Altium’s Vision of the Future, featuring Ted Pawela, COO [OnTrack Podcast]

Altium’s Vision of the Future, featuring Ted Pawela, COO [OnTrack Podcast]


Hi everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast thanks for joining us again. Today I have a rare
treat for you, but before we get started I’d like to invite you to please
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and go under videos and you’ll see all the podcasts recorded in video. I’d also
like to invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn I share lots of information
to engineers and PCB designers and I’d love to connect with you there as
well and on Twitter, I’m @AltiumJudy so today I have the rare treat of
inviting in one of our esteemed executives; I esteem you Ted. So Ted
Pawela is with us today he is the COO here at Altium and we’re going to talk
a lot about the direction of Altium and really kind of get a peek behind the
curtain. So I’m excited to share him with you, so Ted, welcome. Thanks Judy I
appreciate you having me on here and I’m actually really excited about the the
podcast series that you’re doing and see a lot of the feedback from people and
it’s a little bit humbling to be here given the actual, you know, the
magnitude of the guests that you’ve had here from industry and so forth so I’m
not sure I can live up to that but I’ll do my very best. Well I think you rank but it’s not we’re
glad to have you. So before we get started I thought it’d be fun for the
audience know a little bit about your engineering background. so you haven’t
always dwelled in the halls of the executive world you kind of came up
through engineering so tell us a little bit about your background there? That’s
true it’s probably not a very prototypical upbringing into the industry and so forth but I actually I started my… I
guess you could say my engineering career back in sort of like the education space
my undergraduate degree was actually in Ocean Engineering, so, and the the
interesting thing I think about ocean engineering and Altium is that ocean
engineering is one of those disciplines or one of those engineering fields
that’s that is multidisciplinary in nature so it doesn’t focus only on
mechanical or only on physics or any given thing but it’s actually very
multidisciplinary in fact like when I think back on it I did a thesis project
that was to create an underwater acoustic transponder system and which
sounds pretty fancy but it was basically a device where you could send acoustic
signals underwater to tell this device to do something in this case it was to
release a buoy from the bottom that had a rope tied to it it might be attached
to an anchor or something else you might want to recover and that system we had
to actually design the electronics as well as the mechanical system it all had
to work underwater so so I think back on that a lot because you know,
following that I spent a lot of time more in a kind of mechanical domains and
so this in some ways as a homecoming for me right to come back to., you know, to be
at Altium and be involved in electronics but that, so that was kind of the
beginning. I worked in the underwater defense industry for 10 or 11 years as a
real engineer doing actual design work and at that time I wasn’t really focused
on electronics but more in the worlds of underwater acoustics and mechanical
systems and how those converged so they’re kind of different kinds of
physics different equations that you have to solve and so I spent a lot of
time trying to make those two things mathematically work together and then
from there I actually ended up, because I was working with software, and in this
case it was Ansys software and, and actually Abacus software that, at the
time you know, has now become Somalia over at TISOL, but I was working with
those two softwares which are simulation softwares in the mechanical
world and I was presenting at conferences and things like that and I
had the opportunity actually to join Ansys and I did so, and that kinda took me from that world of, you know, that world of, you know, real hardcore engineering into the software side of the business and and I loved that and you know I’ve now been at
a number of software companies all engineering software companies, and it’s
become you know, something that I have a passion for, and that I really
enjoy and love and and feel, you know really fortunate to have found my way to
Altium. Well we’re glad to have you you’ve definitely been a change agent
here for good and I what I really love about Altium and I think that you
appreciate it like I do, is if you walk through these halls very long here at
the La Jolla office there really is a lot of people that have kind of that
cross-disciplinary feel or… but we really do advocate and care about the engineer
and that sounds kind of corny. Yeah… but I think because there are lots of
people even like myself that were in fabrication or you know where I was
selling and sort of in the weeds It makes me feel excited to come to work a
morning and to be able to advocate and to help enable, sort of the next
generation of technology, and be part of that so… Yeah, I’m excited about that as
well and I think you know, fundamentally it comes down to this sort of basic
notion that’s independent of any industry is that if you do the right
thing for your customers and you really think about them, that they do good
things by you as well and and so I think you know we get that here yeah
from the top of the organization through to the you know through and across all
places in the organization and and definitely that is kind of a cultural
element here that I both appreciate and you know I’m kind of committed to
perpetuating and extending as much as we can.
Well a fun note here, is that Ted actually hired me into the organization. That’s true… and he was I actually reported direct to him when I first joined and I – I think we
really resonated on that note, and that really, Ted’s really been the empowering
force behind everything that I do here personally at Altium. So I really
appreciate this podcast, the newsletter AltiumLive, so we’ve had a blast doing
some of that stuff and doing things really with with the designer and
engineer mind. So that’s been fun – well to your point I think that’s a good
jumping-off point what we wanted to talk about today is Altium’s identity, you
know. What from your perspective, what is it that Altium stands for? So, I think,
you said it, maybe in different words at the beginning of this and I think Altium stands for the engineer, for the designer, for the people who actually
have to do the work. And I think that’s – it’s one of the things that makes
us different from other software companies so we’re not really thinking
about things like you know how do we, typical things that I’ve seen in other
companies, like how do we sell higher into organizations? How do we get, you know,
executives to buy in so that we can do kind of you know top-down we can get
top-down decisions to standardize on our software and things like that. The thing
about – that I really noted about Altium – and the culture of doing business and
working with people here, is that it’s really focused on that. The guy who’s got
to do the work. And and I think you know so largely I believe that’s the thing
that we, that we really stand for and you’ll probably remember that… you know, I
tell the story to a lot of people and pretty frequently, about when I came here
you know, trying to uncover what I felt was or what was the fundamental kind of
characteristics of Altium’s brand and it’s identity and, and it kind of rooted
in a discussion I had with one of our board members David Warren, who since
retired, but but David was one of the, you know, first couple of guys into the
company and when they started the company it wasn’t, it wasn’t a company
yet, it was actually a couple of guys who are trying to build electronics. And at
the time, and this goes back 30 years or so. You know CAD software, E-CAD software in particular, it existed but it was really
expensive. It only ran on expensive high-end computers and I think, nobody in
the room, yourself included may remember those days but I remember those days
when we had to buy you know Apollo workstations and big expensive machines
yes you know that $50,000 in back – this was back in the 80s – yeah that was your
barrier to entry so it was a lot of money and a lot of people who were
involved in design didn’t have access to that they didn’t have those budgets.
Right. And so, and these two guys were among those. And they actually set out to
say, how could we – how could we have software like that for ourselves? Well
they decided to create it, and they wanted to create it in a way that it
would be accessible not just for themselves but for anybody who needed it
so they built it to run on on PCs and that was the genesis of Altium right
that there were people out there who were doing and trying to do amazing
things in the world of technology and engineering who didn’t have access to
all the tools and they wanted to provide that access for themselves, and for
others, and you know for me, and for the company I mean that’s really a core part of what we stand for, you know, be for the engineer but make that technology
accessible and make it accessible to people who need it, even when they don’t
have big budgets to work with, sometimes they don’t have any budgets to work with.
So that, to me that’s really, what Altium stands for. Yeah I think we have the
best sort of origin story ever, especially because Dave Warren, at the
time was – I believe he was teaching at University – he said to me once that there was all these young passionate people that have
these great ideas and no access and so there was he was kind of incensed by
that and that sort of, filtered and still sort of lives in this company, this
feeling of anyone – anyone who needs a tool should have it. Because you can have
a great idea at any age, at any phase so let’s give them tools. And I really love
that, that really has it’s lasted long past the time that Dave Warren and these
two guys sort of kicked this company off it’s really persisted and I really I
really like that.
Yeah, I think it’s not just persisted because it’s in the
spirit of the employees who work here and everything, but I can tell you that we
make our decisions on that basis. I mean the basis of, kind of being true to
what we represent, and so we think about that. We think about, you know, who are the
underdogs, and how do we empower them? And and not, kind of like leave them behind,
in pursuit of purely, you know, making money in business and we you know we are a business; we’re a commercial business, and and of course we want to make money
our shareholders expect us to make money and, on the other hand we think that
there’s many ways to do that. And you know, everyone may know, you know we have multiple products and kind of like multiple price points that’s one way. But
we also try to do, to think out of the box a little bit and so you know as an
example; we have, I guess you know, one of our brands called Octopart where
people can go and search for parts and so forth, and you know, you can do that as
an engineer and you don’t pay to use that you it’s actually kind of a seller
pays model right? Right, so when somebody buys parts after they’ve searched
throughout the part and you know we may get a small fraction of that revenue, or
people advertise on that site and we get a little bit of revenue from that, but we don’t have to charge it to the user and we think about – that’s an
example – but we are always thinking about how do we take a product like Upverter
for example, that actually was, before we acquired it, they you know, they charged a
subscription fee we made it free, with the intent that we
would find ways to kind of indirectly monetize that in a in a seller pays kind
of model right because we want to make that technology accessible to the you
know to the maker community, to the kind of inventors and creators of tomorrow
who who don’t have money today. So you know, it’s like I said, it’s a core part
of the decision-making process here; is how do we stay true to that vision of
making technology accessible to everyone? Yeah, it’s just so refreshing to hear from an
executive a software company I think – you know – it’s not something I think you hear
a lot, like money does lead in many cases, but it’s clear to me that there’s a a
guiding principle behind that. That of course you have to be disciplined and
answer to stockholders and do all those things, but you can do that in fresh and
new ways and… That’s the key, right because I think you know again we we
want it we need to be a sustainable business or else the technology that we
provide you know we won’t be here right in ten years or something and of course
we don’t want that to happen, no more podcast it’d be sad, [laughter]. Right but there are, you know, interesting and different ways you can do it it requires
that you maybe, you know, are willing to think outside of the conventional wisdom
or the best practices and so forth and… And that’s one of the things that I like
about Altium, is that we really do try to break those… mmm… norms and – yeah -and you know, think about how we can do it differently and just
don’t accept status quo. Don’t accept best practice just because that’s the
way it’s always been done.
Well to me, it’s innovation and – yeah – and we try to
build innovation into our software all the time, so we’re building innovation
into our model too which I really love. So what would you say. do we would you
say we have a defined mission? I mean, beyond what you kind of spelled out, so that bit like an actual defined mission? Oh absolutely,
so I think everyone at Altium, you know, we’ve refined this thinking in the way
that we articulate it internally, but if you were to look at the things that we
present externally, like when we do go to shareholder meetings, and in particular,
we do a technology day to our Investor Community and we’ve done it the last
several years in Australia and that kind of you can see the presentations on the
web and and so forth, but that’s a real clue for anybody who really wants to
know where Altium is going. If you’d look at those things directionally that gives
you a lot of guidance and the thing that we say over and over and over again is
that it’s our mission to transform the electronics industry. And specifically,
what I mean by that, is that you know, that creating electronics is more than
just about the design process and the design tools and and so there’s what I
would I would kind of call it a value chain that’s involved right, you have
people who think about the product and what’s the intent of the product
and that kind of like breaks down into requirements for mechanical systems, for
electronic systems, and and all of that. But even then, the job’s not over, because
there have to be components that are supplied to that or that are selected
from that and then you know found and acquired there has to be a board that
gets manufactured; the bare board. There has to be the assembly and fabrication
of the full, you know, system level board and everything and sometimes it’s
multiple boards, and then it’s all got to be put together and so the jobs not
really done until everybody does that and the thing that is sort of striking
about the electronics industry, is that that’s a really discontinuous process,
you know we kind of like, all think within our sort of, domains with
our blinders on and we believe that you know, it’s our…
it’s gonna sound a little silly – but it’s you know, it’s our self-directed
destiny to kind of change that that’s what we want to do so the mission of the
company is to really change to transform the way that electronics are
conceived, designed, manufactured and you know delivered to the world, and we
think there’s lots of opportunities to do that a lot better.
Well I know personally, a lot of people have asked me about,why are you buying these… you know, how does… why? I remember Happy Holden last year saying; Upverter? And so it’s
because they think of us primarily as just a CAD provider right?
Right. And so I think not a lot of people understand that we have our sights set
much higher than that along those lines I’d like to dig into that a little bit
more. But before we do that, we are sort of – AltiumLive will be here in San Diego
in October, and we will be, at least doing a marketing release then, of showing what
will be in Altium Designer 19.
We will. And you mentioned to me that I had kind
of thought – even just working here – you’re down the hall for me but I really my
impression was that Altium 19 was going to be sort of an iterative release and
that you know all team designer 18 was massive we changed the platform, we
really revolutionized the tool in so many ways so I thought well we’re going
to catch our breath, add a few little bells and whistles and be on our way
down the road, but you’re telling me no it’s going to be big. So, can you
without giving away the secret sauce, tell us a little bit about sort of the
intent?
Yeah well, so I mean there’s things that are still you know forming
it’s kind of like the cake is still in the oven baking right now, so not necessarily ready to share a lot of detail but here’s what I will tell you
about that. First of all you’re right, Altium
Designer 19, you know it’s not – just another release, just like 18 wasn’t
just another release and, in fact, if I shorten it just for the sake of
simplicity, AD, AD18, AD19 and, AD20 are are really a set of releases that are
that are linked together. in a fundamental way, and so what we
wanted to do with that series of releases was in part, it kind of gets to
this thing that I was talking about kind of, this idea of transforming
the electronics industry and specifically what we wanted to do with
AD18, 19 and 20, was to deliver incremental PCB design capabilities that
would take us to places we hadn’t been before so, and specifically into high
speed design. Historically… you know… Yay! my favorite subject I know you have lots of time
invested into that you know segments of the industry and know lots of people
there and and we think that’s important that we can do better to support that
and AD18, 19, and 20, you know that was one of the core kind of objectives there
was to help Altium to kind of grow up in terms of high speed design
capabilities. But it wasn’t something that… I mean it’s kind of massive, and
it’s, in terms of being able to do it, so it wasn’t something we were able to
deliver in a single release right in fact when I think about high speed
design specifically AD18 was kind of like delivering foundational
capabilities that are required to do the kind of complex and large designs that
typically we see in high speed. Right. So you didn’t see particular high speed
capabilities there, not big ones yet, anyways in AD18 but what you did see
was that we moved from our old 32-bit platform to 64-bit. Right. We went from
single threaded activity to multi-threaded within the application, and things like that that are kind of the plumbing… Yeah, it’s like the foundation… That’s right, they need to be there for us to be able to exercise those high-speed capabilities that we wanted to build in with AD19
you’ll start to see more of the capabilities now coming out. It won’t be
complete but there will certainly be designs in the realm of high speed that
people will start to be able to do and it’ll become visible that that we’re
really going somewhere with that and then AD20, will be the one where, we you
know, move a lot towards a more completed set of capabilities for high speed. So
that’s one sort of key thing that I would say is that you know certainly at
AltiumLive, and as we come out with AD19 you will see real capabilities that
start to bring us into that world. The other thing though, is making real this
idea of beginning to bring about industry transformation, and specifically
you know, even AltiumLive last year one of the things we heard over and
over again in the talks was people in who were in board fabrication and
assembly and manufacturing and who think about you know DFM and things like that,
who you know, we’re saying over and over and over again you guys out there in the
design community don’t think about us I know manufacturing world early enough
than often enough and and and conversely you know we heard from people on the
design side saying you know kind of similar things back to manufacturing so
those two worlds have been you know historically siloed, as you said.
It comes up, I cannot tell you how often this comes up in this podcast series
it’s just a persistent problem, everybody knows it’s there.
Yeah it is a huge problem and I think in one of the things
that I’m really excited about with AD19 is that you’re going to see some you’re
gonna see some things that are fairly dramatic in terms of helping to bring
those two worlds together to where people who are doing design will be in
contact with people who are involved in manufacturing while they’re designing.
And you know, the ultimate endgame for that is that you know you would imagine
a world where when you are doing design you don’t only have design constraints
to think about but the manufacturing constraints are things that guide what
you can and can’t do and how you create that so that you avoid those you know
kind of like downstream… not exactly mistakes but those downstream things
that you didn’t think about that cause design turn backs and spends that are
really not needed. Right they’re not needed and cost so much money and time. Yes so, so AD19 is going
to be, I think really it’s gonna be really impactful and kind of
transformative in the way that design and designers and people in the
manufacturing side of the business will be able to work together. So I don’t want
to spill too much of that but it’s gonna be I honestly think this is you know in
many ways a bigger more transformative thing than AD18 was which was
pretty huge, for us at least, in seeing our tool transform.
When you said that to me I’m like: wait what? I was shocked when you said that to me about a week ago I was like wait I work
here and I don’t know and I talked to developers regularly and I think because
I get just little glimpses of pieces I’m not seeing the overarching where I think
you from where you sit, you’re getting the overarching perspective.
Maybe so, but like I said, I think the key thing here is it will really be something that
changes the way that it changes the way we think about CAD and what we should
expect from our CAD tools. Which is great; I’ve said for many years, that the power
of CAD has actually been problematic, because, if you are not you know, 30-40
years into this industry you can get so much power in that tool. It’s like, I was
saying to someone, I go: there needs to be a feedback from the tool that says, no
stop dummy, you know. Like there is no place that says, no stop, this is
a bad idea right those cores don’t match. Those holes are too small
those vias are… you know. There’s you know, of course we can put in you know
parameters and things that help them design well but there’s… so to hear
that coming together would just be life-changing, so that’s very exciting.
Yeah, and like I said, it’s not something that I I think we won’t realize that
full vision of AD19. Right. It’ll be, you know, that again this combination of 18
19 and 20 you’ll be able to see now with AD19, how those things kind of link
together and we’ll be telling people we’ll disclose our road map for AD20, so
people can see how that whole thing plays out but there’s gonna be a lot
there and it will be enough to change the way that designers and manufacturers
are working together. It will, you know change more well it’ll changing them in even more
dramatic ways as we are able to deliver everything through those three releases.
Right. But there’s gonna be enough there that I think it’s really exciting to
think about and talk about and you know… I guess, the other thing for me, or maybe
not the other thing – but on a related note I remember last year at AltiumLive
how all those conversations seem to be centered around standards. And so, you
know, couldn’t be out with like a single standard for how data is represented and
so forth and you know (that’s a hot topic) Standardization, I just have to say, I
mean standardization is such a hard thing to do to get everybody within an
industry to do that and you know I think the reality is that
standardization isn’t the answer the standardization is a solution that
people kind of assume is the right way to solve the problem, so they…
and so we tend to kind of like think about how. First you know, how could
we solve this problem if the problem is that people just don’t work together and
when I design I don’t end up with something that’s manufacturable until I
go through many spins, as an example that’s the problem right and then, the
solution is just to make it work right I mean as a designer or as for somebody in
manufacturing I don’t do I really care about
standardization? No, I don’t but what I wanted to have happen is that it just
works right and I don’t have to think about it I don’t have to do anything
extra nor does you know the person on the other side of the wall that we’re
throwing things back and forth over. We just want it to work. Right and
that’s the approach that we’re taking and and again you’ll see the it gets to
what you were saying you know why do we acquire these companies for example? Right.
So we did, just recently, a small acquisition of a company called PCB NG;
NG is for Next Generation and that’s all about that’s a company that does
board assembly manufacturing and they do it on small scale, so it’s the idea
that they do low-volume, high-variety kind of, high-mix kind of designs. So when
people want to build prototypes and so forth. And their whole mission has been
to really change, to be able to create a manufacturing line where the designers
can know everything about it so they kind of design in those constraints from
the start. Which is very aligned with the idea that I was talking about, and where
Altium has been thinking, and now if you rewind back you know a couple of years
ago we acquired a company called Siva and Siva was really focused on a couple
of things. One was to have a Bill of Material that was smarter, and smarter in
the sense that you understood straight away what was the life cycle state of the
components that you select. Right. And the parts that you select – are those things
even available anymore? So you don’t use so you don’t select and design in things
that you couldn’t even buy if you wanted to. Right.
And then there’s the notion…
which happens frequently by the way.
-it does happen frequently right…
And it’s such a headache.
And in Siva you know, the
other thing that they were really focused on was to understand those
manufacturing constraints as well and so there’s kind of this nice convergence of
thinking where the Siva guys were trying to solve that problem PCB & G-guys were trying to solve that problem, and Altium is
trying to solve that problem, and so bringing them all together now gives us
the way you know a way that we can say, how do we make it just work and so
having that small manufacturing company gives us a way that we can prove this
out we can make it happen having sort of like full access to
everything in that facility and on their line and as well having the people on
the side of thinking about the supply chain in the Bill of Material and the
design side. We can do all of those things and so we don’t intend to kind of
like make PCBNG into some big volume manufacturer. It’s never gonna be Foxcon,
what we want it to be but we want to make it just work and once we prove it
there, then we can take it to all manufacturers. Right.
And that’s the idea
and and so we’ll again, start to give you a glimpse of that, and more than a
glimpse, we’ll give actual real capabilities at AD19 that
will allow people to begin to solve that problem or, not even salvage, just just
make it work.
Right just make it work. So so AD19 in my mind is, is a
huge step forward.
Well I’m very excited so I’m gonna put a pin in our
conversation real quick and just let our listeners know that, all of… you know,
sometimes people just think of us being the creators of Altium Designer and
don’t realise we sort of have been acquiring these companies so we will
have an area at AltiumLive in San Diego and in Munich if you’re able to
join us, where all of those brands will be joining us. I’m hoping to put them in
an area that I’m calling Altium Alley, so we’ll have Upverter, Siva, the PCBNG, and so, we can start to see how this all fits together.
Yeah.
So I’m excited about that So let’s talk a little bit about AltiumLive, since we are rolling out AD19 at that time, at least to give a sneak
peak of it. You and I worked very closely together and sort of had a
shared passion for the idea – it was Altium Live, our first ever users’ conference was
really Ted’s brainchild and then, I was brought on board and then we worked
closely together and then it took a village – it took an Altium village to put on that users conference so can we talk a
little bit about why AltiumLive, why do we decide, as a company to begin doing
a users’ conference, and sort of what, what is our intention behind that? Because we
want to sell more software? [Laughter]
Well of course we want we always want to sell
more software.
Of course we do, there’s no doubt about that…
I’m obviously being very facetious.
-yeah but if but if I come back to the beginning of our of our conversation, you
know I mentioned this notion that if you do the right thing for your customers
that that you know that they support you and and good things happen as a
result of that and and I think, you know AltiumLive is you know, it’s really built on that idea. So we wanted to create a forum in which you know, our
our users, but more than that, people in the industry could come together to kind
of talk about and collaborate on how do we solve the challenges that we that we
face as an industry. So the fact that we had manufacturers there and
manufacturer’s reps and everything else as well as… you know, so these are
people that don’t know Altium Designer if they if they saw it they wouldn’t
know whether it was Altium Designer or another tool per se…
Right.
-possibly but but they’re involved in the industry and and they’re relevant right, to the way
that we do design and so forth. As well as all the design people. So we wanted a
place where our users could come and they could learn and they could get
better at their craft and they could connect with one another so – I think
Judy you came up with the idea – that it was about you know, connect, learn and
inspire… Right.
-and and that’s really the idea right I mean in terms of connect
it’s always good to be able to meet your peers, to talk with your peers, who you
face you know, common challenges with and talk about how do you overcome
those, how do you approach them, how does your company support you in those things.
Those are always really valuable conversations and so that’s I think what
the connect part is all about. Learning is is pretty obvious, people always want
to learn how do I, how do I get better and that’s both in terms of using tools
but more than that, it’s you know, the becoming better as an engineer so a lot
of the curriculum, if you will, that was associated with that and in the
sessions that we had they weren’t about how do I use Altium Designer how do I
solve these challenges from an engineering perspective
Right what are better routing practices… Right, Sense Tools, and Toolspeak are specific tools,
because it’s like how do I do these things so the learning part of it was
really important and and inspire, you know, obviously if we’re going to
transform the industry we want to bring together the people, the stakeholders in
the industry, who are likewise you know, facing these bigger challenges, not just
how do I design better, but how do I design in a way that I know it can be
manufactured and and that manufacturers don’t have to go back and you know,
completely recast the Bill of Materials and force me to change the design and
and how do I you know ensure that these parts are actually available and all of
that but but it’s really again about inspiring the community to think about
how we solve these problems of the industry that the fact that it’s you
know it is sort of discontinuous in terms of that flow and so forth and
we’ve got a lot of ideas at Altium about how we solve that, but we
definitely don’t have all the answers and and nor would we want to try to
solve those in absence of all the thought leaders and and practitioners in
the industry right. So I think that’s the third part of it is really to
bring together those, you know, leading practitioners and thought leaders from
the industry to say, how do we take this, how do we take our whole industry
forward in a way that I… don’t want this to sound a little too trivial but, you know we talk about IoT how do we
deliver 50 billion devices by 2025 or whatever…
Right, whatever those numbers are
-but you know, I think that there’s you know, there’s lots of
places where electronics are important even in absence of IoT, but the smarter
we make our world, the better that’s going to be, the more ability we have to
solve some of the big picture problems in the world using electronics and
engineering and so forth and that’s only going to happen when we all come
together to to figure out how do we do all this better and more effectively.
I love the convergence at our event it was like magical to see – and such
spirited conversations – between fabricators and even our keynotes right.
I remember one of the keynotes in Munich saying something about
fabrication and then our friend Julie Els is like, wait a minute you know, and then
having this really honest challenging almost debate right, but it was so
beneficial. I think everybody was really, I think empowered, by having really
those frank conversations and really learning from each other. You know a
thing that I really like Ted, is that if you look across North America at least,
well I would even say Europe, how many events are there for designers? I mean
for printed circuit board designers or engineers already what events are out
there? We have PCB West which has some good tracks, Design Con is chip and board
level, PCB Carolinas I can think, Electronica, Embedded World… so there’s
just a handful, but is there any that just focuses and kind of exclusively
puts the designer front and center? No, they’re kind of lost -they don’t really have a place and what I love
about AltiumLive, is that gets to be sort of the center of the conversation
but shoulder to shoulder with all the other stakeholders right so it’s like
they get their own party you know where they can just dig in and get such deep
learning not only from really incredible thought leaders like our keynotes but
also from each other.
Right, we saw that happening a lot right then, and now
you can see it just if you go even on the website for AltiumLive and you look at last year’s recorded sessions and so forth you see
that pretty clearly. It was pretty striking, and you know, my hope is
that over time people will actually start to see this event as something
that’s not it’s not an Altium event it’s their event.
Right.
And and that’s the spirit behind it frankly is that you that, you know, the same as with you know
products, and solving these problems that everything we can’t there’s no way that
Altium can do it on its own or any one company could on its own. We have to
do it as a community so I really I see AltiumLive as a community and I hope
it grows and I hope that the control of the agenda and the content and all of
that kind of stuff stays with the stays with the users the designers and
the people in the industry who are actually doing the work. That’s my vision for it, that it’s not us and it’s not about our software right it’s really
just about us using the fact that we have lots of customers and users and so
forth as a as a way to, you know, using our position to help bring them together.
Right, absolutely, and you know I’ve shared with people that you don’t need
to be an Altium user to come to this event.
No that’s true…
and it’s like no one really believes that but it really is true. You could come using another mainstream tool and you would have to endure us rolling out the new release of
Altium Designer for 45 minutes… Right.
– you know other than that, you will
just be getting good learning, meeting with other designers so…
Yeah if I go by memory right, we have something in the order of, I don’t know, a dozen main stage
presentations or so, and of those, two of them were by Altium people.
Right.
And the rest were not. We had probably, I think two dozen, actual learning sessions
that were you know, kind of focused on training and developing skills and so
forth and of those, I think maybe four or so we’re really focused on Altium
Designer and sure we could show what we typically did was show you know how
after you spent the bulk of the time learning how you attack a problem you’d
show how that could be done in Altium Designer, but it wasn’t about solving it
with Altium Designer, it was about solving it so, and I’m frankly, I’m kind of
like proud of that and proud we didn’t make it a place where you just you know come and
hear about Altium and we market to you, and sell to you and so forth it’s not
about that.
Well you really are the champion of that and I am your proud
sidekick in that regards because honestly I didn’t know any company would
let somebody like me, do this, but it’s being driven from the top so I love that,
that you’re you’re kind of jealously holding on to that you know. This is
about community right dang it – so for those of you who are listening, please know that you are welcome to join us at AltiumLive 2018 in San Diego October 3rd
through 5th, and the website is up registration’s open, and because the
attendees asked us to last year, we’ve added a full universities day, where
there’s more tool training because people actually complained a little bit
that we didn’t train them enough on our tool. So kudos to us, but we again, didn’t
want to mingle that into our main program, so we set aside a hundred –
hundred sixty spots on the front end where we will teach you in the tool, and
keep the rest of it rather tool agnostic and then also in parallel are friendly
Ritchie has agreed to teach a full day on high speed design which will be a real treat. And all of this, the price is silly-low,
and it’s in beautiful San Diego so there’s just no downside to it as far as
I can see so we’re all looking forward to seeing you there.
Absolutely.
I wrote a note here Ted, and I’m just gonna ask you about it and we may have already covered
it but you had mentioned something to me about AltiumX was that about the
transformation part our x-factor? Well that’s a little bit of a, little bit of
an internal code name, right now for the the projects surrounding this connection
between Altium Designer 19 and manufacturing…
Okay.
-so we’ve kind of covered and so it won’t you won’t see a product called
AltiumX, but yeah, you know as often happens when, when products and
projects kind of come to life, we don’t they don’t have a brand associated with
them and we look for you know clever little ways to talk about them
internally before we know that, that people can kind of rally around and know, you
know, what we’re talking about and AltiumX was that, well for this project
at least, for a while and you know we’ve talked about different ways to to brand
it and talk about it and so forth but it’s really the key thing is it’s a part
of Altium Designer this isn’t gonna be a separate product and actually I
will say that that’s one of the things that’s interesting and and I think
valuable about Altium Designer, is that it’s always been this idea of that it’s
not kind of like module, by module, by module, but it’s one thing that gives you
the capabilities that you need and where there are exceptions it’s because we, you
know, we have partners involved and they need to know how much of their product is going on, and so forth but largely if it’s Altium you know, if it’s things that
we develop internally, we make it a part of that product so it’s really simple to
to to know what it is you want you want that one thing Altium Designer it’s
really simple to buy it there’s one price and it’s hopefully really simple
to to work with us, and do business with us and in that notion, that you know, we call it easy-to but that’s you know, when you get to the
spirit of Altium, and and our identity and everything, I think that’s another
piece of it that I didn’t talk about before, but it’s another part of what
we think is really important, is that we just make it easy for people to, to know
what they’re dealing with, who they’re dealing with and how they how they work
with us and so forth. Even how they use the product, you know, try to
work hard to make everything easy to do Right, and I think we’re living up to
that we’re not perfect we’ve got lots of growing to do… That’s true.
Always but when I, because I have the privilege of sponsoring teams and different things as
part of my job. Often people will come to me and go, oh my gosh! This was so easy to install it only took me… I was up and running in an hour instead of half a day
or whatever, so I I sort of hear that feedback so makes me proud to be part of
this team. So Ted, thanks so much, I know you’re such a busy guy and you’re
spinning a few dozen plates at all times so, thanks for taking the time to sit down
with us and share with the people who are listening to podcast.
Well, thanks for giving me the chance to do that and I hope that, I hope that I, you know was
able to give enough insight and something interesting and exciting for
people to think about. Love to have people come to AltiumLive and hear,
hear more about what we’re doing and also hear from their peers in the in the
community but, like I said we’re really excited about kind of the journey that
we’re on. This whole transformation of electronics and we are now starting to
feel like we can, we’re starting to see light at the end of that tunnel and
we’ve got a long ways to go but there’s enough light there that I think with AD19 and AltiumLive that’s gonna really start to be exposed in ways that
will, stop people in their tracks, and so I’m excited about that.
I’m so excited about that and I can’t even know about some of this stuff you
guys do, so we’ll all learn together I guess at AltiumLive so, I hope you will join us
thank you so much for listening to our podcast. I do encourage you to register
for AltiumLive, coming up in October in San Diego we should be in Munich, I
believe the mid-January. We’re just locking that down now, so bear with us
while we get that locked down. And remember, whether you use our tools or
not, you’re more than welcome and we would love to have you just join us
and rub shoulders and be part of the community. So thank you, again Ted, for
joining us today. And thank you for listening, or watching, and we look
forward to being with you next time until then always stay on track.

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