I'm in Denver, USA for the IntelliCAD Worldwide Conference -- or a similar name to that. By coincidence, Alibre ceo Greg Milliken started his V8 press tour today, so we agreed to meet in Denver.
The hotel's shuttle bus wasn't waiting for me at Stapleton Airport. Calling the hotel, I learned they'd decided to delay it by nearly 1.5 hours, so they could pick up two more hotel guests from the airport. That wasn't going to work for me; I had a 7pm appointment with Mr Milliken. The hotel agree to pay for a taxi -- $70 for a 45-minute ride.
The cab driver is from Ethiopia, and tells me his grandfather has a house that looks like the Graystone Castle hotel that I'm staying at. Lean times for hotels? This one has free breakfast and free high-speed Internet. Kewl.
I'm running a half-hour late. We have an ok dinner at the nearby Applebees, and then Greg Milliken launches into his main message. Not a Alibre Design V8 demo, but his message as CEO:
Alibre is here to stay, and to grow at the expense of the $5,000 MCAD packages.
Some new companies come to visit me, and I have to tell them -- bluntly -- that I don't think they're going to make it. Alibre, in its early days, was similar, riding the Internet wave as yet-another ASP [application service provider] running an unknown and untested CAD package.
Then someone knocked some sense into the company, and they switched into an organization with a CAD software and financial model that impresses me:
* US$4 million a year in revenue, and profitable.
* subscription renewal rate of 50%
* lean cost structure (kinda like upFront.eZine's).
* intimate knowledge of the customer, using the technology leftover from the Internet bubble.
* integration of community with software.
The Alibre Design software's front end connects with other Alibre customers in an MSN Messenger-like interface. Support is live. Alibre Consultants are independent of the company, but also connect into the community.
Other tidbits.... Mr Milliken figures his company has 1% of the mid-range market, which includes SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Inventor, think3, and others in the $5,000-price range. His software, in contrast, is in the $795-$1795 range, plus $295/yr maintenance.... 95% of his customers have 5 or fewer seats of Alibre, so larger shops are a growth area.... Alibre is sold direct in Canada and US, but through VARs in Europe and Asia... Available now in seven languages... won't bother with surface modeling for now, because surface models can be imported and converted to solids... next release in 1Q05... in addition to selling more licenses of Alibre, Mr Milliken is working on incorporating Alibre Design into other software, such as finite element analysis and other verticals.
Is Alibre going to get a version of IntelliCAD, as has SolidWorks? Mr Milliken says there is little demand at this point.