Corporate media supplants independent journalism in semiconductor market

Corporate websites in the semiconductor industry provide the information that customers trust and go to, over the sites that identify themselves as “independent journalism.”

As I wrapped up the old year, a trend I’ve been watching since 2000 finally came to a conclusion: Media as we have defined it for the past 50 years is dead in the semiconductor industry.  It has been replaced by Corporations as Media.  0805wileycartoon3

Some may think the beginning of this trend was when Paul Miller, then CEO of UBM Tech, announced to the EDAC member meeting that EE Times was dropping coverage of the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry.  It really began in 2000 when the three large EDA companies — Synopsys, Mentor Graphics and Cadence — began slashing their advertising budgets with the express design to reduce the number of print pages in the robust media industry.  The plan was to limit the amount of “free PR” smaller companies were getting thanks to the advertising dollars from the big three.  This affected all of the electronics industry because, at the time, EDA companies wire pretty much the primary advertiser for all publications (semiconductor companies slashed ad budgets a decade before) 

The fatal blow was when John Blyler left Extension Media in the last quarter of 2014 to do his own thing, a la Ed Sperling and

Over the past 10 years, companies have been slowly developing and distributing their own content and, in fact, competing with independent media that remain dependent on sponsorships and advertising from the companies they compete with.  Looking at the worldwide ranking on Alexa shows that EE Times still leads in unique visits compared to the EDA companies, but not by much, even though EE Times actually provides more content on more industries than EDA.

Alexa Worldwide Rankings

  1. EETimes 31,399

  2. Cadence 39,964

  3. Mentor Graphics 51,088

  4. Synopsys 68,913

  5. SemiWiki 313.173

  6. EEJournal 435,641

  7. Semiengineering 648,837

  8. Chip Design 714,638


(Note: I also reviewed the rankings of Electronic Design and Electronic Products, but their coverage is broader than semiconductors and EDA and they ranked within spitting distance of EE Times)

Cadence comes in a solid second in the rankings, but note the places of the remaining players. leads that group, but at a far distant 4th place behind the corporate trailer, Synopsys.  But then, lets take a look at the US ranking where most of the world traffic comes from.

Alexa US Rankings

  1. Cadence 7,303

  2. EETimes 14,246

  3. Synopsys 26,404

  4. Mentor Graphics 29,405

  5. SemiWiki 101,181

  6. EEJournal 148,721

  7. Semiengineering 150,574

  8. Chip Design 329,445

Cadence tops EE Times by a clear margin, Synopsys sneaks by Mentor for third and the outliers stay in the same place… far in the back.

We should note that this is the measurement of “unique visits” which are actually meaningless.  It means that either a human being or a spiderbot grabbed a page listing on a search, not that they actually went to the site and looked at anything.  They are slightly more valuable in measuring the most important aspect of content: Engagement.  Looking at those numbers changes everything.

Alexa Page View Rankings

  1. Cadence 5.5

  2. Mentor Graphics 3.4

  3. Synopsys 3.2

  4. SemiWiki 1.9

  5. EETimes 1.9

  6. Semiengineering 1.7

  7. Chip Design 1.6

  8. EEJournal 1.3

Cadence leads the pack with an average of 5.5 pages viewed.  Those are real people looking at content, not just search terms.  Mentor and Synopsys are virtually tied. EE Times and SemiWiki are in a dead heat with 1.9 page views.  This is a crucial differentiator.  When people are looking for something specific, say an article about them, they will look at two pages.  The front page of the site and the link to the article.  These people are typically marketing, sales and C-Level executives.  When they get to a third page, they are more likely a customer.  Still, you could argue that the go to the article page and then to the corporate site via the link.  You might think that until you look at the most crucial measurement: Time spent on the site.

 Alexa Time Rankings

  1. Cadence 7.30

  2. Mentor Graphics 5.59

  3. Synopsys 4.58

  4. Chip Design 2.58

  5. Semiengineering 2.47

  6. SemiWiki 2.38

  7. EETimes 2.23

  8. EEJournal 1.43

 Cadence is a clear winner here.  Of the three corporate sites, they are the only one to employ a former journalist, Brian Fuller, as an editor in chief.  That decision has proven to be extremely valuable to Cadence when it comes to grabbing the attention of their customers.  Cadence even ranks bigger than its own customers, including ARM, TI and TSMC.

 Just to be fair, I also looked at several other ranking sites, including and However, outside of the three corporations and EETimes, none of the other sites had enough traffic to generate a ranking.

 So, what does this all mean?  Corporate websites in the semiconductor industry provide the information that customers trust and go to, over the sites that identify themselves as “independent journalism.”  The audience for those latter sites are primarily the people that pay them money to cover their news, not the customers the corporations want to reach. What is truly bizarre is that the data the corporations are gathering about these customers is not being measured or used as well as what the independent publications could do because the corporations are measuring data the same way as the publications publicly state.  The good stuff they keep to themselves as proprietary.

This doesn’t mean that the publications are not doing worthwhile work, but they are not reaching the people they hope and claim to reach and while corporations are reaching the customers, they are not giving them valuable information.  What to do about that problem is another issue for discussion.