Acquisition of Bricsys by Hexagon ppm

A day after the BricsCAD conference in London, it still dizzies. There are loads of radical innovations and improvements to mention. Then there is the news that Bricsys has been taken over by Hexagon ppm. What are the consequences?

Bricsys is a model of our rapidly changing world. A little over a year ago we wrote a widely read article entitled “AutoCAD? Or just BricsCAD?” That article now feels like being outdated and no longer relevant. BricsCAD has technologically passed that station at a high speed. Where is BricsCAD now?

  • Alternative for Revit when it comes to BIM
  • Alternative for SolidWorks and Inventor when it comes to mechanical engineering
  • Alternative for AutoCAD

This makes it immediately clear that you can do everything in one program with one storage format (DWG). This works better, faster and with the efficiency of one environment. It also means a significant cost saving on education and licenses. Finally, this guarantees the quality and compatibility of valuable CAD files. These are not exactly the standard arguments for buying a software package and it is good to think about it.

Obviously, the acquisition by Hexagon ppm raises questions. Hexagon ppm is very close to the industry with specialist products that fill niches. From this point of departure, it is conceivable that BricsCAD as a CAD platform forms a valuable basis for building many solutions. In fact, people are already working on that. For example, the CADWorx Plant Design Suite was made suitable for BricsCAD last year. Hexagon ppm is therefore no longer dependent on Autodesk and it also works faster and more stable.

Then there is a concern what Hexagon ppm does to the Bricsys team. This team functions under the enthusiastic founder Erik de Keyser as a well-oiled entity. The emphasis here is on the team in Ghent for the general features of the whole and the team in Novosibirsk for the translation of difficult wishes into mathematical approaches and ultimately the code. It is a fragile whole with extremely good performances. It can be assumed that Hexagon understands what “do not change a winning team” means.

What does it all mean for market share? BricsCAD is a small player that has shown significant growth every year. However, it is realistic to say that a substantial market share would take many years to come. Hexagon ppm offers an environment to significantly shorten that path. That leaves no room for short-sighted money-rake constructions for shareholders as Autodesk uses with mandatory subscriptions. In order to achieve this rapid growth, it is also not obvious that prices will rise sharply.

PS After writing this, an interview with Erik de Keyser and Rick Allen was published and more or less confirms this vision. The interview can be found here.