Acquisitions are part of every industry development these days. Usually, it is a major event in the company, product, technology, and business development for both sides. PTC acquired Onshape a few weeks ago. I published my article PTC+Onshape=what happened? I published it just after the acquisition. There are many articles published by media, news, and bloggers since that time. I’ve been watching, reading, and digesting information since that time.
Some notable publications you would like to read or watch- PTC gets more than cloud CAD by Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity.
Chad Jackson made an outstanding work by publishing five videos about implications for Creo, Windchill, Integrity, ThingWorx, and Vuforia.
I like these videos. But something felt missing. Let me talk about it… Five videos have presented the impact of Onshape on five major PTC product lines. The missing part is how the acquisition will impact Onshape itself. Here are some thoughts to share.
Onshape Long Term Vision
In his Why we started from scratch (again) in CAD business, Jon Hirschtick co-founder and CEO of Onshape mentioned five reasons why he and his team have started Onsahpe – the design world has changed, tech changed as well as he felt that nobody is taking on these two challenges. The idea of having CAD run in the browser is the most visible part of Onshape’s long-term vision. To allow engineers to focus on design and not on data management, to allow people to work together – I’ve heard about it during my conversations with Jon Hirschtick as some of the main reasons to start Onshape.
However, the development of Onshape as a platform to expand to other applications is something that can be impacted by other PTC application domains. These apps can make Onshape vision even stronger and broaden it. For example, PTC IoT vision can provide a strong expansion from design to physical products. But, PTC can also take a toll and destruct from achieving visionary goals.
Onsahpe developed a very unique and impressive technology. This is the strongest and, at the same time, the most sensitive part of Onshape. The technology Onshape developed from the ground up created a solid foundation for data management, design, and collaboration. But I guess Onshape technology is not done to cover the full scale of product development. It might be not needed yet. But what will be the future trajectory of the technology? Other PTC technologies will influence it and may affect to shortcut to achieve integration goals and prevent future scaling and development of Onshape tech. This is a very interesting part of future development to see.
Onshape Market Focus
PTC and Onshape most probably do have not overlapping market targets. While PTC is serving mostly larger companies, Onshape initial market focus clearly targeted smaller companies. There are possible options in the market focus for Onshape. During the media briefing, Jim Hepplemann mentioned Solidworks and Autodesk Inventor as two systems taking most of medium size company businesses last year. In my view, it is a sign that Onshape will keep focusing on medium-sized businesses. At the same time, easy access to large companies PTC has can potential creation a deviation and took Onshape from its initial market focus.
In the past, the Solidworks team stayed a long time with Dassault Systemes including Jon Hirschtick and other founders. Keep a team after the acquisitions is one of the most challenging goals. Like it in tango, you need two to make it work. What will happen in the PTC-Onshape dance? Earlier this week, PTC was announced as the best place to work in Massachusetts for the third consecutive year by Boston Globe. It sounds like a good foundation to make the Onshape team to success at PTC.
What is my conclusion? The post-acquisition trajectory of the company and technology is always interesting. It is still very early to say what will happen. Will Onshape technology continue to grow in isolation or will be impacted and, at the same time, amplified by other PTC technologies? What market segment and go-to-market strategy Onshape product and technology will be focusing on? Last, but not least, how the team will be integrated. These and many other questions are still not answered. For a very long time, Solidworks was very much isolated from the rest of Dassault Systemes products, technologies, and brands. Will the history repeat itself or cloud-era will impact also how Onshape will be developed post-acquisition? Not many answers yet. We are going to watch Onshape development in the new few months and years. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a global digital thread platform providing PDM, PLM, and ERP capabilities and new experience to manage product data and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.