5 on a Tuesday: Quick updates on Autodesk, Cadence, Dassault Systèmes, Lectra and Trimble

Feb 22, 2022 | Hot Topics

Autodesk sometimes makes small technology acquisitions known via its various blog platforms — and did so again, saying that it has acquired Prodsmart, a “maker of software for optimizing manufacturing processes with automation and digitization from the shop floor upward. Prodsmart … gives production managers insight.s from order all the way through to shipping”. The post added that Autodesk has also acquired intellectual property from CIMCO, “best known for its machine communication software and G-Code visualization. [CIMCO have] developed technology that automates the process of defining machine strategies [that] allows machinists to better connect to the rest of the product development lifecycle”. How, you might ask? According to Srinath Jonnalagadda, writer of the blog post and Autodesk’s VP of Design & Manufacturing Industry Strategy, “These acquisitions build upon the cloud-native PLM capabilities we added last year with Upchain … These new Autodesk assets are already transforming what we’re able to deliver in Fusion 360 while accelerating our efforts to reach out onto the shop floor with tools that streamline factory workflows and lead to operational and financial gains for manufacturers. We’ll continue to build on our momentum in this space because we know how important the connected factory is to the future success of our customers and the manufacturing industry at large.” Autodesk reports results later this week and we may learn more, though don’t expect price paid.

Cadence and Dassault Systèmes just announced a partnership to “integrated, next-generation solutions for the development of high performance electronic systems” that “combine[s] Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform with the Cadence Allegro platform in a joint solution [for] multidiscipline modeling, simulation and optimization of complex, connected electronic systems.” It’s a bit confusing in that the press release both announced the partnership and says that companies have been working together for several years — and that they have been working with customers to bring this to “prove this solution in a global production environment.” Cadence announces results later today, so perhaps we’ll learn more then, such as whether something is available for purchase or implementation.

Lectra, which you know acquired Gerber and other technology companies, released results for 2021 a few weeks ago. You can read much more detail on their website, but quickly: Including Gerber, the company reported revenue of €387.6 million, up 64% — had Gerber been included from the start of 2021, revenue would have very nearly doubled the size of the company. It’s very interesting, but what caught my attention was this, from the press release:

The Lectra 4.0 strategy was launched in 2017 with the aim of positioning the Group as a key Industry 4.0 player in its markets before 2030. It has been implemented to date through two consecutive strategic roadmaps … [The] roadmap, for 2020-2022 … is designed to enable Lectra to capture the full potential of its new offers for Industry 4.0, while delivering sustainable, profitable business growth. Despite the consequences of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the objectives of the 2020-2022 strategic roadmap remain unchanged … In light of [the typical list of risks and uncertainties], the Group has raised its objectives for 2022, with revenues in the range of 508 to 556 million euros (+ 31% to + 43% at actual exchange rates) and EBITDA before non-recurring items in the range of 92 to 104 million euros (+ 41% to + 60% at actual exchange rates).”

Why bring this to your attention? Three reasons: 1., We are often skeptical that an acquisition of Gerber’s size by a near-equal can work–and here it appears to successful and profitable; 2., Most people don’t think Lectra’s soft materials customers (auto interiors, fashion, furniture and so on) are particularly technological — yet Lectra’s (and DS’ Centric’s success) show that perhaps these customers are using Industry 4.0 as a lever to leapfrog ahead of more traditional technology adopters and 3., Lectra’s not talking about moving buyers to new licensing methods, from desktop to cloud or anything — it appears to be acknowledging that its buyers may need to start slowly, with whatever tech makes them confident of meeting objectives.

And finally, Trimble announced fiscal 2021 results, too. In a nutshell, total revenue of $3,659 million was up 16% for the year, despite all of the supply chain, inflation, labor, and pandemic-related issues in construction, trucking, farming, and Trimbles’ other end-industries. Trimble’s Buildings & Infrastructure unit reported that revenue was up 14% in Q4 and up 16% for the year with Q4 “sales of machine control solutions to civil construction customers up nearly 30% in Q4, despite supply chain constraints. Viewpoint [an ERP for construction companies] and e-Builder [a construction project management suite targeted at owners] ARR together was up in the mid-teens … SketchUp [the CAD tool formerly known as Google SketchUp] ARR growth was nearly 40%”. Trimble has a lot more divisions and product sets — look at the full results, These factoids may preview Autodesk’s and Bentley’s results, coming soon. Trimble mentions Infrastructure; buildings, not so much. People in the construction industry (contractors, owners, site managers, etc.) are investing in governance technology, which could bode well for Autodesk’s Construction Cloud offering. And SketchUp is far from dead! In fact, CEO Rob Painter told investors that “the SketchUp story is an amazing one. It has a quasi-consumer appeal, which Tekla [the more advanced steel design software sold by Trimble] would not.” Mr. Painter didn’t answer an investor question, though: “Based on the numbers you shared on SketchUp, it sounds like user growth has tripled in that business, give or take since the transition to subscription.” That would be remarkable, if true.