SPACECLAIM: A new entrant, with exceptional human assets, in a challenging market.
The Mechanical CAD market, valued at approximately $5 billion, is one of the oldest enterprise software markets and one of those very rare big markets which has been kept in the hands of experts. Actually, none of the MISO (Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle) is playing a strong role in the $12+ billion PLM market, leaving space for DAPU (Dassault Systemes, Autodesk, PTC and UGS). This is most likely not going to change. Trials from SAP and later by Oracle to enter in the PLM market from the collaborative PDM window has not been as successful for those giants of software is in their other enterprise software initiatives so far; DAPU (at least PTC and UGS) managed to leverage their PLM solutions in the recent years in the high end markets.
One may observe that the CAD part of the PLM market is not growing that much any more. Besides, several new products/vendors have entered the market in the past 10 years while some older vendors try to survive. Even some executives (although not among the most visionary ones) stated that the CAD market has “no more unsolved problems” and their company is going to reduce focus on CAD (see declarations from PTC’s Dick Harrison a few years ago).
However, with a closer look at the CAD market, you notice that if the MCAD market seems flat in terms of growth, its because of some heavy old products, representing the High-End segment (Catia, NX or even Pro/Engineer to some extent) which are actually declining more or less in terms of licences revenue year-over-year. The growth engine for the MCAD market comes from newer products mostly targeted to the mid-size manufacturers (Inventor, Solidworks, Solid Edge,
). The growth rate for this mid-range segment is over 20% annual right now, reaching a global market of approximately $2.5 billion which has become bigger than the high-end market. Spaceclaim is going even further. Priced at around $1500 per year, the product is classified in this growing mid-range CAD products, but the company is targeting more than just mid-size manufacturers. Convinced that there are still tons of “non-resolved problems” in CAD which can improve life for CAD users, engineers, analysts, suppliers, manufacturers, and other extended enterprise actors, Spaceclaim is trying to remove human and psychological barriers for use of CAD. This is not an easy task as one of the reasons why the extended enterprise is not using CAD is because the concepts of mechanical design are sometimes hard to approach for non-engineers. Now, even if you offer the easiest tool, you still need a high level of collaboration between engineers and the rest of the enterprise to smooth the processes. And that’s where an extended CAD tool together with collaborative tools can ensure shorter design cycles for products with higher quality and better compliance.
Another challenge in targeting the extended enterprise is that several other vendors are already in that space with tools enabling the management, visualisation and collaboration of the digital mock-up, DMU. Cimmetry and Adobe (Acrobat 3D) are among those who are successfully marketing their software to this same target. The question is: do this target need just visualization, collaboration and first level manipulation, or the more sophisticated functionalities that Spaceclaim is starting to offer?
But Spaceclaim has exceptional assets and that’s the experience and the track record of its founders and management. As co-founders of PTC, they drastically changed the way Engineers used CAD in late 80s creating a product (Pro/ENGINEER) which is still widely used around the world and became a historical reference in CAD technology. They restarted with Solidworks which became another best-seller in CAD as of the mid 90s. Trustable management attracts solid investors and usually, even if the initial positioning is not perfect, the right funding (seems to be there) in the right market (seems to be there) will enable the company fine-tune its strategy during the first quarters of sales, and find its way to success.