The ESL Edge


DAC- no free day?

At DAC this year, they are not offering a free day into the exhibition. I can’t help but think that this is a bad decision, especially given that it is being held in the Bay Area. Many conferences are showing large declines in attendance, and this is one feature that has drawn a lot of locals in the past. This takes away the ability for people to network without having to draw on the company expenses.

So far I have heard from several people who have said that because of this decision, they will not be attending DAC this year.  What do you think? Are the poeple who just attend the free day people not worth having there? Is this a sign of the decline in the exhibition? Will DAC become just a conference without the exhibits?

13 Responses to “DAC- no free day?”

  1. 1
    Gabe Moretti Says:

    I admit, free Monday was a convenient benefit. But do people just go to DAC on Monday because:
    1) it is free and,
    2) it is local.
    If so what is the value they expect from their attendance? Where is it written that things of value should be free? Free Monday was free because other parts of the conference took up the tab. I believe it is time every one pays for the benefits they derive. If the answer is that people only attended on Mondays to get souvenirs and network for free, well, it is over, and I think rightly so.

  2. 2
    admin Says:

    Thanks for your response Gabe. I wonder though if you are missing one of the benefits of free Monday and that is the expose that many companies may get to rank and file engineers who are not normally allowed the time or expense for DAC attendance. If the way they use this time is just to collect trinkets, then I agree it is a waste for everyone, but for people who are serious about finding out what is new and exciting, this was a great way to accomplish it.

    I would have thought this would be a good way for exhibitors to get some exposure to NON customers given that most of their marketing these days is directed towards existing customers. Admittedly, this has a bigger benefit for small companies who do not have the large sales teams or big marketing budgets that can be amortized over many products.

    So I agree that nothing is free, but who has the most benefit from paying – the EDA companies or the users who will now not know what is available.

  3. 3
    Grant Martin Says:

    Let’s also not forget that in today’s “Perception == Reality” games, a decline in attendance from the last time DAC was in San Francisco in 2006 (in late July too) will be both perceived as a disaster, and bloviated (bloggiated?) as such by the nay-sayers and merchants of doom that seem all too common these days, especially in EDA.

    Unfortunately, many people will read a headline stating that DAC attendance declined from the last time it was in San Francisco, and will read excited commentary on the death of EDA that this portends, and may not read more balanced commentary that this was (in part) due to DAC eliminating its free day. Witness some of the recent excitement about DATE, where people paid more attention to the decline in attendance at the exhibit part and missed that the conference part had the same attendance as last year.

    For this, and the reasons Brian states, I think it is unfortunate to see the free day removed this year of all years.

  4. 4
    admin Says:

    I received this response from Andrew Kahng – the DAC general chair

    Dear Brian –

    I read your blog posting today.

    Yes, passes to the DAC exhibit floor are available for $50 prior to the conference and $95 if purchased on-site. DAC has expanded the content offered to Exhibit-Only registrants over the last several years and continues to do so for this year through a modest registration fee.

    Exhibit-Only registration gives access to all four days of the Exhibition, the keynote sessions, including the plenary CEO keynote panel, all DAC Pavilion and Exhibitor Forum sessions, plus the new IC Design Central Partner Pavilion.

    Attendees can also get free access to the exhibit floor through a new program whereby exhibitors provide complimentary passes to their customers. Attendees need to contact their vendors to receive a complimentary exhibit-only registration code to be used during online registration at the DAC website. (I should say that exhibitor participation in this program is voluntary.)

    Additionally, DAC is expanding its outreach to those in the DAC community who are between jobs. Applications are now being accepted for the DAC Engineering Scholarship program. All applicants who lack a source of financial support will be able to attend the Exhibits for free. Here’s the link to the scholarship information:

    Please tell me if you have further questions or need more information.


    – Andrew Kahng, 46th DAC General Chair

  5. 5
    admin Says:

    As a further follow-up, the DAC committee is trying to better understand the impact that this will have on certain people. Please tell me your stories (privately and confidentially) and I will compile that information for them.

  6. 6
    admin Says:

    I have just been informed, that any pavilion panel participants can get a free exhibits-only pass. At least they have made this consistent with the main conference.

  7. 7
    Lou Covey Says:

    The decline in DAC attendance will not be due to the death of EDA, but to the growing lack of support for the conference by the industry that it serves. The fact that Gabe points out that Free Monday was provided for by the support of exhibitor demonstrates the declining support.

    Let’s be clear, I am not saying DAC isn’t important, I’m just saying that exhibiting companies are seeing DAC as a lower priority in where they invest marketing dollars. And there is no end in sight for that perception.

  8. 8
    Erik Seligman Says:

    Personally, I think anyone in the industry who takes design & EDA seriously can easily afford the $50, and it is well worth it. I have attended with exhibits-only passes for most recent years, and got a lot of value out of the experience.

    If we filter out those who don’t value DAC enough to spend $50, I don’t see how it will hurt the conference, except perhaps in attendance number PR.

  9. 9
    Harry Gries Says:

    When I was on the EDA side of the fence, Free Monday was a sort of necessary evil. Very crowded, a real zoo. Never time for any real meaningful conversations.

    And I agree with Erik and others … if $50 is going to keep you away, gimme a break.

  10. 10
    Grant Martin Says:

    Of course $50 will not keep anyone serious away from DAC. But the lack of a free day may keep away more spur-of-the moment attendees who decide to go up at the last minute (even if a free day had to be registered before some cut off date, the fact that it was free meant that people could make their decision without necessarily asking for management approval and then use it or not at the last minute without worrying about not having approval for expensing anything).
    Why is this an issue? First, it has been several years since any day at DAC has been “a real zoo”. Second, that any decline in attendance will be latched on to by those who want to proclaim “the death of DAC” – no matter what the underlying cause, or whether the number of serious visitors is the same or increased. Sometimes the raw numbers are treated as the real numbers (since these days, perception often equals reality in many minds).
    Of course, the number might rise anyway. Or if it is less than the last time in San Francisco, people might not use that fact to prognosticate on the death of DAC. One might hope that all numerical analysis will be in-depth and serious – we’ll have to see.

  11. 11
    Jonah Probell Says:

    I have wanted to go to DAC for my whole IP career. At first I was too junior for a company to send me. During the last recession the travel expense couldn’t be justified. Since then I have missed several DACs due to conflicts of schedule or job obligations.

    This should have been my year. DAC is in my city and my schedule is very flexible. However, I’m pinching the pennies as I work on a self-funded startup. Never having attended a DAC before I’m probably not eligible for a DAC scholarship. Not quite knowing what I might get from DAC, the new $50 minimum fee is a real consideration in my cost-benefit analysis about going. I have not made up my mind yet but I have marked June 29th on my calendar as the day to decide before the price goes up.

  12. 12
    Sean Murphy Says:

    Jonah: your firm appears to be in the IP market. $50 would allow you to do a lot of competitive intelligence gathering in a day or two. You can learn quite a bit looking at a firm’s booth and sitting through their floor demo. Who knows, you might find one or two who would make a good partner. Just a thought.

  13. 13
    Brian Bailey Says:

    EDAC has stepped in to bring back free Monday! Here is the link to sign up:

    Please make sure that you follow all instructions to get access for free.

    Thanks EDAC

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