As they say on Sport Center, Trimble is en fuego, they acquired Tekla earlier with a well documented, well established player, especially in the structural space who also released their own BIM product with BIMsight, and now they are acquiring Sketch Up. While all the SketchUp users are asking, ‘who the hell is Trimble?’ The Trimble folks, or AEC folks understand. Looks to me that Trimble is vertically integrating and surrounding the ‘digital’ building. Someone said to me somewhere along the line that “Leica is an engineering organization that has to sell stuff. Trimble is a sales organization that happens to sell surveying equipment” Anyway you get the gist. Makes one wonder what Autodesk will counter with now that Trimble has crashed the party. Seems like Google has decided to give up the building data market and concentrate in collecting every piece of information that exists about individuals instead. That’s too bad because it would have been interesting to see the Google Machine start to digest all that building data. However, the fact alone that they had 30 million activations in the past year has to give anyone in this space pause, then again it’s free, but free works for market penetration. And honestly isn’t the end game to get a project into your ecosphere and manage it from design to demolition, from cradle to grave and Trimble is starting to put together a pretty compelling environment. Let’s take a look shall we:
Accubid – Cost Estimating Project Management Software : CAD based or screen take offs (acquired by Trimble August 2010)
HHK – GIS and CAD Surveying Solutions For Germany and Europe. (acquired by Trimble January 2008)
Meridian – Capital Projects and Major Renovation Management Software (acquired by Trimble October 2006)
Plancal -HVAC , Building equipment and Appliance Software (acquired by Trimble January 2012)
QuickPen – Provides Pipe and HVAC Estimating Software Solutions, CAD Detailing Solutions for HVAC and Mechanical Systems (acquired by Trimble March 2009)
Tekla – Building Information Modeling (BIM) Solutions (acquired by Trimble
Trimble Business Center – Allows you to edit, process, and adjust data from all Trimble surveying instruments from your desktop
Trimble Connected Community– Web based project management, let’s just call it the “Cloud” based management, at least they should.
So what’s all this Vertical Integration mean? Well Rockefeller or Carnegie would argue it creates efficiencies in the market place, offering you a better product for less money. However, I am more curious to how Autodesk responds. They could argue that Trimble is not a threat because they “Autodesk” are a 3D company, not just focused on AEC. It reminds me of quote from Bob Rosenberg, former CEO of Dunkin Donuts when asked about Krispy Kreme’s rise. This was at a time when Krispy Kreme was hot and expanding everywhere. CEO Rosenberg responded, “we don’t see them as a competitor.” To which you might say, are you kidding me, “DONUTS”, but he followed with “we’re a coffee company they’re a bakery.” And you know what, he was right, but we’re talking about the ownership of buildings in the digital domain, that’s big.
So we see a hardware company, Trimble, acquiring a lot of software. Would Autodesk start to acquire hardware. Although back in the day one of their product managers told me, “we don’t do hardware.” I expect to see more acquistions down the road. FARO, a publicly traded company at about $1 billion could be interesting. Where are the gaps in the portfolio? What’s next?