Nothing like breaking industry news to get your Tuesday started off with a bang. First thing this morning, news broke that GrabCAD is being acquired by Stratasys Ltd., a global provider of 3D printing and addictive manufacturing systems.
Initially perplexed by the acquisition, just one of many in the CAD industry this year, but as more of the pieces fill in the puzzle, it’s making more sense. But first let’s go over the details: Stratasys will acquire GrabCAD for approximately $100 million in cash. Not bad for a company that was founded just four years ago by Hardi Meybaum, the baby-faced Estonian entrepreneur and co-founder who got the ball rolling with the healthy assist of $13.6 in VC funding.
Do the math. Not a bad deal for investors or the folks at GrabCAD. Rumors are that the company was being courted by multiple companies, perhaps even Autodesk, which might have driven up the asking price of the Cambridge-based startup. Perhaps “chump change” to Stratasys, which has been on a bit of a spending spree, buying both MakerBot last year for over $400 million and Solid Concepts early this year for $295 million.
I count myself among many other editors and bloggers in the industry who have taken a liking to GrabCAD and have rooted for the underdogs and their not-so-surprising success. The staff at GrabCAD, which includes some industry heavy hitters from PTC and one of the founders of SpaceClaim, are likable people who seem very passionate about what they are doing. From the start, they set upon the task of addressing industry pain points, such as collaboration and file sharing, by using new approaches.
GrabCAD sells a product called GrabCAD Workbench, a cloud-based collaboration tool that enables engineers and designers to share, view and manage CAD files and other design data. GrabCAD is also home to a community of more than 1.5 million members from around the world who can access a large public CAD file library as well as connect with other engineers. Keeping in mind that the lion’s share of small- to-mid-size companies do not have any type of data management system in place, GrabCAD came about at the right time.
According to the official release, the acquisition is expected to enable Stratasys to provide its customers with enhanced collaboration tools and improved accessibility relating to 3D CAD content. The addition of GrabCAD Workbench provides Stratasys with an opportunity to drive communication and ease of use throughout the 3D printing process and grow its technology solutions and user communities.
“GrabCAD was founded to bring the world’s engineers together and help them collaborate to bring better products to market faster,” said Hardi Meybaum, CEO of GrabCAD. “By joining forces with Stratasys, a global leader in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, we believe we can extend the reach of one of the most exciting and innovative design collaboration technologies available. With its broad and growing customer base and worldwide presence, Stratasys can provide more customers around the world with exciting new solutions to meet their design needs.”
All official strategic, public positioning aside, what GrabCAD brings to the table is a large community of loyal users (1.5 million), engineers and designers who can collaborate and share their work in a secure environment that’s accessible to everyone. It also offers an online repository of free CAD files with more than 500,000 CAD files available for download with a download rate of 50,000/day.
Hard to say what the future holds for the GrabCAD team but they are a talented bunch who hopefully will be left to do what they do best: think out of the box by addressing the continuing pain points of design collaboration and file management while fostering an open innovation platform for designers and engineers to share models and exchange ideas.