Gaining market dominance through innovation in CAD / CAM software in the cloud

A leading CAD/CAE/CAM software provider was considering developing breakthrough software for on-line visual (OVC) and on-line design collaboration (ODC), i.e. visual and design collaboration in the i-Cloud. The breakthrough would advance the state of the art in mechanical CAD/CAE/CAM visual and collaborative technology, possibly representing a sizable market opportunity. The development decision required making a significant acquisition predicated on resolving several market uncertainties, including:


  • High technological complexity to develop the breakthrough software
  • Unknown size of the market potential, volume, price, penetration rate
  • Many competitors potentially vying for this technology, difficult to read their intention
  • No one player with all the necessary capabilities
  • Sizable acquisition required to achieve necessary capabilities resting with one software company
  • Uncertain achievable market share
  • Undetermined cost structure to serve the market
  • Unknown overall financial attractiveness

We recommended going forward with the technology and the acquisition:


  • The value of the technology to the company was estimated at above $1 billion
  • The company acquired the leading company in Visualization and Visual Collaboration technology for $204 million
  • The acquisition served to round out the required capabilities for OVC and ODC
  • The firm made additional investments of $120 million in IT hardware and software over the next 4 years to roll out i- Cloud capability
  • As a result, the company was able to set the industry standards for OVC and ODC
  • Built technological advantage and industry leadership
  • Denied entrance to direct competitors
  • Established dominance in a $11 billion market
  • Became cash-flow positive in year 4
  • Generated more than $500 million/year in cash by year 7

We performed a strategic assessment of the opportunity.



Identified all required technologies and capabilities to deliver OVC and ODC, ie. the “Technology Stack,” including the following:

  • Collaboration
  • Visualization
  • Abstraction
  • Geometric modeling
  • Translation services
  • Portal services
  • ANX



Identified all customer benefits of OVC and ODC
Verified benefits with potential users
Analyzed market structure, segments. and market share
Estimated the market potential and growth in terms of volume (i.e. number of seats for OVC and ODC)
Estimated pricing based on comparable analysis of customer benefits
Developed market projections and penetration rates based on similar product introductions



Identified roughly 80 competitors in the CAD/CAE/CAM industry
Determined axes of industry profitability
Mapped strategic groups
Identified direct competitors, analyzed these for capability and commitment to OVC and ODC
Singled out Dassault/IBM and PTC as vying strongly for the technology, but lacking Visualization capability



Identified company XYZ as leader in Visualization and Visual Collaboration technology
Established strategic rationale of the client as follows:


  • By acquiring Company XYZ, ABC will accomplish the following
    • Lock in unique technological capability in the industry
    • Define de facto industry standard
    • Establish company as industry leader
    • Provide potential avenue to expand enterprise account penetration
    • Pre-empts entry by competitors
  • By not acquiring Company XYZ, ABC will be put in the following position
    • Denied access to online design collaboration industry
    • Relegation to off-line market, low player position
    • Furthermore, otherwise-acquiring competitor will gain first mover advantage, including
    • Set up competitive war
    • Define de facto industry standard
    • Establish itself as industry leader
    • Gain potential avenue to expand enterprise account penetration
    • Pre-empt entry by other competitors


Valued the acquisition of XYZ at roughly $200 million
Estimated additional investments in IT hardware and software over the next 4 years amounting to $120 million
Developed a discounted cash flow analysis, including revenue projections, cost structure, schedule of investments
Determined the following:

  • the project would be cash-flow positive in year 4
  • the technology would expected to generate $1 billion in free cash flow at steady state
  • Valued the technology at above $1 billion subject to varying risk assumptions
    • Value of $1.1 billion at discount rate of 22%
    • Value of $1.4 billion at discount rate of 20%
    • Value of $2.2 billion at discount rate of 16%