Bentley, Hexagon active in acquisitions

Jan 22, 2018 | Hot Topics

Right up front: no, Bentley didn’t acquire Hexagon and Hexagon didn’t acquire Bentley. Both did announce acquisitions today.

It was announced in India that Bentley has acquired S-Cube Futuretech for its RCDC software product line. RCDC, RCDC FE, RCDC Plan and Steel Autodrafter are now part of Bentley’s structural analysis and design portfolio. As far as I can tell, all technical S-Cube employees have joined Bentley.

According to an FAQ on S-Cube’s website, Bentley acquired S-Cube because “its niche structural concrete design, detailing, and documentation capabilities, uniquely compliments the STAAD and RAM structural analysis and design software … Bentley is now able to offer a complete solution for the structural design of buildings to Indian standards, including reinforced concrete detailing and documentation integrated with STAAD and RAM.” The FAQ goes on to say that “S-Cube technology will continue to be developed and supported as it always has been. Users of RCDC can look forward to continued regular updates compliant with STAAD, ETABS, and RAM.” and that S-Cube’s focus on Asian design codes is unchanged. Details of the acquisition were not released.

Hexagon’s announcement was quite a bit different. You may know that Hexagon PPM has two plant-focused design offerings: SmartPlant and CADWorx. The first get most of the press because it’s often used in mega-projects; the latter is an AutoCAD-based product set that has, historically, been sold via resellers. Today, Hexagon PPM announced that it’s changing that, at least in the US, with the acquisition of its Houston channel partner, Plant Design Solutions (PDS). Rick Allen, president of the CADWorx business at Hexagon, said “we’ve had many requests from clients across the United States who want to work more directly with us. As these requests have grown, we have chosen to move to a direct sales model to more closely serve our U.S. clients”. This is the first step in the “transition to a U.S. direct sales model during the first quarter of 2018.” it sounds like all of the customer-facing resources of PDS have joined Hexagon. No further details were given.

That’s fascinating. Companies often switch up their go-to-market strategy as competition heats up, a major channel partner gets too powerful or drops the ball or, as Mr. Allen says, customers want to work directly with the software maker. I’m not saying this is true for PDS, but it’s a tough time to be a VAR: subscriptions squeeze cash flow; VARs that don’t or can’t offer lots of add-on services can be ignored in favor of an online store; and, of course, many longtime VARs were started by people who are now retiring and some businesses are simply closing. I can’t help but wonder if this is a trend we’ll see more of in 2018: VARs being subsumed into their OEM clients. It’s only January — we’ll see.

Update: Apologies; I misspelled S-Cube a couple of times in the original post, adding a “d” that didn’t belong. Bentley also told me that Bentley and S-Cube have been working together since 2014 “to develop fully integrated concrete design and analysis applications. The acquisition brings together the knowledge base of S-Cube and Bentley’s respective teams of experts, representing decades of combined industry experience to provide state-of-the-art structural design and analysis technology.”