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Major Autodesk Disruption: Carl Bass Resigns

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

It’s said that all good things must come to an end, and last week at Autodesk, they did, with the resignation of Carl Bass, Autodesk’s President and CEO.

While at SOLDIWORKS World last week, I received an early morning email from an Autodesk spokesperson that the company was announcing that Carl Bass had decided to step down from his role as President and CEO. “With our subscription and cloud business well underway, Carl and the board have determined that now is the right time for Carl to step aside and let someone else guide the company into its next phase,” said the spokesperson.

Carl Bass Steps Down. Source: Bloomberg

While the search is underway for a new President/CEO, Autodesk’s Board has formed an Interim Office of the Chief Executive to oversee the Company’s day-to-day operations, which will be headed by Amar Hanspal, senior vice president and chief product officer and Andrew Anagnost, senior vice president and chief marketing officer as interim co-chief executive officers.

Amar and Andrew are very capable and bring more than 50 years of combined experience at Autodesk. They both have strong backgrounds in product, strategy and go-to-market, and their combined expertise will continue to drive the company’s subscription business. While Autodesk said it was focusing on its transition to a cloud and subscription-based business, as part of that transition, the company last February laid off 10 percent of its workforce.

Note the emphasis on the “subscription business.” Since its inception, it’s something that has not set well with a lot of Autodesk customers and has been an ongoing bone of contention. Autodesk has hardly been alone with the subscription model, just look how Adobe has exploited it. However, Autodesk customers were left with no alternative deployment choices as the subscription hatched and proliferated.

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SOLIDWORKS World 2017: That’s Entertainment!

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

This week was one giant blur at SOLIDWORKS 2017 in Los Angeles that was witnessed not only by me, but also more than 5,000 attendees. The exhibit floor with over 120 partners opened at the beginning of the Superbowl with TVs and libations all around, so most people were in a good mood by the end of the game, especially if they were a New England Patriots fan.

The theme for this years SOLIDWORKS WORLD was, “The New; The Next; The Never Before,” which was a good idea but was not evident until the third day of the conference exactly what this meant. On the first day, the SOLIDWORKS message was choppy, not cohesive, clear, or coherent as it could/should have been; and some of the presenters didn’t make sense, as there was too much entertainment fluff and not nearly enough technical content that users come for, me included. Why drag AEC and the Dassault Systems 3D Experience platform into a SOLIDWORKS event? After all, this is SOLIDWORKS World, not Dassault Systemes Universe.

SOLIDWORKS WORLD 2017: Entrance to Exhibit Hall

However, things got much better as the conference commenced in earnest with classes and the exhibition floor in full swing.

Some of the biggest announcements from SOLIDWORKS World 2017 follow briefly below. In coming weeks we will cover each of these and others in much more detail based on discussions we had with SOLIDWORKS’ product managers.

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Metrology Meets Simulation: Hexagon Acquiring MSC Software

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

This week MSC Software Corporation, the company that brought you such products as Nastran, Patran, Marc, and Apex, announced that it had reached an agreement to be purchased by Hexagon AB for $834 million cash. Like all corporate acquisitions, this one is subject to clearance and standard regulatory filings, and is expected to be completed in April. For more than 50 years MSC has been a leading provider of CAE solutions, primarily simulation software for virtual product and manufacturing process development, and was one of the first 10 commercial software companies.

With 2016 proforma sales of $230, MSC will continue to run as an independent business unit within Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) division. HMI’s main businesses are in the automotive, aerospace, machinery, consumer electronics, and other discrete manufacturing markets. Process-oriented solutions are essential for manufacturers, and MSC’s products address key design and engineering processes for CAE.

“Our mission continues to be laser-focused on driving leadership in simulation tools, with solutions from materials to systems, said Dominic Gallello, President & CEO of MSC Software. “We will continue to work toward delivering breakthrough value to our customers. Although our mission and roadmap does not change, we anticipate that our ability to offer additional process oriented solutions from design to manufacturing will be enhanced by joining forces with Hexagon.”

As for the future of MSC Software, Mr. Gallello said, “Hexagon considers MSC’s management team, along with all MSC employees, to be an extremely valuable asset. No personnel changes are anticipated as a result of this transaction. Additionally, Hexagon is a strong believer in MSC’s product roadmap and growth plans. No changes to MSC’s current product roadmap are planned. MSC’s mission continues to be a leader in simulation tools, solutions from materials to systems and related services. Our aim is to continue to deliver breakthrough value to our customers.”

Hexagon AB is built upon three major business units: Leica Geosystems, Intergraph, and Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI). MSC will be integrated within HMI, because of the obvious overlap in customer base between the two groups. MSC will operate independently while in coordination with other functions and business units to execute on technology and commercial synergies.

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Financial Good Times Roll For PTC With Increasing Contributions From IoT

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Most large PLM companies deal with three groups of people that are necessary for survival – employees, customers, and investors. Every company regards and treats the three groups differently, but most of the successful ones acknowledge the importance of all three – although some companies are better at it than others and some companies regard one or more of the groups as necessary evils.

Each of the groups gets the information it needs to make decisions from different sources, such as press releases, news feeds, whitepapers, eBooks, financial reports, and so on. Financial reports for tech companies are especially interesting not only because of what they say, but what they might imply. And, while some companies try to report “alternative facts,” financial figures don’t lie, and some things are obvious, but there are always numbers subject to speculative interpretation.

That brings me to PTC’s most recent financial report that was made public last week. There were some surprises, some good, some not so good, but in many ways reinforced and reflected the direction of the company, namely IoT. Admittedly, IoT was not the biggest source of revenue for PTC, but it’t clear that it is increasingly important to the health and wealth of the company.

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RS Components’ Free DesignSpark Tops 200,000 User Activations With Continuing Growth

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Last month, RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, a global distributor for electromechanical engineering components announced that user activations of DesignSpark Mechanical (DSM), the company’s free-for-download 3D modeling and design tool, had reached a cumulative total of 200,000. According to the company, the volume of total activations of the software continues to increase at a rate of between four and five percent per month.

Developed in conjunction with SpaceClaim, DesignSpark Mechanical is a key tool in the RS DesignSpark initiative for providing resources that enable engineers to rapidly develop prototypes in the product concept design stage. Originally launched in late 2013 with a second version offering new functionality introduced the following year, the software is also available with extended engineering options (DS Mechanical Exchange and DS Mechanical Drawing) that costs $995 for the pair.

“DesignSpark Mechanical is a powerful 3D solid modeling tool that has rapidly been accepted by professionals, students and the maker communities, who have found enormous utility in the tool, enabling them to quickly develop 3D prototypes and bring their concepts and products to market in a very fast time,” said Mike Brojak, Head of DesignSpark Customer Solutions at RS. “Meeting this milestone is another hallmark of success for our DesignSpark initiative, which empowers engineers and designers in the maker community and from the smallest start-up to large organizations.”

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3D Printing At CES 2017: Metals, Ceramics, and Ultra-Low Cost

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Last week marked the 50th edition of one of the world’s biggest technology spectacles – CES 2017 – showcasing the connected future of technology. With more than 3,800 exhibiting companies and exhibit space of more than 2.6 million net square feet, CES 2017 hosted some the world’s biggest companies in addition to hosting more than 600 startups. More than 175,000 industry attendees, including 55,000 from outside the U.S., convened in Las Vegas to discover the latest and greatest in many segments of the technology industry.

Probably one of the big trends at CES 2017 was Amazon’s Alexa assistant integrated into all sorts of gadgets everywhere, including cars! Not to be outdone, at this year’s CES, though, no fewer than 56 exhibitors were under the 3D Printing banner – many that you’ve heard of and a few that you probably haven’t. Although there were some basic retreads on previously released products, there were significant developments presented, and the ones that caught our eye were in the areas of materials (metals and ceramics) and affordability (sub-$500 machines).

CES 2017 3D Printing Technologies

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PTC Selected as IIoT Company Of The Year For 2016

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Just about a year ago, PTC received the IoT Innovation Vendor of the Year Award from marketing analytics and consulting firm Compass Intelligence at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Compass Intelligence Annual Awards recognize the best Internet of Things (IoT) products and services offered in the market during the past year.

In the view of the award presenting organization, PTC had become a leading provider of technology that enables its customers to realize the value inherent in the Internet of Things. As well, in their opinion, PTC’s CEO, Jim Heppelmann, had become a major thought leader, having coauthored two seminal HBR articles that describe the implications of the IoT and offering companies a blueprint to get started on their own IoT journeys.

This week PTC announced that it had been named Industrial Internet of Things Company of the Year by IoT Breakthrough, an independent organization dedicated to recognizing IoT products and companies that stand out in the industry. PTC also received the IoT Breakthrough award for “Industrial IoT Solution of the Year” for its Kepware KEPServerEX industrial connectivity software.

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The Catalysts For Connected Manufacturing

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Cloud computing is helping more manufacturers become more agile and competitive, but it is by no means the only aspect of improving manufacturing practices. There are actually several technologies involved with making connected smart manufacturing a reality.

That’s just part of the findings of the 2016 State of Manufacturing study written by Plex Systems and based on survey responses from approximately 200 manufacturers.

Last year’s State of Manufacturing Technology report validated that the cloud is one of the primary catalysts for technology usage overall. Fundamentally, the cloud reduces the IT cost and personnel burden for core systems and administration, opening up resources for greater innovation and much needed focus on higher-value technology projects. The core capabilities inherent in modern cloud solutions—mobility, ease of integration, configurability, and the elimination of upgrade cycles— also make it easier and less expensive for manufacturers to connect their people, equipment, materials, suppliers, and customers.

Connected Manufacturing

This year’s survey discusses an emerging trend: connected manufacturing. Organizations are building on the connectivity of the cloud and leveraging integration that extends from mobile devices to plant floor equipment, customers to suppliers, and people to materials. These capabilities are providing a new application foundation for everything from agile process design to enterprise supply-chain management, innovation, and product quality.

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Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

I read a lot of books, mostly non-fiction and technical in both hardcopy and digital formats. Although I get through most of them, there are some I don’t even try to finish, and a few become favorites that I keep for future reading and reference. I recently read a book entitled Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook by Rosemary Astheimer. When I saw Handbook in the title, I thought it would be another dry reference book, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more than that — it’s a good learning and reference resource.

The book’s author, Rosemary L. Astheimer, is an application engineer for Action Engineering, as well as a Continuing Lecturer for the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her Masters of Software Engineering from Brandeis University. Before joining the faculty in 2014, Ms. Astheimer spent over 15 years working in the CAD software industry. She began her career in software support, transitioned into a pre-sales application engineer focusing on business development of new products and was most recently a product manager.

I first met and interviewed Ms. Astheimer at PTC’s LiveWorx 2016 in Boston. She knows her stuff.

ModelCHECK Cover Only

What Is ModelCHECK?

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Siemens Goes ECAD With Mentor Graphics Acquisition

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

By acquiring one of ECAD’s giants, Mentor Graphics, Siemens continues to round out its design capabilities far beyond its MCAD roots as part of its Vision 2020 quest. Siemens says the acquisition is an extension of “shaping the Digital Industrial Enterprise by expanding its portfolio for industrial software.”

Under terms of the agreement, Siemens will acquire Mentor for $37.25 per share in cash, which represents a value of $4.5 billion. The offer price represents a 21% premium to Mentor’s closing price on November 11, 2016, the last trading day prior to the announcement.

Siemens Logo

Major Mentor shareholder Elliott Management has committed to support the transaction. In many ways, I don’t think Mentor had much of a chance of fending off the acquisition, as its profits were minuscule (and had been for some time), and got strong-armed by Elliott who owns a good chunk (~8%) of Mentor. By the way, Elliott blessed the offer.

Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer, said when it raised its stake it saw numerous opportunities to boost Mentor’s “deeply undervalued” shares and had started talks with the company’s management and board. According to the company, the acquisition is a “great outcome” for Mentor shareholders as the company will benefit from Siemens’s increased scale and greater resources.

Mentor Graphics Logo

The acquisition extends Siemens’ Digital Enterprise Software portfolio with Mentor’s electronics IC and systems design, simulation, and manufacturing software – capabilities essential for smart connected products, such as autonomous vehicles.
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