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As much as the Design Automation Conference (DAC) is about demonstrating solution capabilities to potential customers, it is also about personal connections. Reconnecting with old and current colleagues, and making new connections with people in the design community you haven't had a chance to meet before is as important as anything else you might do at DAC. Maybe it was just me, or maybe it was because of Twitter and the resultant familiarity with some of the people I met for the first time at the conference, but there seemed to be a level of friendliness between competitors that I'd not seen before.
I enjoyed meeting a lot of great people at this year's conference. Here's a list of 5 people that I thought were particularly fascinating:
Karen Bartleson from Synopsys is one of the nicest people in EDA (and that's saying something because there are a lot of nice people in EDA). Karen did an amazing job facilitating vendor neutral conversations in their "Conversation Central" room (a small room adjacent to the Synopsys booth with about 8 chairs and lots of good snacks). She also rallied folks around the #46dac Twitter hash tag for the conference, which was in turn broadcast on a 17' tall Twitter tower live at the show. In a somewhat bizarre cross-vendor connection, Karen gave me a flyer with a schedule of talks they'd be having which I in turn passed along to Magma CEO Rajeev Madhavan who promptly informed me that he was already planning to drop in! What a mash-up of EDA companies. Karen was voted "EDA's Next Top Blogger" at this year's DAC for her blog The Standards Game. You can follow @KarenBartleson on Twitter.
Here's Karen behind the keyboard:
I got a chance to meet John Cooley for the first time. I've been a reader of DeepChip.com for as long as I've been in the industry, so it was a bit of a surreal experience. He dishes it out in person just like he does on his site and in the videos I've seen him do. John is a controversial guy for his role as moderator of DeepChip, but the filter he applies and sensibility he brings to the information he delivers is part of why people read what he publishes. Like him or hate him, he's got a following in the industry. The most enlightening thing I learned about him is that the bulk of the work he does these days does not come in the form of long-term design contracting. He consults helping chip projects get "unstuck", but also does due dilligence studies of chip design and EDA companies on behalf of venture capitalists. John said he doesn't see value in Twitter at this point (the signal-to-noise ratio is poor), and he recommends against starting your own EDA blog without knowing what you're getting into. Why? Because 99.5% of blogs fail within 2 months, and even if they're successful they can sometimes end up owning you; constantly demanding that you keep it up to date. To test the waters, he suggests sending your EDA/chip thoughts to DeepChip.com, where it has a built-in audience of 25,000 subscribers and there's no requirement that you update there constantly. "I see 2 to 10 emails a week for new blogs. A good 99.5% consist of 2 or 3 posts on EDA, then 1 post about how cute their kid is, then nothing," reported John.
I had a chance to sit in on a small group conversation with Ron Ploof, and to chat with him for quite a while afterwords. What a trip. We covered a ton of ground discussing all things social media as it relates to corporations, especially EDA. Ron is one of the savviest guys in the world when it comes to social media, and his experience working with EDA companies make him incredibly well suited for consultation in this space. I'd highly recommend you check out his blog and connect with him if you're looking to discuss social media with someone who truly knows what he's talking about. Most memorable takeaway: In a group of 100 people, 1 will create content, 9 will interact with it, and 90 will consume it silently. You can follow @RonPloof on Twitter.JL Gray from Verilab is a really gracious and enjoyable guy to talk to. He moderated a small group conversation on EDA blogging that I thought was fascinating. JL has been blogging since July, 2005 on CoolVerification.com so it was great picking his brain and comparing notes with him on what works well in blogging as well as some of the challenges he's faced over the years. The thing I'm still thinking about since that conversation: Is there a truly objective voice with no conflicts of interest producing content anywhere in EDA? My takeaway: As a corporate blogger, there's tons of things you can write about without being critical of your product or a competitor's. Like producing useful content focused on helping customers be more successful doing their jobs. You can follow @JLGray on Twitter.
From left to right: Ron Ploof, me (Bob Dwyer) and JL Gray
Deepak Das is another voice to listen to. We discussed whether social media will "work" as well in EDA given confidentiality requirements of customers, historical lack of interaction between competing EDA companies, and engineering personalities in general being perhaps less interested in "friending one another up" as other personality types. It'll be interesting to check back in on this subject a year from now. In the mean time, check out this entry on his blog: Can the EDA industry truly leverage Social Media? You can follow @DeepakDas on Twitter.
Photo credits (and my thanks to): brillianthue
Question of the Day: What were some of the most memorable conversations you had at DAC this year? I'd love to hear about them.