What can $875 million in cash buy you? How about one of the best construction software companies in the world, PlanGrid. Some may think this is a good thing since Autodesk certainly has the ability to reach millions upon millions of AEC professionals and this will help the construction software monopoly reach their unstated goal; "To be the one and only AEC software in the world".
Looking back at the history of Autodesk acquisitions, including one of its first in Lightscape (arguably the best rendering software of its time), Softdesk, Discreet, Softimage and Buzzsaw, one has to wonder the fate of their new acquisitions. All of these products were stripped away, and inserted into their other products and never heard from again. However, then there are products like Revit and Navisworks whose purchase actually elevated the software and changed the state of design and construction as we know it, were truly fantastic purchases. How about Autodesk's purchase of Assemble Systems back in July? It is still too early to tell just how it be integrated into their BIM 360 family of products, but I get a little nervous when I see two purchases like these so close together.
Getting back to PlanGrid, the beauty of the software was that it did not rely on any other software. It was purely cloud-based with a portal via its apps. You didn't have to know, CAD, Revit, Navisworks, or any other software. Given the infrastructure required to host and operate day-to-day and project-to-project tasks, it will be interesting to see how this will be implemented. The real question one has to ask is, "which Autodesk package will the PlanGrid belong to"? Will it be the BIM 360 family of SAS or will it become a piece of the relatively newly rolled out AEC Collection? Only time will tell.
While on the topic of acquisitions, I believe BIM Track will be one of the next acquisitions of Autodesk, which will truly break my heart. You see, companies like Assemble Systems, PlanGrid, and BIM Track rely heavily on customer interaction, around the clock technical support (with a human), and people that truly want to create the best possible software they can. And they do that by listening to their client-base. Something gets lost when smaller companies are bought by the big boys. People seem to stop caring about the customer. Autodesk is notorious for poor customer support, terrible support, and my favorite; "try reinstalling the software".
Let me know how you feel about the latest acquisition!