Long-time Cadence CTO – Ted Vucurevich – will be leaving. The reasons behind his departure may give clues to Cadence’s future technology direction.
The departure of Vucurevich, Cadence’s tech savvy and personable CTO, may be nothing more than it appears. He has been with Cadence for 16 years during which time he established his reputation as both a technology expert and engaging speaker – the latter being something of a rarity in Cadence’s upper echelon of leaders.
Still, the timing of his leaving and the choice for his replacement may reveal much about Cadence’s short-term technology roadmap. Several industry observers have suggested Vucurevich needed a change of scenery. This is hardly surprising because he’s been with the company for the last 16 years – a long time to be in one place. But the desire for change may also be the result of Cadence’s continuing emphasis on financials over technology, as demonstrated by the recent appointment of yet another financial CEO, this time a VC – Lip-Bu Tan. It’s worth noting that Cadence’s competition – Mentor and Synopsys – still maintain CEOs with predominately technical backgrounds.
Further clues to Cadence’s near-term technology roadmap also can be gleaned from the appointment of Vucurevich’s direct replacement, Charlie Huang. Currently Cadence’s senior VP and chief strategy officer, Huang will be the acting CTO. “Charlie is well known in both the EDA entrepreneur and technical circles,” noted Adolph Hunter, Cadence’s VP of Corporate Marketing. His past experiences includes, among other things, serving as a general partner at Telos Venture Partners and – on the technical side – being the co-founder of CadMOS Design Technology and VP of R&D at EPIC Design Technology.
But here’s the catch: Both of these startups – CadMOS and EPIC – are very device-specific in nature, requiring a deep grounding in physics, material properties and device behavior. This suggests a continued focus on custom design at Cadence, as opposed to the broader and application specific system-level focus. (Xilinx’s upcoming announcement gives further credence to the trend toward application-specific designs.) The challenge in a declining economy is that most companies can no longer afford custom designs. Instead, designers will focus on commodity components doing system-level applications.
Am I suggesting that Cadence is abandoning ESL, verification and related “systems” markets? Certainly not, as demonstrated in a recent meeting with Ran Avinun, group director of marketing for system design and verification. Ran is another veteran of the EDA industry whose system background and focus will help Cadence take advantage of current design trends.
Vucurevich’s departure is just another sign of the struggles going on within Cadence. But to the EDA and semiconductor community at large, it means that we’ve lost one of our more engaging and personable members – at least, for now. Hopefully, he will still be engaging the community in his other role as lead guitarist for the Chad Tucker band. Rock on, Ted!