EDA Confidential

Courtesy is Queen, but Cooley is King

by Peggy Aycinena

March 18, 2009  

Dear John, wherever you are,

It's Silicon Valley calling to say you're missed. This week the Synopsys Users Group conference is playing itself out at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It looks like several thousand people have come to town for SNUG, but no John Cooley. Why?

I went to Aart de Geus' SNUG keynote this past Monday morning. What a crowd! Hundreds and hundreds of people sitting in countless rows of folding chairs in the cavernous, shadowy, cement-floor ballroom. Nobody expects groundbreaking news when an EDA CEO addresses his user population that's the special purview of entities like Apple et al. The real reason I came to the SNUG keynote, perverse as it may be, was to hear what the "not Press" John Cooley would ask de Geus during audience Q&A after the keynote.

In the past, the Press have been asked by the Synopsys crew not to lob questions at de Geus from the floor of the SNUG keynote venue: "Save it for later, please."

Even so, every year Cooley has always been first at the mike with questions for the CEO. When I've asked why Cooley gets to ask questions, but none of the rest of us, it's been very clearly explained: "Here at SNUG, we don't consider Cooley to be Press." I've always loved that. What a special place you occupy, John, here in the EDA ecosystem.

Ergo, it was sharply disappointing to see Sunburst Design's Cliff Cummings step up to the floor mike with the first questions, after de Geus wrapped up his hour-long talk. Cummings said, "I'm kind of here as John Cooley," and then added, "Only, I'm nicer."

Oh please. Kill me now. Where was Cooley? I didn't come all that way just to hear some softball questions lobbed at the Synopsys CEO from a courteous kind of a guy. I wanted Cooley. And if the listless audience response was any indication, so did everybody else in the room. Even though Cummings's questions for de Geus were clearly just as pre-scripted/pre-approved as Cooley's questions have been in the past, it still wasn't the same. People don't want courtesy. They don't want nice. They want Cooley. They want rude, rough, and real even if it's just an illusion. They want theater.

And there's more. Three weeks ago today, I moderated the executive panel at DVCon, also here in Silicon Valley. There were probably 250 people in the ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel. In years past when you've been moderator, John, there've been more like 350 or 400. Why? Is it because travel budgets are down this year? No. It's because people don't want courtesy. They don't want "nice." They want rude, rough, and real even if it's just an illusion, even if it's just theater.

EDA users want theater, John, to light up their dry, stable, rational lives. And now I understand why. EDA is boring as shit without you, John, and so is all of Silicon Valley. Courtesy may be Queen, but Cooley is definitely King. Come back soon. You're sorely missed.


The Prudish Church Lady


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