the business of cad


Issue #765 |  February 12, 2013
<  Previous Issue | Current Issue Online | Next Issue>


In This Issue


1. Venture Capitalist Buys Up CAM

   - The Future by Battery


2. Out of the Inbox, our other regular columns.



Venture Capitalist Buys Up CAM
One of the puzzlements of the CAM industry is it failure to conglomerize, as has the CAD industry. An oligopoly of a half-dozen firms takes in the bulk of CAD revenues today: Dassault Systemes, Autodesk, Siemens AG, Nemetschek, Hexagon, PTC, and 3D Systems. In their struggle to grow in this mature market, they acquired competitors and fill-in firms to broaden their software and service offerings.


Not so in CAM, which is owned by a huge number of proudly-independent "mom and pop" firms active since the 1980s, and who have been successful in resisting take-over offers. (I'm assuming there were some).


Until now. The change in the air is due to two factors: (a) the moms and pops are reaching retirement age and (b) equity fund firm Battery Ventures has decided that CAM is an attractive area for profit.


"Luxembourg"-based Battery in September 2010 bought Vero Holdings with $50 million borrowed from HSBC bank. The aim of the venture capitalists is to consolidate European CAM vendors in a market it describes as "mature and fragmented," "a great opportunity," and worth $1 billion apparently. It put one of its own executives, Richard Smith, in charge as CEO of Vero.


(Despite the venture capital firm boasting in its knowledge of software, its Vero Web page shows a 3D wireframe view of an apartment in blueprint style, embarrassingly enough -- not exactly CAM material. See http://www.battery.com/spotlight/company/vero-software-executive-in-residence-builds-dominant-cadcam-platform/)


Even prior to Battery's involvement, Vero was making acquisitions, and so now Battery has a large number of familiar brand names in its collection, such as Surfware, Planit, Pathtrace, Sescoi, Alphacam, Edgecam, Licom, Radan, Smirtware, Javelin, Machining Strategist, MCS (Manufacturing Control Solutions), Camtek, Studio 4, Visi, and NC Graphics.


Battery was not the first. Julian at Freesteel lists a complex web created earlier by August Equity of shell corporations and Planit, first owned by Velocity Holdings. See http://www.freesteel.co.uk/wpblog/2011/10/long-corporate-ownership-chain . Vero's most recent annual report indicates that revenue for 2011 was GBP21 million, about $31 million but that it has liabilities of GBP51 million, about $75 million -- mostly loans. (Yup, I read all 37 mind-numbing pages of it.)

The Future by Battery

Battery's plan is simple: build the dominant CAD/CAM platform, it says. I, however, doubt the CAD part of the dominance, and the CAM half seems dubious if the firm concentrates on Europe only. An industry watcher tells me that he guesses the next country to be targeted by Battery will be CAM vendors in Japan.


So what's the future plan? Venture capitalists buy up firms they consider undervalued, rightsize them, and then sell them. They make their profit by selling turned-around companies, not by running it.


The question becomes, "Who is a likely buyer of this massive collection of European CAM software?"



"We expect to have 50% customer adoption by end it out calendar year - not by now. We're at roughly 20% now. To further clarify the math, Jim was talking about adoption to Creo 2.0 – which was announced (and available) in April. Thus, that product has only been on the market for about 10 months, during which time we've seen the 20% adoption. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that we could see another 20-30% adoption over the next 10 months."

     - Julie Blake, PTC


== Professional 3D File Conversion/Viewing/Rendering Software ==


For over 2 decades Okino (Toronto) has provided mission-critical 3D conversion software used extensively by tens of thousands of professionals. We develop, support and convert between all major CAD, DCC & VisSim formats. Robert Lansdale (CTO, lansd@okino.com) tailors each package to the specific conversion requirements of each customer.

Popular formats include 3ds Max, Maya, C4D, LW, ProE, SolidWorks, Inventor, SketchUp, DWF/DWG, DGN, CATIA, IGES/STEP/Parasolid, 3D PDF/U3D, JT, FBX, Collada & more. We know data translation, and provide immaculate developer-to-customer relations.


Out of the Inbox

Siemens PLM Software releases updates to four D-Cubed components: 3D Dimensional Constraint Manager, Collision Detection Manager, Hidden Line Manager, and Assembly Engineering Manager. Some of the functions in version 46 include a new reflection transform for hidden lines; and performance improvements for collision detection. http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/open/d-cubed/product_news/index.shtml


But now bad news for Siemens PLM. In a video uncovered by Matt Lombard , Dassault Systemes ceo told users in Korea that his company will drop Parasolid: "...we have announced clearly that SolidWorks will adopt the V6 technology everywhere, modeling included. We're going to drop Parasolid." http://www.dezignstuff.com/blog/?p=8353


Intergraph's CloudWorx for SmartPlant Isometrics 2012 R1 creates as-built piping isometrics directly from laser scan point clouds. http://www.intergraph.com/products/ppm/smartplant/isometrics/cloudworx/default.aspx


HP redesigns its HP Remote Graphics Software (for real-time collaboration between multiple users) by reducing the network bandwidth required. http://www.hp.com/go/RGS


Luxion releases KeyShot 4 with Live Linking to models in Creo, SolidWorks, and Rhinoceros. Any object can be turned in to a point, area or IES light source. Color libraries from Pantone and Ral are added. And lots more. http://www.keyshot.com


Nemetschek AG increases its yoy revenue for 2012 by 6.8% to e175.1 million, about $227 million. The company owns brand names like Vectorworks, Graphisoft, allplan, and Scia.

Notable Quotable

"The previous code was just really horrendous," Meeks said. "Dialogs were constructed and drawn by hand – in fact, not even by hand. Programmers just sort of entered random numbers to lay them out, and it really looked awful."
       - Michael Meeks, SUSE


upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by nearly 11,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at editor@upfrontezine.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.


To Subscribe

Send the message 'subscribe upfront' to subscribe@upfrontezine.com. All 700+ back issues at www.upfrontezine.com/welcome.htm.


Donations & Subscriptions

upFront.eZine is shareware. You receive this newsletter free. To support its publication, suggested one-time donations is US$25 or the equivalent in your country. If you prefer to pay an annual subscription fee of $25, you will be reminded each year around May 1.



-      PayPal - send payment to the account of grabowski@telus.net

-      Checks or money orders: 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.

-      Direct bank transfer: email for details.


Address Change

Send both your old and new email addresses to subscribe@upfrontezine.com.


To Unsubscribe

Send the message 'unsubscribe upfront' to editor@upfrontezine.com. I appreciate knowing reasons for unsubscribing.



US$680 per two weeks. Wanted ads by the unemployed are free. Other rates available. For more info, email advertise@upfrontezine.com.

- - -

Entire contents copyright 2013 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.


* 10978