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Blogging for Consultants

Blogging for Consultants
by Daniel Payne on 03-05-2015 at 9:00 pm

Paul McLellan wrote about how he stumbled into blogging and it inspired me to share my story as well. I grew up in Minnesota and attended the U of Minnesota earning a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering so that I could design computer chips. After interviewing in 1978 with HP, IBM, Intel and Motorola I decided to join Intel in Oregon and design DRAM chips. It was amazing how little design automation there was, and correspondingly how much grunt work and manual design was required to design NMOS circuits at the transistor level. I kept asking management, “Where is the software to automate DRC, LVS and other tasks?”

Their reply was, “We hired you to manually do that, so get back to work.”

Clearly the short-term thinking was at operation here, and after 8 years of full-custom, transistor-level IC design work, I joined my first EDA company, Silicon Compilers in 1986. The president was Phil Kaufman, and he was another ex-Intel guy that knew how to run a company. At SCI I learned all about being an Applications Engineers, AE Manager, Technical Marketing Engineer and Product Marketing Manager. Along the way SCI acquired many companies, and then got acquired by Mentor Graphics.

I stayed at EDA companies until 2004 helping teams with a wide range of EDA tools (SPICE to HLS), and then became a freelance EDA consultant, offering technical and product marketing services. My networking on LinkedIn and keeping in touch with former co-workers continued to grow my consulting business. I discovered a monthly networking group that had lunch in the Portland, Oregon area and there met John Blyler.

In 2008 John started talking about his blogging at Chip Design Magazine, and asked if I would consider blogging. It sounded fun, and I knew that it would raise my consultant profile to prospective EDA companies, so I blogged for the next three years at Chip Design Magazine. I always wondered if anyone was reading my blogs and then one year I attended a DAC conference and was on the escalator when two engineers from downstairs pointed up at me and shouted, “Hey, aren’t you Daniel Payne, the blogger?”

Wow, who knew that bloggers could be popular?

At the 2011 DAC I met Daniel Nenni and he soon asked me to blog for his start-up site, SemiWiki. I had been reading Dan’s blogs and heard his vision for crowd-sourcing, and being an open platform for discussion on all things semiconductor, IP and EDA. It sounded like a novel concept, and there was a revenue model, so I accepted and began blogging at SemiWiki.

Every morning I read each new blog article to continue my education about our industry and keep up to date. Recently we’ve also begun focusing on the Forums, I’m mostly over in the EDA Software forum. I also view what’s happening on LinkedIn, review my RSS feed of interesting content, and search for tweets of interest by using a filter:
#SemiEDA OR #SemiIP OR #52DAC OR FinFET


At first on Twitter we were using #EDA but quickly found out the EDA also stands for Economic Development Agency, Electronic Directory Assistance, and is a popular search phrase in Japan and Brazil, all not related to Electronic Design Automation. Now we’ve been encouraging Twitter users to use #SemiEDA to be more focused on our industry, along with #SemiIP. So I’m spending about an hour per day reading and learning about the ever-changing news. Follow me @Daniel_J_Payne

One of the most visited Wiki pages is the one showing every EDA merger and acquisition since our industry began, thanks mostly to the efforts of Ian Getreu, another consultant in the Portland area.

Blogging at SemiWiki is a wonderful way for consultants to contribute to our industry, make new contacts and get new clients. I’ve enjoyed blogging about over a dozen different companies in the EDA and IP space, and with SemiWiki I learn something new every day.

Also Read: CDN is Live in Silicon Valley!

When I’m not blogging or consulting in EDA, you can find me out riding a road bike for fitness and a bit of competition by posting on Strava.com. If you ever visit the Portland, Oregon area, then look me up and I’ll meet you for a cup of coffee.


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