As I wrote a few weeks ago, private companies choose to share information in unique ways.Bentley Systems creates an “annual report” that is a mix of company-provided data, market analysts’ charts and customer testimonials. This year’s report was published at the Be Together user conference on May 18 and includes a couple of interesting nuggets:

• Total revenue is not spelled out, but a careful look at the chart in the report shows that 2009 revenue was about $450 million — or down about 10% from last year’s roughly $500 million.During the conference keynote on May 18, CEO Greg Bentley said the company’s acquisitions during 2009 would have boosted the company back to around $500 million had they occurred at the beginning of the year. No other financial information is given, but all indications are that Bentley is a profitable, prosperous and well-run company.

• Bentley continues to investment heavily in research and development, maintaining its goal of 20% of revenue — or $90 million.

• During 2009, Bentley made a flurry of acquisitions including gINT (geotechnical data management), BridgeMaster (bridge production in China), 9SQ (2D orthographic general arrangement drawing production). Already in 2010 Bentley acquired Exor (linear networked assets such as roadways), and eB (configuration and records management of operations such as nuclear plants). In a truly impressive statistic, Bentley has spent invested over $1 billion in R&D and acquisitions, with minimal net debt.

• Like more traditional annual reports, this one highlights the company’s achievements during 2009: release of V8i versions of MicroStation, ProjectWise, and Navigator; OpenPlant products based on the ISO 15926 standard; 3D GIS capabilities for intelligent city modeling; Bentley Substation V8i for schematic and physical substation design; the Integrated Structural Modeling methodology; and the i-model, a container for open infrastructure information exchange. To me, the most interesting developments on this list areOpenPlant and i-model, which facilitate collaboration between the members of the complex teams that make up larger infrastructure projects.

The customer stories are compelling — lots of big, hairy, complex projects that are being executed with a mix of human ingenuity, software and hardware. A good read, and a reason to believe that Bentley will be involved in its customer’s work processes for a while to come.