CAD in 2035 and what would have happened if Dassault had not acquired Solidworks?

CAD in 2035 and what would have happened if Dassault had not acquired Solidworks?

I’ve been catching up on some of my reading follow ups early this week. I found the folloiwng article interesting – Inevitability in Technology by Benedict Evans. The article raise questions kind of “what would have happened if” and how it applies into different fields.

One of these “what would have happened” was related to technological acquisitions. The article brings acquisitions in social media done by Facebook – Whats app and Instagram. Here is an interesting passage and diagram.

That is, Facebook’s successful purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram was not inevitable – it did not flow out of a great preponderance of industry dynamics. Indeed, the dynamics were against Facebook, since the shift to mobile brought new dynamics to social that removed the winner-takes-all effect that it enjoyed on the desktop (push notifications, the shared address book and photo library, and the home-screen icon model all make it much easier to use more than one network on mobile than on the desktop). Facebook didn’t have inevitability on its side.


This example inspired me to think about compatible event in CAD / PLM industry. Here is the one that I was able to come with – What would have happened if Dassault had not acquired Solidworks? Here is the link and the quote from Wikipedia article about Solidworks:

SolidWorks Corporation was founded in December 1993 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Jon Hirschtick. Hirschtick used $1 million he had made while a member of the MIT Blackjack Team to set up the company.[4] Initially based in Waltham,Massachusetts, United States, Hirschtick recruited a team of engineers with the goal of building 3D CAD software that was easy-to-use, affordable, and available on the Windows desktop. Operating later from Concord, Massachusetts, SolidWorks released its first product SolidWorks 95, in November 1995.[5][6] In 1997 Dassault, best known for its CATIA CAD software, acquired SolidWorks for $310 million in stock.[5]

To bring “what if” analysis, I grabbed few market share slides from JPR and CIMdata comparing Dassault Systemes and other CAD vendor revenues.



Graphic Speak article brings data points about Solidworks revenues which can be roughly assessed as $610M for the last 4Q based on the diagram in the article.


What is my conclusion? A combination of deterministic factors combined with luck, skills and mostly important timing can make a difference. To make all these factors work together is not simple and a different decision happened to be taken by Dassault Systemes, Solidworks or another CAD vendor back in 1997, we would had seen a different picture of CAD market than what we have today. We better learn from history. Although, as George Bernard Shaw said – we learn from history that we learn nothing from history :). Is it a time to think about CAD market in 2035? Share you thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


Share This Post