EDA's industry "big three" held a panel session at DAC on the future of EDA and agreed that this is not "your father's recession."
Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO of Synopsys, Walden C. Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics and Lip-Bu Tan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cadence Design Systems were frank in their assessment of their companies, the EDA industry and the hi-tech industry as a whole.
"This recession will result in either a giant squeeze or a massive opportunity for EDA companies," said de Geus.
Wally Rhines concurred: "Historically recessions have been opportunities for innovation. You can cut back on marketing and manufacturing and even sales, but designs keeps going and on the rebound it is those companies that have innovated themselves out of recession that thrive."
Cadence's Lip-Bu Tan, a venture capitalist, said that this is not the best of times to be funded but offered budding entrepreneurs in the audience "the resilience of coming up with a step-function solution to a hard problem and sticking with it and not be afraid of taking risk."
All three executives agreed that talent is their most important asset and all three are making tremendous efforts to retain the best talent. Cadence's Tan said that we need to "make our employees feel part of our company family and trust their judgment and allow them to share in the solutions during these hard times."
De Geuss was more philosophical about the downturn: "I think this recession is one nobody has any idea how it will end. I do think that we are at a major 'reset' of living standards on earth." The Synopsys chairman predicted that not only the EDA industry but all of hi-tech as well as the rest of the economy will need to find a better way to deal with challenges facing the global community as a result of this lasting downturn.
He offered the Design Automation Conference audience thoughts on how EDA tools can be used to help in the three most challenging problems our civilization faces: health, education and energy.
Anecdotally he offered the following problem to solve: "What if your toaster could 'talk' to your refrigerator to tell it to shut the compressor when the toaster is in use?" "On the small scale, that is one energy-efficient problem that could be solved in the home. Think of all the other possible opportunities where EDA tools could help design more efficient power applications."
Rhines agreed that there are many other industries to tap with EDA tools: "The military, aerospace, automotive, medical areas are all behind in using automated design tools that we take for granted in designing chips." He offered his audience to think "outside the box" for expanding the EDA industry.
EDA is still a very important and exciting place to be. It may not be "your father's recession" but the "futures of EDA" are many and diverse.