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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.

Paved in Gold: neither Streets of Silicon Valley nor EDA Nation

January 29th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Despite the international hype over the rich and famous of Silicon Valley, the truth is far less glamorous. In fact, I would estimate that for every gazillionaire that’s celebrated for having “won” in the tech sector in Northern California, there are a good half million people behind him or her that have not. That have not “won” big, but have simply showed up for work each and every day in the Valley, labored away intelligently year after year, and lived out lives of quiet contribution — not quiet desperation — implementing ideas, engineering better bits of this system or that, and helping to direct business decisions and market strategies deep within the organizations that reside here.

These are not the people who are in the headlines of the lay press, the business press, or the lead story in tech pubs. And even though it seems these lesser heroes are supposed to read the stories in the press and pubs about their more successful colleagues, they probably don’t. They don’t believe the hype. They don’t believe Steve Jobs invented the iPhone. They don’t believe the streets of Silicon Valley are paved in gold.

Several years ago, I had occasion to attend an event at the city hall of the City of Santa Clara. I fell into conversation with an employee of the city who explained to me that the pending Levi’s Stadium would be a big success because there were so many millionaires and billionaires in Silicon Valley: These winners would all pony up impossibly large wads of dough for impossibly overpriced seats at the then-under-construction football stadium. The claim was both impressive and concerning at the same time. The football stadium was being constructed for a rarefied population of people who had won so big they’d be inclined to throw their money around mindlessly? The city employee seemed to suggest that if I weren’t so naive, I’d see that the streets of Silicon Valley were paved in gold. Winners were everywhere.

All of this brings me to EDA. The same week that Apple announced the largest quarterly earnings in the history of quarterly earnings, it seemed logical to think about EDA. In some ways, EDA is to the semiconductor industry what the lesser heroes referenced above are to Silicon Valley. The 30,000 or so people who work in the EDA Nation constitute an industry that shows up for work each and every day, labors away intelligently year after year, and offers up endless, un-sung contributions to help implement design ideas and engineer better bits of this system or that, so that companies like Apple can create their mega-home-runs based on chips designed with the solutions that EDA provides to them, but are often not allowed to brag about.

Among the many contributors to Apple’s beautifully integrated products, EDA stands tall — and silent. EDA knows that it takes dogged hard work to create the tools that Apple uses to create their products. Nobody in EDA believes the hype. They don’t believe Apple works alone. They don’t believe the streets of Silicon Valley are paved in gold, or that Apple succeeds because they’re based here.

In fact, I’m guessing that few in EDA sat back on their heels and gasped at the astonishing numbers that Apple threw up. Sales of the iPhone 6 have hit almost 75 million units since its release. The EDA industry knew the latest product offering from Apple would be a success because they were there helping in the design process every step of the way, quietly and without fanfare.

The point of all of this is what?

Just like the real, hard-working people who labor away in Silicon Valley are overlooked in all of the hype, the hard-working people in EDA who labor away in support of companies like Apple are also overlooked in all of the hype. Wouldn’t you like to know what percentage of the success of the iPhone 6 could be attributed to contributions from EDA? I’m guessing fifteen-to-twenty percent at a minimum. And if that’s the case, why aren’t the annual earnings of the EDA Nation well into the tens of billions, and not just struggling along to reach 6 or 7?

It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma. And all of it paved in gold.


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One Response to “Paved in Gold: neither Streets of Silicon Valley nor EDA Nation”

  1. MP Divakar says:

    A poignant article, thank you Peggy! One thing I disagree with is your line on quiet desperation -there is indeed a lot of it in workers over 40 years of age.

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