Autodesk Acquires HSMWorks – What it Means to You!
The recent acquisition of HSMWorks by Autodesk creates a very interesting scenario for both AutoCAD and SolidWorks users. On the face of it, one might be lead to think that this is a pre-emptive acquisition bent on market domination. It’s also been speculated on some postings that with the new ownership, there is some likelihood that we’ll see less capable or timely integration of future versions of HSMWorks with SolidWorks, to the benefit of AutoCAD. All nefarious competitive plots! And then there’s the whole problem of resellers getting put in the middle of the tangle. That’s a lot to analyze all at once! So let’s devolve the multiple scenarios and look at them individually.
From a pure AutoCAD user perspective, improved CAM solutions and ones that have a large number of knowledgeable end users add to the value of AutoCAD as a platform. This is a classic product line extension acquisition if you look at it purely from this limited perspective. Playing the long game, this makes a great deal of sense, especially if Autodesk can bring quality and discipline to the HSM Works product releases in the future.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the competitive dynamic that is a reality between SolidWorks and AutoCAD. And this is where it gets interesting. The knee-jerk reaction is that this transaction is AutoCAD effectively putting a “stick” in SolidWorks’ eye. It makes for emotional blogging, but boards of directors and shareholders look at money, not emotion. For this reason, I think the analysis has to take a different view:
- Acquiring HSMWorks gives Autodesk an important point of product parity.
- Autodesk now knows where a large number of competing users are, via HSMWorks customer list, and this provides a marketing opportunity for adding Autodesk products into that user group. Don’t look for a “throw out your SolidWorks” sales campaign. That’s shortsighted, and doesn’t work anyway. If Autodesk takes the long view of “yes, and…” and starts generating revenue in small increments from what used to be a closed off customer base, it’s a big win.
- Buying HSMWorks to hurt SolidWorks would cripple the company’s revenue stream, and isn’t a financially viable option. It’s a waste of capital. If you take the view of maximizing profit or shareholder value, as this analysis does, the outlook is a rational business growth strategy, not an emotional competitive strike.
The level of emotional commentary surrounding this transaction is not surprising. However, one needs to evaluate it like a business transaction, not a war between two camps. Long term this event will result in a stronger AutoCAD and a less enviable competitive position for SolidWorks, barring other changes. But, it’s not the end of the line for one side, or world domination for the other.