The #1 question everyone asks me is “What are you hearing”?

Technical jargon, everyone writes or blogs about who is doing what where, and even to whom. My column is the only place where “EDA-/ers” can go to get career help and general information about what is important beyond the technical stuff. I try to address a plethora of realities, admittedly, topics concerning careers usually at the forefront. But this issue of my column is remarkably different, and quite possibly the most important column I have published so far.

Much of what I write comes from information I have gathered from countless executives that I speak to daily, associates that enjoy sharing-exchanging information, as well as gaining feedback from those that work within the confines of our little EDA community.

The #1 question everyone asks me is “What are you hearing”? Knowing how widely read this column is (thank you all very much) I wanted a way for more of us to know what the few of us are hearing.

It was with those conversations in mind, that I made the decision to start an annual survey. I realized that this column was the perfect vehicle to allow readers to learn first hand from those that (allegedly) know, and let you read their answers directly from the horse’s mouth. (Not nice to call a CEO a horse...My mom always told me not to bite the hand that feeds you). So I decided to ask a select group of EDA C-Level EDA company officers their thoughts on a few very important and relevant issues. The response back was quite impressive, but I must say what amazed me most, was how many answered, and preferred to stay anonymous.

Today’s column brings you first hand information on what I think really matters, what I think you want to know about the non-technical component of our business.

The fact that many answered anonymously, in effect changed the type of column I intended. Some answers will be direct quotes, from some very important EDA Executives that wanted their name included with their comments, and others that wanted their opinions to count as well, but just not with their names attached. What follows is exactly that, a compilation of answers to my questions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback, as it is great to hear from those that do not always get a chance to voice their thoughts on the industry. Here is the first question….

(NOTE…In some cases I have paired down some of the answers and when duplicated only stated the combined. Respondents were given options on what questions they preferred to answer).

What has changed in the way you hire people over the last several years?

Greg Lebsack, President, TannerEDA… The primary requirement is the new hires need to be experienced and able to contribute instantly. We don’t have the time & budget to train and integrate new employees.

Jim McCanny CEO/President of Altos-DA… As a small EDA player our focus is on quality not quantity. Highly qualified experienced people have become more affordable and therefore we would rather take the time to find the person who doesn’t need much training than to hire quickly and train. For inexperienced but raw talent we will look start to look overseas first.

Anonymous… Companies are more selective but at the same time it is more difficult to find the talent. EDA is no longer viewed as a growth industry and its ability to attract new talent has been greatly diminished. Although there are a fair amount of people looking for employment people are looking for the perfect candidate because the cost of these folks are relatively high given their experienced level .

Jens Anderson VP WW Sales Nangate… Cost predominantly have forced us to hire younger and less talented engineers. However, those of us that has been in EDA long enough see through the quick savings and recognize there are an even more need for a combination of both the senior and talented full flow engineer and younger, energetic learners.

Michiel Ligthart COO Verific Design Automation… No need for recruiters. I get more unsolicited resumes than I can handle.

Lauro Rizzatti VP of Marketing, GM of EVE-USA… We rely more and more on word-of-mouth, probably due to the nature of our business. Internet-based recruiting seems not appropriate for our needs since we look for very specialized personnel.

Andreas Ripp… VP Sales and Marketing MUNEDA… Not much, we hired colleagues mainly based on personal contacts but also on standardized hiring processes.

Prakash Narain… President/CEO Real Intent… Not much. We still look for good and especially talented people. We prefer talent over experience.

Anonymous… Over the time, we are more experienced in spotting the right candidate from the pool. We have been more decisive in making offers.

Anonymous… More focus on fit with team.

Is your company feeling the same degree of success, as say most of “your” customers seem to be reporting?

Jim McCanny… To a lesser extent yes. If our customers do well they tend to develop newer and more leading edge products, which leads to using more tools. However we don’t get to enjoy the huge profit margins that a new chip on a killer application would enjoy, just improved incremental growth.

Anonymous… I think customers are reporting financial success in large part due to cost cutting and they have been able to make do with less investment and less people. There are new design starts which comes with some marginal expansion seen by EDA customers but by in large the recovery has been muted with respect to our customers financial results.

Lauro Rizzatti… 2010 is becoming a record year for EVE both in orders and in revenues. We look forward to 2011 as another year of growth.

Greg Lebsack… Our customers are reporting a wide degree of success, and our monthly and quarterly numbers have the same variations in success.

Michiel Ligthart … No, we don't. Our customers, which are a combination of public EDA and semiconductor companies are making excellent profits but are unwilling to invest those in infrastructure.

Anonymous… I believe we are tracking the success of most of our customers. When they are successful, we have an easier time to close a deal. When they are in a difficult situation, we have to go through a hard time to close a deal. Overall we have a healthy steady growth.

Jens Anderson… Yes, we have almost doubled our revenue yearly over the past 4 years and expect a 100% growth again this year. Especially Japan has once again started to pursue EDA solutions.

Prakash Narain… President/CEO Real Intent “More”.

Anonymous… yes, and more so.

What has to change in EDA for more jobs to be created? (Business models, Investment models, changes in spending allocations, etc.

Jens The big guy's monopoly has to change for the small to medium EDA companies to succeed. Secondarily the traditional EDA model as we see it must move more towards either a combination of EDA and IP, or totally IP. The collaboration models that are being pushed by the larger foundries, well one particularly, is a good sign that others must do the same, and thus the EDA solutions will again begin to blossom, unless the monopoly prohibits such scaling with price wars.

Andreas Ripp… More investment money has to go into EDA (VCs, Business Angels) to enable more innovations. Maybe also the opportunity to have mid-term to larger EDA companies all over the world (not only in US) to get more attractive exit channels for EDA companies everywhere. More innovations, more EDA spin-offs from universities, more EDA carve-outs from the industry, more entrepreneurs…

Greg Lebsack… Jobs will come when the industry grows. EDA R&D costs are rising and becoming very difficult for EDA companies to bear the entire cost. New business model and investment models…perhaps R&D investments by the IDM and large fabless companies…will be needed to fund advanced R&D.

Anonymous… The EDA industry is its worst enemy here with the big guys doing these large “all-you-can-eat” deals. This puts a relatively low ceiling on pricing power, which basically reduces the financial strength of the companies to making reasonable investments in developing new products to expand the market. The reality is that most companies in EDA are concerned with market share rather than market growth. Given that the number of companies and designers are not increasing (more likely shrinking) and pricing power is diminished by the current practices, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the future. This also impacts the desire of the VC community to invest in new companies, which in the past acted as an R&D function for the industry – I am afraid the long run will be three large companies chasing a shrinking industry. However, it does give some entrepreneurial companies an opportunity to push outside of the traditional space, but funding these ventures will be difficult due to the financial weakness of the larger players to purchase at reasonable multiples.

Jim McCanny… The current tools have to break due to a radical change in design methodology, process technology or major shift in end market needs, that causes a dramatic increase in the number of design starts. While one of these events is possible in the near term, I believe most of the growth will come from making incremental improvements in the efficiency, ease of use and base capabilities of existing tools. Other ways to grow is to expand in adjacent areas such as IP and systems software and it looks like that has already started.

Lauro Rizzatti … EDA is dominated by three juggernauts who control business models, investment models (try to get VC money if you can today) and so forth. They have virtually life or death power. Not really healthy for the whole EDA industry.

Anonymous… Increased investment into technology. This will only happen with a change in the business model that enables a return for investors. Large EDA companies need to figure out how to create “In-House” start-ups funded by a shift in spending from funding of useless sales resource to R&D.

Prakash Narain… More companies. The number of EDA companies is shrinking.

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