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Why Would You Leave Yahoo to Go Into EDA?

Why Would You Leave Yahoo to Go Into EDA?
by Paul McLellan on 02-06-2015 at 7:00 am

 I sat down this afternoon with Peter Theunis, the CTO of Methodics. Conveniently their office is about a 15 minute walk from where I live so we could chat face to face.

Peter started programming when he was 8 and his first “product” was a weather system for orchards where sensors in the orchards would send information back to a weather program that would advise the farmers when and what to spray the orchards with.

Peter came from Belgium as an exchange student at Berkeley, got a job at a job-fair and ended up staying in the US (I came for a couple of years, over 30 years ago, it happens to many of us). He worked for a couple of start-ups that didn’t start and then decided he had better join a larger company and get his green card. So he worked for a Telco in San Diego for a couple of years until they outsourced all their engineering to Shenzhen.

 In 2006 he joined Yahoo and worked there for 8 years in a number of different jobs, including 2 years working for Marissa Mayer when she joined from Google to be come CEO. One thing that he found there is that nothing off the shelf works for Yahoo. Vendors would come by and they would ask “will it scale to 600M people” and the vendor would have to admit that it wouldn’t really. He also learned the importance of requirements and, for a company like Yahoo, latency, throughput, scalability and capacity.

He had known Simon, the CEO of MethodICs, for a while and even advised them on occasion. Simon caught him at the right moment when he asked him to give MethodICs a shot and come and be CTO. Since Peter (well, his wife) was pregnant, the attractiveness of walking to work rather than spending 3 hours a day on Yahoo’s buses from San Francisco was also a big plus. He joined Methodics in June last year.

The prospect of making more of a difference was also attractive. I asked him what he meant. “The purpose of every major site on the internet, such as Yahoo, is to get you to click on ads. That is the metric. How many ads got clicked on.” At MethodICs, while it is not curing cancer, it is enabling the semiconductor industry which in turn has made an enormous difference to the lives of almost everyone in the world over the last few decades.

When he arrived, he was surprised, shocked even, to really see that way that the design pipeline works. It is very inefficient with ad hoc processes involving thinks like email. It was obvious that MethodICs could add a huge amount of value by standardizing and automating processes, and moreover providing metrics that allow the processes to be improved over time.

He is overseeing the development of ProjectIC to make it even more secure and reliable, “enterprise grade”. It needs to be robust and easy to operate so that it can be installed, forgotten about and will run for a decade (as opposed to internet software where 2 years is the maximum life before upgrading it completely). Simon asked him to “think outside the box and bring some of the Yahoo approach to the table.”

One big area is testing. Yahoo has hundreds of packages to be deployed to, perhaps, a thousand hosts. Simultaneously. There is a need to test combinations, multiple versions, automate the testing. IP has a lot of the same issues with multiple versions, complex interactions and lots of views. Software testing has changed from throwing it over the wall to Q/A to where testing (unit testing) is part of the development methodology with analytics to improve the flow.

Since semiconductor companies have often grown through acquisition, they often have multiple flows and, often, installation procedures that are not automated but are manual. It is not possible to change these flows or processes, especially in the middle of a project, so MethodICs needs to be flexible, to automate what can be automated but also support manual processes.

Peter has lots of ideas for the future as MethodICs brings on board a number of world-class computer scientists. We will all be watching.

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