John Cooley just published the first group of "edgy" questions submitted for his troublemaker panel at DAC. I must say the questions are almost all relevant, but very few will be answered. All the questions related to lawsuits, all the questions related to market share, all the questions related to top users of a specific product, all questions related to possible acquisitions, and all questions that ask why executives of a particular company are apparently stupid will of course not be answered. So, the collection of questions is a very well thought out vehicle to let users and competitors blow out steam, but certainly not to shed light on the industry. This will be another "EDAC CEO Panel" style event. It may make for good entertainment, John is always entertaining, but will yield very little knowledge.
From the questions submitted I learned that there continues to be concern about Mentor, its relationship with Carl Icahn that continues to be contentious after more than one year. I would have thought that by now either the war would have culminated in a final battle, or that the two parties would have learned to co-exist for the good of the company. Instead the climate of uncertainty continues, and the two parties are still trying to be awarded the "biggest cojones" award. Frankly I was surprised by Mentor's effort to push Gary Myers off its Board of Directors. I spoke with Gary shortly after he was elected, and I did come away with the impression that he was truly intent at making Mentor, not Icahn, successful.
Since Mentor must recognize Calypto's financial results as part of its own, asking about the transfer of Catapult C in terms of cost vs. revenue does not make sense. What does make sense is asking about the focus of a product line and how it was fitting in Mentor versus how it fits in Calypto.
Questions to Cadence that read like "why aren't you like Synopsys" are pointless. Cadence is a very different company than Synopsys. The latter is the embodiment of the knowledge, drive, and wisdom of Aart, supported by very able professionals like Chi Foon. Cadence is a company that lacked a CEO in the period from Joe Costello to Lip-Bu Tan. And Cadence is still looking for a personality. EDA360 was an attempt to give a name and a direction to a conglomerate of good products that do not seem to fit a vision. I am willing to give it one more year, assuming that they can manage to keep their executive team together and working as a team.
EVE cannot talk about the Mentor suit, so it is pointless to ask. And it is not clear that EVE fits in Aart's vision. I know how I would make it fit, but then I am not Aart (darn it)!
EVE is doing just fine, well enough in fact to continuously attract Mentor's attention, and has more than one exit opportunity if and when it decides to take it. It can go public on a European exchange, it can be purchased by more than just Synopsys (can you say Springsoft?), it can go public in the US, it can merge with a mainland China company.
While some of its competitors are "diversifying" by going toward the system market (unfortunately without giving a precise definition of what it is), Synopsys is going toward the manufacturing part of the industry by entering the equipment market. How cool is that? This follows both of Aart's rules: go into something I understand, and go into something that offers the opportunity of a large margin.
I believe that Berkeley Design Automation is the next Apache. Just give them a few months and they will realize their exit strategy. In their case the VC's have been patient, but only because growth is a great motivator. If you are in a speculating mood, think Synopsys. With the Magma and Berkeley technology one can easily become king of analog and mixed signal. And leave poor Ravi alone: he has bigger fishes to fry than EDAC, an organization that does not make Aart loose any sleep.