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Sep 14, 2005


LJ Whorfin

1. What happens if MS, UGS and Autodesk should merge? What would be the platform?

2. What would happen if just AD was bought by MS? Would MS really need to buy UGS to be effective? UGS really only compete against Dassault. All current and future PLMs become just ISV fodder.

My basic business platform
Server OS
Desktop OS
Office Apps
Word Processing
Email servers and clients – with CRM
Web Browser
Accounting ~ GP-AR-AP
In manufacturing & AEC I would add CAD

The ways I think about Platform PLMs are not part of the modularized platform construct but the layer above my definition of the platform listed above. If we move up one step in the 3 to 5 year time frame (as the above modularized building blocks commoditize), Software Publishers will push deeper into the verticals place. A PLM would tie together all the pieces nicely if after AD is bought out by some thing first.

3. Now in the above platform play… where PLMS are not part of the platform but cad is… What is our SWOT for ISVs in genderal if a Microsoft & Autodesk combined platform play?

I now think that Autodesk is in play and will be bought by MS, IBM, ORCLE – dark horses will be Dassault and SAP. What you think?

Evan Yares

Autodesk in play? Hard to imagine, given their P/E ratio.

As for the question about who owns your CAD data -- the answer is "anyone but your CAD vendor." The problem is one of control. When you have to pay a license fee to a vendor (forever) to access your data, that's an issue.

Actually, it's a Sarbanes Oxley issue. Given that a company's trade secrets are often stored in CAD files, and access to those files is effectively controlled by the CAD vendor (except with vendors such as Intergraph, Bentley, Graphisoft, MCS and others who publish their data formats), there is a significant liability question. (see http://tinyurl.com/bkuct)

Interestingly, this issue has recently come up in the government sector. Massachusetts has standardized on the OpenDocument file format for public records precisely because of vendor induced impediments to their ability to exploit public records.

Microsoft was not happy with this... I'm guessing that it is because, unlike related actions by Norway and Peru, this one may precipitate a sea change. And open formats are not good for maintaining monopoly market share.

Of course, we don't have that problem in the CAD market... do we?

LJ Whorfin

Well, it would not be a Warren Buffet value move as you point out, but it does bring in some interesting things for consideration. Integration of CAD to downstream apps and throughout the ecosystem has incredible value. AD has a strong product line and growth projections in a number of arenas. So one really could consider what down stream publishers would benefit, MS is just the most provocative of the bunch.

If one takes price off the table for now, then consider what companies would benefit by incorporating CAD into a larger platform context. What is the collateral sales worth? Would AD or others compile their apps in Linux or BSD – what would that impact be?

Taking this concept at a different tact, say no absorption took place, what would the business model look like to have the same type of downstream impact? What would the partnership eco-system look like?

Although the mix and match of acquisitions can always be provocative in nature… it can not be any more provocative then Oracle buying Peoplesoft or Siebel. These acquisitions seem desperate verses something as strategic as say AD being bought by the likes of MS, IBM or Oracle for its growth in manufacturing alone. Bring in conversions to object based systems from older systems in AEC or the animation side of the house and you have some interesting business models to play with. The concepts are interesting to play around with, don’t you think?

As regards to who owns the data, I have always found the people who pay the bills, if they are smart enough, will be the owners of the data in the end if they can negotiate it. Heck you don’t have to go far to find examples of large companies requiring concessions to get the intellectual property. Hate to say it, but it is getting to be a very flat earth. An extreme example of this is working with smart wired up kids in a grass hut in one of the BRIC countries. In the end, the guys with the bucks will win by you surrendering the data or the guy in the grass hut doing it willingly. Only time will tell – but for now you have some interesting dialog about the subject going – but is it akin to mental masturbation in the long run?


Taking in consideration Oracle's recent shopping spree, I would not be surprised if they were to purchase their Marin County neigbour.

Let's wait and see what happens.


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