John Bruggeman, Cadence’s new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), is bringing a fresh sense of excitement and vision to Cadence and the EDA industry. In this interview he talks about EDA as a “noble cause” that can help save the planet, and he challenges the EDA industry to rediscover its importance. He also tells why he joined Cadence and what he hopes to accomplish. John is responsible for Cadence’s strategy, products, marketing, ecosystem, and channel.
Q: You’ve held executive marketing positions for some leading software companies including America Online, Netscape, Octel, and Wind River. What attracted you to EDA?
A: I wasn’t attracted to EDA -- I was attracted to the problem. The problem is so compelling that I had to find the place that was most likely to solve it.
The world has become digital. From the electronics we use daily in our handhelds, to the cars we drive and the planes we fly on, digital technology has enabled more functionality, capability and possibility than we could ever have imagined. But that is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the promise of what can be is phenomenal. We can find new energy sources, clean up the planet, and make the world safer. We can improve air quality and design a car that doesn’t need fossil fuels.
At the heart of this vision are the SoCs [systems on chip] that go together and make up systems. The problem – the other edge of the sword -- is that the more we dream, the more complex SoCs become. Complexity has far outpaced our ability to deliver systems. It’s outpacing physics and taking us beyond what we can control, manage, and test. Complexity makes it difficult to manufacture high-quality systems at a cost we can afford.
So who in this world can solve the complexity problem? Who could enable all the good things I just talked about and save the planet? At first I thought it was the embedded software guys, because more and more software is enabling digital systems. But then I saw that software cannot live independently from the chip. Next I thought it might be the chip companies themselves, but I was at Intel just long enough to realize that they are just trying to manage the problem, not solve the problem. So I came to believe that if anyone will solve it, it’s the EDA industry. We deliver the tools that make it possible for semiconductor companies to manage complexity, cost, power, and quality.
I went to EDA to save the planet. This is a noble cause.
Q: If you go back 10 or 20 years ago, EDA was a rapidly growing industry with a real sense of excitement. Now there’s little if any growth and the excitement is lacking. What happened?
A: We forgot about our quest. We asked, “how can I do layout better? How can I do verification better?” Making an SoC is hard. Our customers are struggling to develop all this functionality at a cost and quality the market will bear, and we forgot we enable that.
We thought this was a rapidly commoditizing, unimportant, tactical little industry that delivered some good software people use. We forgot it was necessary. We lost sight of the big problem. And because of that customers did what I would do, which is to say, “if you want to be tactical and you want to be a commodity and you want to be unimportant we’ll have a discount discussion.”
I think we’re at a breaking point in the EDA industry. EDA tools have to get bigger, they have to get broader, and they have to get more ambitious. In doing so, we’ll capture more value again. We’ll become important and we’ll become strategic for our customers. Customers don’t mind paying for value. We just haven’t been delivering the value.
Q: You recently commented that IC design is starting to focus on IP integration as much as original design. What are the implications for EDA tools?
A: Think about what an integrator does versus what a designer does. It’s two separate tasks. You wouldn’t think that the exact same tools would do both tasks. But this has been an industry that’s said, “I have a hammer so everything looks like a nail.” Well, I’m telling you that integration is a screw and you need a screwdriver, not a hammer.
Q: How will Cadence help customers with SoC integration?
A: We’re going to get right in there with them. We’re going to provide the right tools, we’re going to provide the right services, and we’re going to build out the right ecosystem. I think you will absolutely see some significant initiatives and programs that map into our vision for the marketplace.
Q: What attracted you to Cadence?
A: I think Cadence is the EDA player that is most likely to take on a leadership role for the industry and to take the industry beyond where it is today. Cadence has tremendous strength in its management team, the depth and breadth of its technology and product line, and the power of its installed base. We have the willingness to lead.
At Cadence, we have a fresh team who’s excited and energized and willing to work with our customers to re-invigorate this industry.
Q: What are your priorities at Cadence?
A: One is to rally the company around a clear, consistent strategy. Another is to make sure that the products and the product roadmap are delivering against that strategy. Then we market the heck out of it so people are aware of how all this works together, and we make sure we’re delivering as much customer value as we can.
Q: There’s been a decline in EDA marketing. What kind of marketing is needed to bring EDA out to the forefront again?
A: I think we lost our way. We did a ton of point product marketing. We forced the marketplace and the customer to add it all up, and put it together into pieces that made sense and that matter. While my EDA brethern continue to do that, I’m going to go up a level. I’m going to talk about solutions and initiatives. I’m going to talk about stuff that matters to executives who are trying to run businesses. And we’re going to apply our technology to solve their problems without ignoring the users we’ve been talking to for the past five to ten years.
Q: How will your experience in embedded software with Wind River help you in your role at Cadence?
A: At Wind River, my customers were the customers of EDA customers. We sold to semiconductor vendors’ customers, and I have a unique point of view and perspective because I lived the pain our customers lived.
The world is becoming more and more a software world, and EDA vendors have not understood that. That doesn’t mean they don’t go into software, or experiment from time to time and try to add software capabilities, but they’re not embedded software people. I think that in the coming months and years, a deep understanding of embedded software will be essential to the success of EDA players. I’ve learned a lot about that and I can bring some unique perspectives to this industry.