What’s sizzle got to do with it?

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On LinkedIn, Ed Lee, referring to this, wrote

Liz Massingill poses some questions about what Jim Hogan and Paul Mclellan call “sizzle” in EDA. Who has it? Does any EDA vendor?

I responded

Do you have historical examples of EDA sizzle? And, of the big EDA success stories, how many were sizzling in their first few years? (That’s a real question, not a rhetorical question.) The answers to these questions would help me to determine whether “as we all know, many engineering driven startups (even some engineering driven mature companies) undervalue or don’t understand the importance of sizzle – a big mistake.”

and Sean Murphy responded

The “sizzle” comment sounds like it came from a PR or marketing consultant (and I say that as a member of the tribe). I haven’t ever heard a prospect for an EDA tool who was an engineer or engineering manager/director/VP ask:

“Does your tool have sizzle? That’s one of our checklist items.”
“Do you have patents on your tool?”
“Is this tool based on PhD level work?”

Most EDA tools that were later popular (e.g. Design Compiler, Tegas, Verilog, Chronologic, Chrysalis,…) were initially not credible or viewed as a waste of time.
Design Compiler only got traction when it was positioned as “Gates to Gates.” Tegas and Verilog were each viewed as inferior to Spice for accuracy. Chronologic had severe limitations (e.g. no PLI), and Chrysalis could find a discrepancy but you couldn’t understand what it was telling you.

Nothing new ever works and trying to use “sizzle” with a new tool instead of focusing on real customer problems with a promise of real results in a given time frame is probably a recipe for spending a lot of money on marketing/PR consultants.

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