Morning coffeeHappy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend, and forgot all about work. Let’s get caught up with recent news.

It’s the Economy …

The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were the engines of the world’s economic growth and a huge target of opportunity for our PLMish vendors. 2014 has been tough across the BRICs as growth declined in all four nations. The BBC says the overall economy in China slowed to 7.4% in the first three months of 2014, even as factory activity grew in May at its fastest pace this year. That 7.4% growth rate close to the target of 7.5% for the year but well off the pace of 2010, when the Chinese GDP grew at 10.4%. The Chinese government is stepping in, creating incentives to grow the economy that include tax breaks for small and medium-sized companies, and increased spending on China’s railway infrastructure (good news for Hexagon, which has noted problems here in the past).

The news from India is also gloomy because the manufacturing sector contracted at an annualized rate of 1.4% in the first three months of 2014. Brazil‘s level of business investment fell 2.1% in the same period, as high inflation and interest rates near 11% caused companies to hold off or look elsewhere. Finally, Russia is a big unknown right now as the ripple effects its incursion into Ukraine still need to play out. A report from Morgan Stanley says that the Russian economy may still grow 1% in 2014, even as the country remains a riskier place to invest.

Guess you shouldn’t count on the BRICs for growth this year.

PLMish Deals, Earnings and Other News

After being very, very quiet the last couple of years it appears that MSC Software may at last be ready to start making some noise. The company hasn’t yet officially unveiled its latest products but has started issuing press releases that show its main offerings are continuing to perform in the marketplace. Last week, MSC said that that Volkswagen AG selected Adams/Machinery (with its new user interface) to assess the dynamic behavior of mechanical components and systems and that Scotrenewables Tidal Power in the Orkney Islands use MSC Nastran and Patran to design and analyze the rotor blade of the largest tidal turbine in the world today.

I sat with people involved in Scotrenewables at a conference a couple of years ago, when they were trying to get permissions and funding. It’s cool to see the project come to life.

In other news, 3D Systems announced that it is offering 5,950,000 shares of its common stock in a public offering at $53.28 per share to raise about $317 million. The company says it intends to use its net proceeds (after underwriters and others take their cut) to finance future acquisitions and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Links of the Week

I have become a huge fan of crowdsourcing. Kickstarter and similar sites  connect consumers and producers, helping companies develop offerings that people actually want and are willing to pay for up front. It’s a completely different model from going into a store and buying what’s available. My first experience with Kickstarter was with Strawbees and it’s been fascinating watching the product develop over time. Manufacturing hurdles, questions on how to design packaging … the entrepreneurs have been sending frequent, detailed updates, though I’m still waiting for my Strawbees to arrive.

Last week saw an amazing Kickstarter campaign funded in under 24 hours. If you’re in the US and have kids, you may be aware that LeVar Burton used to host a show on PBS called Reading Rainbow. RR was cancelled in 2006, I guess because educational TV changed and a show that taught kids that reading was about adventure and fun wasn’t as important as teaching kids how to read. Mr. Burton, the show’s host and executive producer, last Wednesday announced “Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere“, a Kickstarter campaign to bring the company’s Reading Rainbow app (hundreds of books and educational video field trips) to the Web to make it accessible to families and schools without app-able devices. The project’s original goal was to raise $1 million in 35 days but, as of Friday, the campaign had raised over $3 million and the team is now trying to figure out what to do with all that money.

Note: Mr. Burton was slammed over the weekend for not making clear that this campaign is to help fund a for-profit company, but most things on Kickstarter are for-profits so this doesn’t seem like a huge obstacle to me. 

I’m off to HxGN LIVE, the Hexagon user conference in Las Vegas, and hope to see you there. If you’re interested, follow me on Twitter at @monica_schnitge. I’ll put the HxGN LIVE hashtag in the feed when I know what it is. In the meantime, have a great week!

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