Guest blog: John Bruggeman

I think that the first time I saw John Bruggeman was at a Wind River Worldwide User Conference when he smashed his way through a polystyrene wall at the back of the stage with a sledgehammer to enter to give his keynote. I thought then that it was daringly different from the way I’ve ever started a keynote! Since Virtutech and Wind River worked together I met him several times and we even persuaded him to open our sales conference one year. When he joined Cadence I immediately guessed his username and asked him to write me a blog entry after he’d found his feet but before he went native. And happily he agreed.

 JohnB is in the house…Will EDA ever be the same?

Day 10 in my new CMO gig at Cadence…

After 100s of meetings, I have 1000s of thoughts relating to my new favorite obsession — EDA. Market dynamics, ecosystem, competitive landscape, conventional wisdom, business models, growth segments, product direction, pricing and packaging — the list of challenges goes on and on. 

But the one observation – beyond all the others – that completely blows my mind is the intense cynicism from friends surrounding my decision to join Cadence. On pretty much a daily basis, I‘m asked, “Why John, would a marketing guy like you make a move to EDA?” Translation: “What the hell were you thinking?”

I’m just two weeks in and unquestionably confident that my decision was right. How can I be so sure? Well, I can clearly pinpoint the exact thought process behind the decision and it all started when I read one simple article.

I’ve learned from experience that it’s easy to know when it’s time to leave a job, but it’s really hard to know where to go. Thankfully, my fellow critical thinkers, this industry has many pundits who have outlined “the rules” that are meant to help us find the light as we make our way up the path of advancement. “The rules” give us generally accepted principles or tribal wisdom by which most people should judge a new opportunity.

As luck would have it, I happened across an article published on that was skillfully written by a seer of great industry insight and highlighted the 10 things to look for in a “LEGENDARY” job. I recognized them right away – this article covered “the rules” in all of their well-acknowledged, well-heeded glory. 

Things to look for in a “legendary” job like…

Number 1: a company in a growing market with a strong brand and leading position.

And number 2: a company with products that customers view as aspirin (read: essential), not vitamins (a supplement). In bad economies no one takes their vitamins

And number 3: a strong balance sheet with lots of cash

And number 4: a legendary executive team.

And numbers 5, 6, 7, 8-10. All more of the same!

Ten things no one would argue with, right? Pretty obvious stuff for a successful enterprise. I read each recommendation closely and then to be sure, I read them again. Only I came to a different conclusion. Companies that already have these ten things going for them don’t need much marketing help.

I mean, who needs great marketing if the company already is the market leader, in a growing market, with the leading brand and the leading market position, with products that are absolutely essential, all supported with an awesome balance sheet?

Maybe I look at the world a bit differently than most people, but I aspire to be a great marketer and to meet a great challenge. To actually accomplish something extraordinary, I knew I was going to have to break “the rules”.

So why EDA? Here it is – short answer. EDA is an industry that needs to reacquaint itself with “legendary” marketing.

Let me tell you why I think so. EDA is a critically important industry. It matters, but somewhere along the way it has forgotten that it matters. The super complex, increasingly powerful, application-rich chips that are required in every device that is produced today CANNOT be developed without EDA tools.

However, this industry is in desperate need of leadership and vision. There’s a transformational business and technology shift changing the way that companies develop silicon. We’re at one of those inflexion points that comes once a generation. I strongly believe the company that enables and accelerates this transition will become the undisputed leader on all fronts: innovation, technology, thought and market.

EDA used to be exclusively about design. I’ll even pay homage to Intel’s symbolic team of engineering rock stars portrayed in its recent ad campaign. In the past, Intel-esque rock stars designed the chips we know and love. It was their goal to constantly make chips smaller, faster, with higher quality and reliability. Basically, these rock stars have continuously innovated all of the IP on a chip – every last piece of it. It isn’t like a friendly game of Guitar Hero either. The rock stars in this game have to spend a massive amount of time acquiring the resources and skills necessary to even start thinking about playing. You can’t fake it – there’s no air guitar.

Nowadays, it’s a fact — every industry is up against ever-increasing time, cost, quality and global competition constraints. I see some forces aggressively beating our industry’s “rock star model” into submission: the physics challenging the continuation of Moore’s law, the increasing importance of software that is embedded and the applications that run on chips. It takes too long, costs too much and worse, the quality is never where it needs to be. There is a tremendous amount of risk involved. It is impossible for one company to afford to keep all of the rock stars under one roof.

These forces have led the chip design process to a point of discontinuity. Integration is becoming just as important as design — integration of analog and digital IP, tighter and earlier integration of every stage of the design process, integration of heterogeneous, multiple cores on a single chip, integration of hardware and software. These and other integration challenges will forever change the semiconductor companies and their value chains.

EDA must rise to meet its customers’ changing requirements. Our customers need help in the transition to a business model that can meet the cost structure, meet the time constraints, and deliver quality in a more complex world. The rock star model must evolve. Rock stars will still create amazing IP, but “system integrators” will be equally important in the value creation equation.

These system integrators will work with internal and external IP rock stars, and even their end systems customers, using distributed systems. Hardware and software teams will be managed using executable specifications and metrics that bring more predictability to schedules, just as the complex system integrators do in the embedded software world that I come from.

That’s right, I spent the last five years in embedded software going through a very similar industry transformation. I know from experience what a shift to an inte
gration model looks like. Similar to embedded software, a community of experts in the EDA industry is forming and actively gaining momentum. They can’t be stopped and they won’t be ignored. They’re driven by fundamental economic forces. This EDA community is quickly developing a system integration model that can be broadly used and reused by the entire industry. But what comes next?

The way I see it, no one has answered the call of the community. No one has stepped up, raised their hand and focused on making sure our customers have the tools and techniques they need to face the coming challenges of the industry.

Well look closely, because my hand is up!

A great company is going to seize this opportunity. At the end of the day, this company will have achieved legendary results and be able to boast all of “the ten things to look for” mentioned in the Fortune article. This company will be THE “legendary” EDA company. This vision is why I joined Cadence. 

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