Sydney, Australia-based SaaS construction software developer ProjectCentre has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by the German technical ERP and BIM software business RIB Software AG. The announcement was made on Sunday 30 September, and is RIB’s second acquisition in under a month.
RIB expanding through M&A
On 11 September RIB announced the purchase (also for an undisclosed sum) of Memphis, Tennessee, USA-based estimating software business, MC². The MC² acquisition was seen by RIB CEO Thomas Wolf as a step towards successfully positioning RIB’s iTWO BIM 5D technology in the US market; MC² customers included some key US industry names, and RIB aims to migrate these top construction firms to its platform.
Similarly, the ProjectCentre deal gives RIB its first presence in the Australian construction market. ProjectCentre founders Paul Hemmings and Tim Clare have retained a 25% minority equity stake in the company, and will continue to head its R&D/Technology and client-facing teams.
I first wrote about ProjectCentre in May 2008, and I talked to Paul and Tim almost exactly a year ago, when we discussed its ‘anti-email’, forum-based approach and other ways in which it differed from competitors such as Melbourne-based Aconex. For example, ProjectCentre isn’t just about project management and document collaboration, it can also be used to track financial changes on construction projects (similarly, RIB iTWO also manages both financial and design data, and US vendors such as Viewpoint [post], EADOC [post] and Corecon [post] also offer close integration between cost and design information). At the time, I said document collaboration had become an easily replicated, commoditised product, and I applauded ProjectCentre for focusing on delivering detailed business-critical ERP-type functionality to its customers.
SaaS plus BIM
Despite competition from Aconex and other local providers including QA’s Teambinder and the Leighton Holdings’ ailing Incite business (post),* ProjectCentre has apparently grown its revenues from $1.4m to $5m over the past four years, and the company anticipates tripling in size from its current 39 staff to over 100 in three years (reports The Australian). The RIB deal will also enable it to begin to combine its project collaboration platform with the building information modelling capabilities of its German majority stakeholder, and ProjectCentre CEO Kevin Davis talks about being at “at the forefront of an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) movement that is vital to the future of the global construction industry.”
The architectural, engineering and construction market in Australasia is beginning to explore building information modelling approaches to project delivery, although the pace of change is apparently lagging behind that in the UK – when I spoke to Josh King of 4Projects’ new Australian partner, Project Collaboration, recently (post), he said “BIM is not a big deal yet in Australia, [but] it’s just a matter of when, not if.”
* Leighton was recently reported (by The Australian, for example) to be selling off some of its non-core IT businesses, including the Metronode and Infoplex operations which support Incite (see Incite Imploding?). Industry sources tell me Incite hosting may be switched away from Infoplex to HP.