EE Times buys DesignCon and may change the landscape for EDA

The hot news today is that the EE Times Group of United Business Media (UBM) has purchased the DesignCon conference for a bargain price of $1.4 million.  Yikes.  

I've always enjoyed DesignCon because it's technical content is just outstanding and very diverse... and I know I'm not alone in that belief.  Most editors I talk to prefer going to DesignCon than DAC for that reason.  (That's not to say DAC doesn't have good content so put your pitchforks down.)  The big difference between the two conferences is that the former is targeted toward what is going on inside the industry and the latter to what is going on in academia.  Plus dealing with the constantly moving circus that is DAC compared to the consistent location of the Santa Clara Convention Center makes planning and costs a lot easier to control.

But I've also felt that DesignCon's marketing has been about at par with what DAC has always done and as a result, the emphasis never changes: DesignCon is always the little cousin to DAC.  The acquisition may change all that.

UBM's Embedded Systems Conference has been a consistent money maker for the company and the push the hell out of it.  Going to the conference exhibits is always exciting and something news is happening every year.  Contrast that to the consistent lack of traffic on the DAC and DesignCon floors and you can see why people still spend money to exhibit there.

DAC is definitely upgraded its web presence and is making noises about how much better it will be for exhibitors, but I've heard that before.  The organization is still top heavy in academics, including those who represent companies.  I have by doubts, though, about how good the marketing is.  That's no insult to the people that do the actual marketing, either.  What has hampered DAC marketing in the past is engineers and academics overruling marketing plans and initiatives rather then let real marketers implement appropriately.

In the case of DesignCon, now in the hands of a company that calls itself a "marketing firm," We're going to see something completely different for the EDA world.  There will be no "nickel-and-diming" the organizers who are not dependent on the good graces of the powers that be.  We might even see a real combination of the embedded and EDA worlds in a common location with systems people at the wheel, rather than chip people.

We might see DAC return to its roots as a strictly academic event, held over a couple of days at a hotel.  I don't think that would be a bad thing.  And I see this news today as a very good thing for everyone