John Bruggeman, the face and voice of Cadence Design Systems Inc. for most of his two-year tenure as the EDA vendor's chief marketing officer, is suddenly out the door (almost), and at least one analyst thinks the move portends a change in leadership at the firm.
Gary Smith, chief analyst at Gary Smith EDA, said the surprising departure of Bruggeman—who will remain at Cadence as a "non-executive employee" through Aug. 14—is part of a reorganization of marketing functions to pave the way for CEO Lip-Bu Tan to hand the reins to Charlie Huang, Cadence's senior vice president of worldwide operations.
Tan, a longtime Cadence board member, stepped into the Cadence leadership breach in January 2009, a couple of months after the previous CEO, Michael Fister, was forced to resign (along with four key vice presidents). At the time, many assumed it was a short-term fix, pointing out that Tan hadn't even bothered to quit his day job (he has remained chairman of Walden International, the VC firm he founded in 1987).
Now, two-and-a-half years later, Tan has won deserved praise for guiding Cadence through turbulent times, reversing the company's descent and righting the ship and, perhaps, desires to hand off the reins of Cadence and return to his VC work full time. (According to Smith, the rumor mill makes Charlie Huang, Cadence's senior vice president of worldwide operations, the favorite to become the company's next CEO).
Of course, this is only speculation, and as far as that goes it seems plausible enough. But what's the connection between a possible new CEO appointment and Bruggeman's departure? Officially, the explanation from Cadence is that the company announced to employees last week that product marketing would move into the corresponding R&D organizations within Cadence and that Pankaj Mayor, chief of staff to Tan, became acting head of marketing.
If Smith's speculation is on target, though, there may be another dynamic at play. Tan is highly respected throughout the semiconductor industry and deserves all the credit he gets for turning Cadence around from the dark place it was in when he took the CEO job two-and-a-half years ago. But Larry Ellison he is not. Unlike Aart de Geus and Walden Rhines—Tan's counterparts at the other two of EDA's "big three" companies, Synopsys Inc. and Mentor Graphics Corp.—Tan has not signed on to the role of being the face and voice of his company at industry events. Whether that is because he is not comfortable in such a role or because he simply prefers to focus on the details behind the scenes, the fact remains that he simply hasn't emulated the roles of de Geus or Rhines as spokesmen for their company's and for EDA as a whole.
Enter Bruggeman, who seems in fact to be most comfortable when at the head of a room full of people and never heard a question he couldn't answer with a perfectly crafted spin supporting his point of view. Bruggeman, despite not having an EDA background, created a whole new vision for EDA that involved playing in a significantly larger market, then trumpeted it loudly and frequently.
I think a crucial thing to do now at Cadence is to prevent further departures of productive employees during turbulent times like the one they are in now. With Ansys lurking close by with acquisitions of EDA companies, Cadence's best bets are matching some of Ansys' non-EDA offerings as a counter balance.
I've worked on & off at Cadence since the early 90's. Titillating story. Unfortunately, the comments are much closer to reality. Cadence has always been an innovation factory that few can manage, let alone exploit. It takes either a visionary that gets his/her hands dirty on the doing side of the vision, or a technocrat like Aart or Wally. That's why most of the real stars actually leave Cadence, or get pushed out. My guess is that the hunt is on for someone else to run Cadence. That's just not Charlie Huang's thing. Let's all hope they find the right person soon. Someone that can inspire and rebuild Cadence quickly.
As a Cadence employee, it's funny the perception John created outside of the company but in reality, there was a lot more that went on behind the scenes. No doubt John has been very visible in the EDA industry and portrays an image of higher knowledge. But this is exactly why pushing John out was the best thing that could have happened to Cadence. John is a great self-promoter but his leadership throughout Cadence was a very different story. He was divisive, demoralizing and disengaged much of the time. It doesn't matter how great your vision is, if you can't rally the troops behind you, you won't get anywhere. John was never going to be successful at leading Cadence to EDA360 glory, because he didn't have the leadership or personal skills to convince the engineering organizations his ideas were anything but superficial fluff. A common saying inside the company was that John's marketing was all flash but no substance. The press and analysts seem to buy in to his act, but the company who could see the real John, never did. The sad thing for the industry is that while he takes credit for the EDA360 paper, Richard Goering was the real author of that document. For me, I'm hoping we can now actually focus on how to deliver EDA360 because that is really what Cadence needs to do now.
Lip-Bu has done a great job of steering Cadence towards a predictible business path. It appeared that the street loved his simple yet consistent message quarter after quarter. He restored the confidence in customers and built the much needed partnerships completely reversing the culture set by his predecessor. Kudos to him for that. But he is not a Joe Costello for Cadence. I guess someone like Joe is badly needed for Cadence. John Bruggerman also did a marvelous job by re-establishing the Cadence brand through his more broad EDA360 message. After a long time, it appeared like Cadence was taking the right steps in all sectors to be a trusted partner in the entire eco-system. It is sad to see that John has to leave.
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