The non-appearance of Autodesk CEO Carl Bass at this week's annual luvfest Bentley Systems puts on for its user base is leading to speculation that the west coast company is preparing to gobble up the east coast one.
A buyout makes sense for these reasons:
-- Autodesk wants into one of Bentley's strongholds, plant design.
-- Autodesk has nearly a billion dollars in cash.
-- Bentley Systems has many large corporations and government agencies as customers, valuable segments that Autodesk would no longer need to fight its way into.
-- AutoCAD already reads and writes MicroStation DGN files; MicroStation already reads and writes AutoCAD DWG files.
-- And, as owners of a private company, perhaps the Bentley brothers are looking forward to retirement, as a commenter speculated on this site.
A buyout make little sense for these reasons:
-- the price tag for Bentley Systems is high: $1.35 billion, based on a 3x multiple of its 2007 revenues of $450 million.
-- Autodesk might have to borrow nearly half that amount, in order to leave some cash in its bank account, at a time when borrowing is tight in the USA.
-- after years of rancor, it would be difficult to merge the two very different corporate cultures. (Could be overcome by leaving Bentley in a Revit-like state "over there").
-- if Autodesk were buying Bentley, Carl Bass would not have been penciled-in for a mere "telepresence" at BE; he'd have been on-stage and among the crowds, shaking hands with his new fanbase.