Two days ago, on May 15, Oracle (ORCL) announced the acquisition of Agile (AGIL), a company known mostly for its PLM products, for $495 million. I don’t want to discuss the impact of Oracle in the PLM market here. If you're interested you can find more detail at PC World, LinuxWorld, eWeek, Roy Wildeman, Ralph Grabowski's blog, and S. Sadagopan's blog.
What intrigues me is the impact of this acquisition on the CAD visualization market. Agile purchased Cimmetry, the well known CAD visualization company, in February 2005 for $45M cash. And now (through Agile) Oracle owns the AutoVue product line.
Agile is not exactly an example of a successful company. According to Yahoo Finance, they haven't managed to make a profit in the last 3 years. There are also rumors that the Cimmetry acquisition has not been very successful despite the fact that Cimmetry was a fully profitable and established company.
With the appearance of Oracle the landscape of CAD data visualization is changing one more time. It is too early to say what Larry Ellison’s strategy will be, but the main question is: Can a corporation-oriented company such as Oracle foster the end-user product-line of Cimmetry?
The CAD visualization market is going through a series of important changes. With Adobe recently entering this arena with Acrobat 3D, and now Oracle with Cimmetry, I see opportunities and risks on the horizon.
CAD visualization can find the place it deserves on every desktop of every manufacturing company
The main opportunity is for the entire CAD visualization market to mature and reach its potential of millions of users. CAD visualization software can find the place it deserves on every desktop of every manufacturing company. This can generate important business opportunities even for small companies such as Actify.
The risk is that the small software companies will be pushed out of the market by the competition between the two big players. Rivalry between the two giants could drive the prices down to a level that would not be profitable for small software manufacturers.
Note: Larry Ellison picture is from Gaspar Torriero blog, the composition with AutoVue box is mine.