4 on a Thursday: 3D Systems divests, Autodesk talks Upchain roadmap, Luxion gains investor & new CEO, Panasonic buys Blue Yonder

Jun 3, 2021 | Hot Topics

So much news, so little time!

3D Systems continues to reinvent itself, announcing this week that it sold off its on-demand manufacturing service to Trilantic North America, a private equity firm, for $82 million, subject to certain closing conditions and adjustments. The transaction includes the On Demand Manufacturing experts and facilities in Tennessee and Washington in the US; and in France, Italy, and England. Trilantic plans to rebrand the service as Quickparts (a much catchier name, IMHO). 3D Systems says this deal is part of its overall plan to focus on industrial-scale additive manufacturing. CEO Jeffrey Graves said that proceeds from the sale will be used to further accelerate investments “in our core additive manufacturing capabilities, for which we are seeing rapidly rising demand in new, extraordinary applications ranging from the human body to electric vehicles and space travel.”

Autodesk last week announced a terrific first quarter. Total revenue was $989 million, up 12% as reported, and up 11% in constant currencies (cc). One way to slice the revenue is by Design and Make: Design revenue was $885 million, up 11% (up10% cc); Make revenue was $82 million, up 21% up (20% cc). Looked at another way, AEC revenue was $443 million, up 16%; Manufacturing revenue was $197 million, up 8%; AutoCAD and LT revenue was $285 million, up 9%. CEO Andrew Anagnost said that the success in FQ1 was the result of Autodesk’s own efforts — but also due to “waning uncertainty and growing confidence in our end markets”, giving credence to his belief that “we are through the revenue growth trough and on track to achieve our fiscal 2022 and 2023 goals”.

Mr. Anagnost also gave an update on Upchain (which became part of Autodesk in mid-May), saying it will “simplify data-sharing and collaboration for engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, and other product stakeholders … We expect Upchain to become an on-ramp for legacy design tools to the Fusion 360 cloud ecosystem and facilitate further expansion in adjacent verticals.” Legacy tools and adjacent verticals; interesting, no?

Mr. Anagnost more or less gave an integration roadmap for Upchain. He said that Upchain “understands both files and cloud information models like what powers Fusion 360. Fusion already has a stack built on its cloud information model, that goes all the way through simple data management up through into Product Lifecycle Management. Upchain will likely replace that capability within Fusion over time. But more importantly, Upchain supports a whole swath of legacy applications from our competitors. We’re going to go into accounts with those legacy applications and combine a Fusion stack with the Upchain stack to manage all the data our customers use. Ultimately, we’re going to integrate Upchain with Vault, so that Vault can have an extension into the cloud. We’re not going to force our Vault users to move from on-prem to the cloud. Vault is a very popular application, we sell a lot of it every quarter, and we’re going to continue to update and maintain it. We will continue to drive Vault, but we are going to integrate Vault and Upchain over time, which will give our Vault customers a path to putting all their data in the cloud as they see fit to do it. But we’re not going to force that migration”. The end game? “Ultimately, look for us to be going after legacy systems with a combination of our Fusion offering and Upchain capability to bring all the customer’s data and all the applications the customer use together in one robust cloud environment.”

For FQ2, the company expects total revenue of $1,045 million to $1,060 million; for FY2022, revenue of $4,305 million to $4,385 million – an increase of about 15%. (This guidance includes an unspecified contribution from Upchain. I can’t imagine it’s much.) Lots more at Autodesk’s earnings website.

Luxion announced a lot over the last two months, that I somehow neglected to cover here. Luxion is most known for its awesome rendering technology, Keyshot. In April, Luxion announced that it secured an investment (no financial given) from GRO Capital to “double-down on product innovation and accelerating global growth” and then, in May, Luxion co-founders Henrik and Claus Wann Jensen announced that they have handed over the reins to new CEO Claus Thorsgaard: “The organizational change will ensure that Henrik and Claus Wann Jensen can dedicate their focus on further developing the market-leading software for 3D product design rendering,” Mr. Thorsgaard said, “Luxion is the undisputed global leader in advancing rendering and computer-based lighting simulation for product design … Product innovation and customer focus will remain in focus in the coming years, where we expect to strengthen Luxion’s market position even further through double-digit growth and the introduction of a subscription-based business model.” The cover image is from the press release announcing the release of Keyshot 10.2. Gorgeous, no?

In another bit of not-that-new news, I discovered that Panasonic has announced it will acquire Blue Yonder, a company you may not have heard of. Blue Yonder makes a digital fulfillment platform — aka supply chain management solution. In its promo materials, Blue Yonder says its platform “enables retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers to seamlessly predict, pivot and fulfill customer demand. With Blue Yonder, you can make more automated, profitable business decisions that deliver greater growth and re-imagined customer experiences.” Notice the use of predict, automate, experience — they matter. Panasonic is paying an additional $5.6 billion for the 80% of shares it doesn’t already own, meaning that Blue Yonder is now valued at $8.5 billion. That’s an 8+ revenue multiple, for those keeping track. Anyway, why should you care? Because I don’t think of Panasonic as a software company, but that’s about change. Panasonic says that the acquisition brings together Blue Yonder’s AI-enabled supply chain software with Panasonic’s autonomous solutions to form “autonomous enhancement of the whole supply chain”. I think we are going to see more of this, as old-gen companies seek to reinvent themselves for a world that increasingly uses AI to tailor experiences and then ties those experiences to profit.

That’s it – hope your weeks ends well, and have a great weekend!