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Design007-Mar2020

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14 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 Shaughnessy: You worked for some other com- panies before you started Wild River. Did you always want to start your own company? Neves: One of the compelling reasons I start- ed my own high-tech company was although I was rated as one of the company's best en- gineers, my interpersonal skills and likability were not rated as high as my technical skills (laughs). Again, management would say, "This project isn't going very well, and they're not motivated. You're the lead person. What are you doing about it?" I'd say, " I think we need new management. You are completely incom- petent and show a lack of leadership. While we worked all weekend, you were off skiing. You make twice as much money as we do, and you're overly compensated. We don't see that you're really part of the solution, and when employees needed help for buying certain cap- ital equipment, you weren't there. You're not doing your job." Shaughnessy: It sounds like you wanted to tell the manager, "Sorry, but we're going to have to let you go." Neves: For a while, I was trying to figure out why I kept getting fired and laid off because my reviews all said, "He's one of the best en- gineers and gets a lot of work done." One man pulled me aside and said, "You might want to think about starting your own company." I lis- tened to him. Shaughnessy: How long ago did you start Wild River? Neves: We started the company nine years ago. Right now, we're viral in the amount of busi- ness that we have. We're one of two companies that consistently do first-spin 50 gigahertz, and we typically take another spin to do 70. Very few companies are constantly doing 70 giga- hertz designs. Next year, we're looking at going to 90 and 100 gigahertz. Shaughnessy: What's your technology cutoff for accepting a job? 112-gig test vehicles, and the test boards are difficult. You have to do things early, manage the project carefully, and engage in systematic design. Shaughnessy: Planning ahead is a big part of it, especially for cutting-edge designs. Neves: Absolutely. Let's say you wanted to climb Mount Everest. That's a daunting endeavor. You may go to the general area of Nepal and hang out at 7,000 feet. Next, you may want to go to base camp, which is around 14,000 feet, and you'll stay there for weeks or a month. Then, you set up a series of camps up the mountain to help mitigate your risk. You're climbing the mountain in a very systematic way, which re- duces your risk, and you can acclimate to the problem. That's how advanced signal integrity is; you have to acclimate to the problem. That's my idea of designing for profitability. If you embark on a project and don't know what you're doing, you delay the silicon in the mar- ketplace, have a lot of people running around like crazy, and have to spend a lot. There's nothing more costly. Shaughnessy: Without a good process, you're going to have problems. Neves: Sure. And you know what a champion is? The person who brings you in and says, "We should do business with this company and here's why." In any type of business en- vironment, there's a champion. The champion wants me to be the junkyard dog who commu- nicates to the management on what the chal- lenges are and how they need to change their process. In my company, I manage teams of people. When things go wrong, it's easy to beat on peo- ple and point fingers. It's a difficult thing to say, "I have to figure out how to help them and what process issues contributed to this." Often, it's a process issue that relates back to the leadership of the company or the person who's defining that, and they get caught into this. A lot of the profitability issues are management and leader- ship issues.

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