The industry’s acquisition binge continues, with news of a new deal just about every week:
Bentley invests in TEEC
Bentley Systems announced yesterday that the company has taken a minority equity stake in The Engineering Essentials Company (TEEC) and placed a person on its board. TEEC’s SpecWave product enables AEC companies to manage the massive amounts of information related to codes, standards, and engineering specifications that are required for just about every project today. A project’s spec writer or master (yes,that’s a job function) typically takes a specification through preparation, approval, and publishing; the spec is then used and augmented through a project’s duration. If the spec isn’t carefully managed and controlled, standards or industry standards may not be met and the project fails inspection. Bentley’s announcement didn’t say what TEEC intended to do with the invested capital, but the press release did hint at job openings. Bentley often invests in companies that it later acquires.
PTC acquires 4CS
Last week, PTC announced that it had purchased 4CS, developer of the iWarranty, iSupport and other warranty management and service lifecycle management products. According to PTC, 4CS’s approach ”leverages a product-centric data model to capture service history and product updates in the form of an “as-maintained” bill of material (BOM).“ From my perspective, iWarranty take a manufacturer through the entire warranty process, from accepting a client claim to processing the claim through systems that involve creating a return authorization, providing a refund or new product, assembling quality data — and tying all of this into the relevant ERP, SCM or CRM systems [I have to presume that PLM is implied in that list]. 4CS was privately-held and terms of the deal were not disclosed but PTC did say that the acquisition is expected to be neutral to its financial results in fiscal 2011 and 2012. It is likely that we will find out more during the company’s next earnings call.
SAP brings Right Hemisphere closer
FInally, SAP acquired Right Hemisphere, a business partner since 2008. Right Hemisphere’s design visualization tools are based around its Deep Server, which serves product information from multiple data sources to downstream users who use client applications Deep Exploration and Deep View for authoring, publishing and viewing. SAP said the acquisition is “consistent with SAP’s strategy to complement existing applications and solutions with innovative technologies and capabilities while maintaining its successful track record of organic growth” and believes the acquisition will lead to “[n]ew solutions [that will] increase the speed of decision-making across all lines of business.” SAP has been trying to craft a PLM solution for its legions of manufacturing customers with little success so far; Right Hemisphere’s products are solid but are unlikely, by themselves, to bring manufacturers back to SAP for PLM. it will be interesting to see if and how this acquisition reinvigorates SAP’s overall PLM efforts — and exactly how the combination of SAP+Right Hemisphere will, in the words of Michael Lynch, CEO, Right Hemisphere, “change the way businesses of any size create, manage and deliver products and services across their enterprise and their supply chain.”
The last few months have seen acquisitions by ANSYS, Autodesk, 3D Systems, ESI, MSC, PTC, SAP and SGI. Most have been small, strategic technology acquisitions and likely point to the difficulties of doing business as a small player in a tough selling environment. However, this consolidation also means that the big get bigger and more diversified in their offerings. How will this diversification affect their core business areas? Will these combination follow the pattern Harvard found, and ultimately negatively impact the overall business’s ability to serve customers? On the upside, these smaller technology offerings are now being brought to a far wider market and could have real impact. Only time will tell.