$180 million minimum bid
Onshape runs on funds from investors, who have put $144 million into the private company. While its' pretty exciting to play with that much money, there is the dark side. The investors want their money back -- with growth, and not too far in the future. Assuming a 25% premium, the company's price tag is $180 million. At least.
Who could pony up that much cash? Well, the appropriate suitor needs to meet two qualifications:
- Have access to sufficient cash or equivalents, such as shares and loans
- Have a need for the software or its equivalent, such as the underlying server-based collaboration technology or the brilliance of its small team of programmers
Other items that usually are valuable in acquisitions are lists of customers, dealers, and country distributors. In the case we are considering, however, these have little value as Onshape is too new to have built up a spectacular number of customers, has no dealer network, and lacks local presences internationally. Being rented by the month is a disadvantage customer-wise, as all customers are free to defect monthly.
Let's look at what the dowry that potential suitors must present to the investor parents:
- Cash-rich. There are four pure CAD companies who have the cash, as well as access to more cash, to make the purchase. Ranked in order of financial size, these are Siemens AG, Dassault Systemes, Autodesk, and PTC.
- Server-needy. Of these four, Autodesk doesn't need Onshape, because it has Fusion 360 competing against it, while Dassault has its V6 monolith that works along the same lines. This leaves two who need server-based MCAD -- Siemens and PTC.
- Acquisitions-inclined. Of the remaining two, Siemens doesn't do CAD software acquisitions, period: it develops all its new software internally. PTC loves acquisitions for filling in the bits of technology missing from its broad reach of software.
PTC buying Onshape? Well, that's one possibility.
Autodesk running Fusion 360 for Macintosh ads against the 'onshape' keyword
Going beyond the initial, narrow criteria of wealthy, needy, pure-CAD companies, let's look at who else might come a-courting:
- FEA company ANSYS has bundles of cash, but they snapped up SpaceClaim, which is far more mature than Onshape and works full-time without requiring a full-time Internet connection.
- 3D printer company 3D Systems has been acquisitions-crazy, but they already own Geomagic and Alibre, and recently swore off further acquisitions -- well, for now.
- All-things-AEC Trimble is also binges on acquisitions, and while it needs a server-based CAD product, I don't know that Onshape is written generically enough to bend it away from MCAD and towards AEC.
- Euro-centrc Vero Software a few years ago quickly collected nearly a dozen CAM systems, and so really needs to compliment them with a modern MCAD system with data management and API hooks.
- Industrial-conglomerate Siemens because, hey, they decided they need a Web presence in MCAD after all, and buying is faster than building.
- Cloud-obsessed Autodesk, because it's angry over Onshape's claims. Could it buy Onshape just to take it off the market?
- Enovia-centered Dassault, because Onshape targets Solidworks users, and this server-based MCAD system handily untangles that five-year-old "Solidworks V6" debacle.
- Or maybe some little CAD company has worked out a financing arrangement sufficient to gobble up Onshape.
- Or maybe the hunted becomes the hunter, and with its cash, Onshape acquires a company whose technology fills in gaps in the current Onshape software offering.
BTW, Onshape is holding a press conference Thursday morning 8:30am Pacific. WorldCAD Access plans to cover it live here.