Quickies: Acquisitions continue in the PLMish world

Aug 29, 2016 | Hot Topics

Just because you’re lying on a beach, don’t assume everyone is. We’ve had a couple of acquisition announcements come across the transom in the last week, and they’re noteworthy.

SofTech continues its shift in focus away from PLM. You may have known Softech for CADRA product line, sold to Mentor Graphics Corporation on 2013 for $3.2 million or so (you certainly ask me about it often enough). Or you may know it for its acquisition of Workgroup Technology Corporation in 2002, developer of ProductCenter. Last week, SofTech announced that it has sold ProductCenter and the Connectors to SolidWorks, AutoCAD and Inventor to Essig Research Inc. for $3.25 million. The sale is subject to the approval of SofTech’s shareholders and must meet other closing conditions, but is expected to occur by October 2016.

If you’ve been following SofTech, you’ll know that it’s had a rough time of it over the last decade. In 2011, the management team took a controlling stake in the company (which is publicly traded) in order to refocus on areas of greater opportunity. One of these is HomeView, which SofTech bills as a “secure, intelligent home management from anywhere” solution, which aims to “revolutionize home ownership”: “HomeView provides ease of ownership, peace of mind, and the ability to enhance a home’s value by maintaining complete home information. With HomeView, homeowners are able to create a virtual home manual that keeps track of personal assets over time and manages user manuals, warranty periods, service records, maintenance reminders and other projects. HomeView is a free home ownership solution available through homeview.com and the iTunes App Store.”

As for Essig? Essig is a Cincinnati-based high-tech engineering and manufacturing services company that services global customers from the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil. President Joe Daly said in prepared remarks that he is “very excited about the growth possibilities from this transaction. In the past two years, Essig and SofTech have already successfully provided solutions to each other’s existing clients. Going forward we expect to accelerate this introduction of solutions to each other’s historical client base.”

SofTech’s whole saga has been fascinating. CADRA was one of the earlier CAD entries, and was positioned as an inexpensive alternative to the premium CADDS and CADAM by the company that eventually became MatrixOne — they sold CADRA to SofTech to focus on a set of PDM/PLM solutions. Workgroup was a cool, department-scale PDM system that never managed to gain much traction on its own, leading to its acquisition by SofTech. Like other companies, SofTech missed some market shifts, perhaps didn’t invest in what turned out to be market-winning offerings — but continues to reinvent itself. It’s been coming up with and acquiring new intellectual property, with a view towards eCommerce and HomeView. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

In a completely unrelated pocket of the PLMish world, FARO announced that it is buying Laser Projection Technologies, Inc., (LPT) a maker of high-speed, long-range 3D laser projection and measurement systems that are used in manufacturing for precise component alignment. FARO already markets several lines of 3D measurement and imaging solutions for factory metrology, product design, construction, public safety forensics and 3D solutions; LPT’s proprietary solutions are said to be “thousands of times faster than currently available LIDAR products” — which means that it can be used inline in a manufacturing environment. LPT’s system uses laser scanning, where the 3D coordinates of points on an object´s surface are determined by projecting laser onto the surface, with advanced scanning methods to measure each spot´s location.

FARO CEO Simon Raab said of the acquisition that “[i]n addition to LPT’s leading laser projection solutions, we believe LPT’s proprietary imaging laser photogrammetry and imaging laser radar technologies have tremendous potential to disrupt the market by establishing a new class of high-speed laser measurement with advanced 3D imaging capabilities and we will focus our integration efforts on rapidly leveraging this potential.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.