes down to the fact that you have to know how to tell a story and understand who you are telling it to.”

“That said, there is and always will be, in my opinion, an important role for the ‘traditional’ media (it just might not be packaged and delivered in ‘traditional’ ways, like paper and print, or even broadcast airwaves). We will always need a credible, independent and objective voice to put news and information in perspective even at our level in the chip design space,” Mike concluded.

Wired Island PR Staff at Christmas

[2] FOOTNOTE (continued) Background on Laurie Stanley:

List of positions held:

Wired Island, Ltd., Senior Communications Affiliate, 2000 – present

Represented Wired Island while living in Silicon Valley from 2000 to 2008 and now presently in New England after returning to Massachusetts. Worked with a number of WI clients over the years, most notably SpringSoft, Xilinx and Chartered Semiconductor (now Global Foundries).  Account Manager for SpringSoft from the beginning of the company’s relationship (initially as Novas Software) with Wired Island.

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-- Russ Henke, Contributing Editor.

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