March 01, 2010
Altium Limited – Focus on the Americas
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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!


After devoting the first three issues of EDA Weekly under this writer's byline to “The Role of Business Planning” in high tech on November 9, 2009; to the “MAD Progress” at the Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis Division (MAD) on December 7, 2009; and to semiconductor IP provider “Virage Logic - On the Move” on December 22, 2009, we turned to yet another aspect of specialization in the world of EDA for the fourth EDA Weekly article that followed; namely “Agilent EEsof EDA - Part I” on February 01, 2010. (Agilent EEsof EDA - Part II is slated for a later posting).

For this fifth EDA Weekly article in this series (March 01, 2010), we focus on a worldwide EDA vendor based outside the United States, namely ALTIUM LIMITED, with headquarters in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

In fact, Altium's world headquarters are located on the 'upper north shore' in Belrose, some 17 miles and 40 minutes by car from the Sydney city center - an attractive HQ location, to be sure.

In as much as trips by this writer to each company HQ's were part of the necessary activity to score most of the interviews associated with his EDA Weeklies to date, (e.g. hot spots like San Jose, Fremont, Santa Rosa, …), fantasizing about a sojourn to Sydney certainly seemed in order. Until of course it was mentioned that Sydney was 7,420 air miles from San Francisco (or 14,166 miles through Hawaii and Japan to Australia by sea kayak).

Thereupon the writer re-focused his sights on a visit to Carlsbad, CA, the highly-desirable location of the Altium HQ for North America, and base for one Gerry Gaffney, who was to be one of the writer's main Altium interviewees in any case.

Known for its fine golf courses and seven miles of beaches, Carlsbad is a scenic coastal community located 35 miles north of San Diego (and only 465 miles by car (8 hours) from the writer's Albany CA office). Right on! The golf clubs were already packed!

Well, OK, so Altium's Carlsbad office isn't exactly on the Pacific coast. Indeed the Altium office is located inland at 3207 Grey Hawk Ct, east of Carlsbad nearly 10 miles, halfway to Escondido:

In the final analysis, it turns out that Gerry Gaffney actually resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and simply commutes to Carlsbad as needed. In fact, Gerry and his family have dwelled for the last five years in Los Gatos CA, located in the southwestern corner of the SF South Bay:

The writer's Albany CA office is a mere 58 miles away, located near the northeastern shore of the SF North Bay, from which both the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge can be seen on a clear day:


Naturally, on Interview Day, Gerry was -- you guessed it -- right here in the SF Bay Area. So much for the writer's fantasy of an exotic trip. Ce n'est pas grave.

Interview Day:

Happily, all arrangements for the initial interview of Altium's Gerry Gaffney were set up by one Jeff Hardison of McClenahan Bruer Communications, Portland, Oregon, 97201. McBru has represented Altium in North America since last September.

Gerry Gaffney was originally tapped by this writer to speak for Altium overall, because Gerry had recently been promoted (on November 19, 2009) to Regional CEO of the Americas for Altium. Gerry's former title at Altium had been “Senior VP & GM of Americas Operations,” a sales & support organization. (For Altium, “The Americas” mean both North and South America).

Gerry Gaffney's Background:

Gerry had joined Altium in that Americas Operations capacity in December 2007, having parted some two months earlier from an eleven-year tenure at Cadence. During the last portion of his Cadence experience, Gerry worked in Silicon Valley reporting directly to Kevin Bushby, then the EVP of Worldwide Field Operations for Cadence. During that period, Gerry was involved in structuring and helping to close a huge Cadence deal with Intel, among other assignments.

Prior to his Silicon Valley assignment for Cadence, Gerry had worked for Cadence Europe where he had most recently been Group Sales Director of Enterprise Sales. Before that, he was regional sales director for Northern Europe and Nordic Regions. Gerry had joined Cadence originally to follow the vision that Joe Costello had articulated, to help build a new group to execute large multi-million dollar outsourcing deals. This European group had numerous successes under its belt in a few years, but the group was disbanded after Joe Costello left Cadence.

Gerry's Cadence experience also included senior management and director level sales, corporate account management and outsourcing business management roles. He was previously with EDS and SERCO in the United Kingdom for several years, based in London.

Almost concurrent with Gerry's hiring into Altium in late 2007, one Jay Cao was named Altium's Regional Director China, based in Shanghai, and Anand Shankaran was named Chief People Officer for Altium worldwide, based in Sydney. These three appointments were part of Altium's 2007 strategy to add to its world-class leadership and business development talent, and to help accelerate growth. Emma Lo Russo, President & Chief Operating Officer at the time said, “Gerry, Jay and Anand all bring considerable experience in overseeing worldwide sales, business development and talent management. It gives me great confidence to know we have been able to attract this high level of talent and experience.

Back to the Beginning:

Born in 1964 in Dublin, Ireland, Gerry and his two sisters grew up there under the watchful eyes of his Irish parents. His father spent his entire career with Guinness Brewery and was able to retire in his fifties. In fact, Gerry's father just returned to Dublin after visiting Gerry and Gerry's wife and two children here in California in mid-February 2010.

After secondary school, Gerry spent several years at the College of Commerce Dublin to study finance and accounting. He later became a member of “The Chartered Institute of Management Accounts” in 1993 and relocated to London to seek better career opportunities. There Gerry joined Thompson Tours, where he became adept at organizing very large multi-discipline projects. (Today Thomson is part of TUI AG, the largest tourism and services group in the world, employing 80,000 people in 500 companies around the world). Gerry also met his future spouse in the UK and married in 1994. Gerry joined Cadence in Europe in 1996.

Returning to late 2007:

When Gerry first joined Altium in late 2007, he found that the Altium Americas group had established very few resellers and had been relying heavily on closing business for Altium software products by operating a large call center in Southern California.

Within a few months, Gerry began experimenting with adding resellers. He soon observed that the typical resellers who had past EDA vendor relationships, did not exhibit very strong skills in prospecting for new business, especially at the price points that Altium products occupied. Typical resellers Gerry encountered had different customer lists than Gerry felt were appropriate for Altium. Moreover, Gerry found that the bulk of Altium's market in North America consisted of prospects that were completely unaware of Altium's existence.

So Gerry set about searching for reseller candidates that had the right experience, perhaps those which had sold to customers using FPGA's, not just PCB solutions. Simultaneously, Gerry devised a whole new reseller training regimen that has come to be known inside Altium as “The Playbook”. This reseller training focuses more on describing to prospects the business benefits of switching to Altium software, and teaches resellers how to identify prospects' pain points and how to formulate the value propositions for using Altium as their vendor of choice.

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-- Russ Henke, Contributing Editor.


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