Autodesk takes minority stake in Aurigo, for infrastructure project delivery

Apr 14, 2020 | Hot Topics

Here’s an interesting one that I didn’t see coming: rather than acquiring, Autodesk is taking a minority stake in the privately-held AEC-focused firm, Aurigo Software.

Aurigo’s cloud-first software is used to plan, build, maintain and operate AEC projects, much as some of Autodesk’s offerings do. Aurigo sells in three tiers, Aurigo Masterworks Ultimate, for large, Aurigo Masterworks Professional for medium and Aurigo Essentials for small projects mostly in the civil infrastructure world.

Though in three tiers, the concept is the same: Aurigo’s solutions create a one-stop portal for project planning, forecasting, budgeting, bid/estimate management, project management, contract administration, scheduling, rights of way, permitting, materials testing, field inspection, civil connections (water, etc.), and document control. According to Aurigo, it is “investing extensively to harness Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technologies” to better inform these workflows”. The company says it has “over 300 customers .. deliver[ing] over $300 billion of capital programs safely and efficiently.” Autodesk adds that “over 40,000 projects across North America use Aurigo products [today], including many of the most extensive infrastructure programs underway, such as with Departments of Transportation in Massachusetts, Nevada, Iowa, Utah, Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the City of Las Vegas and the City of Houston’s Public Works department, which is the largest public works organization in the United States”.

The companies plan to “develop the most comprehensive set of cloud-based solutions for public and private owners. Aurigo will integrate with Autodesk Construction Cloud … soon giving owners a single end-to-end technology platform for design, planning, construction and operations of infrastructure and private assets.”

Autodesk already does a lot of this, with BIM360 and the recent construction-focused acquisitions. Why add Aurigo to the mix?

My take? Many of the asset project folks I talked with at AU (gosh, just last November? Seems like a lifetime ago!) were worried that Autodesk would become too closed, too Autodesk-centric, which would limit their ability to choose the best tools for any particular project. Bringing Aurigo into the extended family may mitigate that concern a bit.

Too, Autodesk’s products are heavily promoted to building projects. To be sure, those are a large part of the AEC economy, but when times are scary, economic stimulus focuses on civil works — roads, bridges, dams and so on. Autrigo seems less building-constrained, highlighting many infrastructure projects among that $300 billion-worth.

What does this mean in practice? Aurigo says it will soon bring to market a pre-built connector to Autodesk’s PlanGrid, the contractor apps that are part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud: “Masterworks Connect for PlanGrid will give all the contractors working on your public infrastructure projects an easy way to access Aurigo project files from their mobile device.”

Terms of the deal weren’t announced but Aurigo submitted a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on April 2 saying it had issued just under $8 million in shares. Coincidence? Perhaps.

We might learn more when Autodesk announces earnings in May.