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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

ESDA’s Big Four Panel: 20 Questions that won’t be asked

 
March 23rd, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Something historic and poignant
is taking place on Thursday, April 6th, that should be of interest to absolutely everyone in the EDA and IP communities. The four most powerful men in these two industries will be on stage for an ESD Alliance panel discussion led by Semiconductor Engineering’s Ed Sperling.

The four panelists include Synopsys Chairman & CEO Aart de Geus, Cadence President & CEO Lip-Bu Tan, Mentor Graphics Chairman & CEO Wally Rhines, and ARM CEO Simon Segars.

The April 6th event will be historic because these Big Four unequivocally define EDA and IP – just as Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker defined Railroads in the West – and it’ll be poignant because you’ll never see them together again. Too many changes ahead.

Of course, the ESDA panel will also be whimsical: You’ll know no more about these CEOs and their companies at the end of the evening than you knew when you first arrived. That doesn’t mean the evening won’t be entertaining.

As you sit, safe and serene in your seat at Synopsys, you’ll be treated to a display of courtesy and collegiality, as well as broad visionary statements about self-driving cars, health care, Big Data, cloud computing, AI, ML, ubiquitous connectivity, massively parallel computing, the global semiconductor supply chain, the IoT, security, Tesla, Facebook, Google, Apple, the importance of innovation, and the prognosis for Moore’s Law.

In other words, topics upon which you yourself are equally capable of articulating broad visionary statements.

But that’s not the point of attending such a panel, to confirm you know as much as the Big Four: The point is to capitalize on a unique opportunity to just sit and stare at these guys and contemplate their zeitgeist.

After all, these four have a lot in common: They all lead organizations with thousands of employees, they’ve all served for years in leadership roles at their companies – in some cases, for decades – they all serve on the Board of Directors of the ESD Alliance, they’re all poised and articulate in a public forum, masters of stating the obvious while making it sound profound, and they’re all part of the 1%.

There will be few, if any, in the audience on April 6th who earn more than any of the Big Four, because if anyone did, they wouldn’t be sitting and contemplating the panel’s zeitgeist. They’d be appearing on their own panel in some other Non-committal Court of Collegiality and Courtesy.

By the way, of the four men who will be on the ESDA panel, there is one similarity shared only by Simon Segars and Wally Rhines.

Segars in a British national, whose legendary company was sold outright to foreign interests last year. SoftBank, a Japanese organization, now wholly owns ARM which is no longer publicly traded, and Segars presumably reports to a higher power in Tokyo.

Similar to Segars, Rhines is an American national, whose own legendary company is in the process of being sold to a foreign enterprise. Siemens is a German company. After the upcoming acquisition, Mentor Graphics will no longer be publicly traded and Rhines will presumably report to a higher power in Berlin or Munich.

And so it goes. The world turns, things change, people move on, move out, or retire. A panel discussion between this particular Big Four, the likes of which will be showcased by the ESD Alliance on April 6th, will never again occur.

And speaking of non-committal, below please find the 20 questions you can pretty much bet Ed Sperling won’t be asking of any of his panelists.

If you want to find out what questions will be asked on April 6th, register here and prepare to be entertained.


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20 Questions that won’t get asked …

1 – After the Seimens/Mentor Graphics deal goes through later this spring, will Mentor be a German corporation, or will it be an American corporation still subject to the complex export compliance regulations set up by the U.S. Government to prevent pivotal technology from falling into the hands of hostile powers?

2 – As SoftBank has just sold 25% of ARM to Saudi and Abu Dhabi investors, will the agenda for ARM be different, considering that Abu Dhabi owns GlobalFoundries and could argue for less, not more, diversity in ARM’s customer base?

3 – Have the customers/will the customers be well served by the SoftBank/ARM and Siemens/Mentor acquisitions? Will customers actually have better support for product lines out of ARM or Mentor Graphics?

4 – Will Synopsys follow the lead of Mentor and ARM, and be bought by an off-shore entity – perhaps TSMC – in order to avoid US restrictions on trade?

5 – Any chance Cadence would move its headquarters off-shore to avoid export restrictions, perhaps to India or Taiwan?

6 – Now that Synopsis is playing in the software security market, are they reconsidering their offices in Russia, particularly in light of recent geopolitical developments and revelations concerning the Russians?

7 – How will Britain’s exit from the EU affect ARM? Any chance the company will be relocated to the Continent, or even to Japan, to avoid the fallout of Brexit?

8 – After decades of sending development jobs off-shore, do any of the Big Four feel the need to follow the lead of the current administration and move a portion of those jobs back to the United States?

9 – As Mentor Graphics has operations in both Lahore and Cairo, how are the new travel bans on electronics on non-stop flights from those cities to the U.S. affecting Mentor’s ability to interact with their employees there?

10 – Is there any concern that the U.S. Government will put the kibash on Mentor Graphics being sold to a foreign company, given the intense relationship that Mentor has always claimed with customers in the American mil-aero industries?

11 – Do the Big Four prefer to see their IP used in chips manufactured in Taiwan rather than in the PRC because of concerns about the ability to protect that IP?

12 – What kind of security protocols are put in place by the Big Four to protect their IP when it is used in chips manufactured in the PRC?

13 – Do any of the Big Four feel that open source development tools and IP pose any kind of real threat to their hegemony in the IC design chain?

14 – RISC-V is rattling a cage in the distance. Do any of the Big Four feel the need to prepare to respond?

15 – If innovation is so important, why do the Big Three in EDA create market conditions that make it almost impossible for small startups to flourish?

16 – When one member of the Big Four sues another member of the Big Four, is it “just business” or does it sometimes make it difficult for the combatants to sit in the same room at ESD Alliance Board of Directors meetings?

17 – Whatever happened to Cadence’s EDA 360 Initiative?

18 – Could Synopsys have predicted 15 years ago that they would be so dominant today? How much of that success can be attributed to the 2008 debacle at Cadence?

19 – When will ML and AI replace the need for human chip designers? If tools optimize, why not meta tools to optimize the use of optimization tools and IP, eliminating the flawed humans in the equation?

20 – Why did the Big Four on this ESDA panel agree to participate? Did they expect to learn something from the exercise? What did they think their audience would learn from the exercise?

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2 Responses to “ESDA’s Big Four Panel: 20 Questions that won’t be asked”

  1. Sean Murphy says:

    “15 – If innovation is so important, why do the Big Three in EDA create market conditions that make it almost impossible for small startups to flourish?”

    This is a very good question. One answer may be Cardwell’s Law: every society, when left on its own, will be technologically creative for only short periods. See http://reason.com/archives/1993/05/01/creative-forces For Joel Mocker’s elaboration; I blogged about it in http://www.skmurphy.com/blog/2012/09/26/joel-mokyr-on-creative-forces-and-cardwells-law/

  2. […] “15 – If innovation is so important, why do the Big Three in EDA create market conditions that make it almost impossible for small startups to flourish?” Peggy Ayecinena in “ESDA’s Big Four Panel: 20 Questions That Won’t Be Asked“ […]

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