Geo Week News

November 7, 2011

Autodesk acquisition recap

As I’m getting ready for the start of SPAR Europe tomorrow, Autodesk has gone ahead and announced yet another acquisition, this time of AI game middleware firm GRIP Entertainment. Not as interesting to 3D data capture professionals as the Alice Labs buy, maybe, but yet another example of the buying/investment spree that Autodesk has been on in the past year.

Someone’s feeling flush. 

So, just thought it was worth a quick recap of what Autodesk has been up to (as I work on an Autodesk story for tomorrow morning, which is Photofly related).

• Feb. 2011 – Autodesk buys Scaleform – This middleware firm will help Autodesk with its 3D game creation. Scaleform GFx allows development teams to more quickly and easily author game UIs and interactive 3D experiences using Adobe Flash and Adobe Creative Suite software. Roughly $36 million.

• Feb. 2011 – Autodesk buys Blue Ridge Numerics – The simulation software company bring capabilities for predicting fluid and air flow, augmenting Inventor’s, Algor’s, and Moldflow’s capabilities. The CFdesign software allows mechanical and building system engineers to virtually test and predict real-world behavior of new and existing designs and eliminate expensive physical prototyping cycles in the lab. Roughly $39 million.

• July 2011 – Autodesk buys Pixlr – A web-based Photoshop, basically, this handy little site allows for browser-based photo editing. This fits in with Autodesk’s consumer-focused SketchBook line (and, really, if you haven’t used Pixlr, I recommend it. For quick image-editing on the fly, it’s actually easier than firing up Photoshop).

• Aug. 2011 – Autodesk buys Instructables – This is a web site where “makers” gather to show off their stuff and exchange ideas. The buy goes along with Autodesk’s increasing consumer and DIY plays, bringing Autodesk more to the masses. No purchase price announced. 

• Aug. 2011 – Autodesk buys technology from Numenus – This ray-tracing technology allows for interactive rendering directly from NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) data to provide instant, photorealistic design renderings. This should make for more accurate visualization of surfaces and let people spend less time preparing quality visualization data. No purchase price announced.

• Oct. 2011 – Autodesk buys Micro Application Packages – This will augment Autodesk’s BIM portfolio. MAP makes CAD, CAM and estimating software that supports fabrication and construction for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) industry. No price announced. 

• Oct. 2011 – Autodesk buys Alice Labs – This firm got out of the gates with plug-ins for Maya and 3ds Max and brings powerful tools for working with point clouds and integrating photogrammetry. It ought to help in the gaming engine world along with bringing better point cloud capabilities to basically every software package Autodesk makes. Purchase price not announced. 

• Oct. 2011 – Autodesk invests in Gehry Technologies – This partnership furthers Autodesk’s move into the BIM space and gets association with a pretty great brand. Further, it shows Autodesk wrapping its arms around the architecture community as architects start to wrap their arms around Revit. 


So, what to make of this as a body of work? There’s definitely a marketing slant to the acquisitions, a reaching out to the mass marketplace as a way to build the brand as consumers turn into professionals later in life. Autodesk clearly is putting its money where its “everyone is a designer” mouth is. Further, there’s a clear desire to push 3D out into the world at large – they believe they need to be evangelists not just for themselves but for the concept of using 3D in design at a very base level. As they build reality capture into that – and I think we’ll see more development and buys in the reality capture space in the not-too-distant future – it can only be a good thing for those of you working on bringing the real world into your design applications.

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