After disposing of its US FM operations, Bricsnet is focused on project collaboration and will be consolidating its growing business under the ProjectCenter brand.
I was recently asked: “Whatever happened with Bricsnet?” As the question came from a former investor in the European SaaS construction collaboration pioneer, it was a little surprising.
The Bricsnet back story
Bricsnet was a solution offered by BricsWorks (founded in 1986 by architect Erik De Keyser) which began providing web-based software to manage design and construction processes in the late 1990s, notably, a solution called ProjectCenter (not to be confused with the Australian SaaS collaboration business, ProjectCentre, acquired by RIB Software in October 2012; post). Bricsnet was spun off as a separate company in 2002 – though De Keyser has since continued his involvement with SaaS-based collaboration through BricsCAD/Bricsys/Vondle/Chapoo (2007 post, 2012 post).
Bricsnet eventually became a subsidiary of the Madrid-based Torimbia group (2010 post), being careful to distance itself from an embezzlement case that resulted in a former CEO Ethan Farid Jinian being jailed for 64 months and fined $1.5m in October 2011 (post). It repeatedly sought investment, with a $10m investment round in January 2011 bringing the total invested in the company to around $65m (post).
2012 corporate changes
So let’s get more up-to-date and fill the gaps….
In July 2012, real estate software competitor Manhattan Software announced its acquisition of Bricsnet FM America and its BuildingCenter solution. Craig Gillespie, CEO of Manhattan Software Americas, said “We welcome Bricsnet clients into the Manhattan global family and look forward to introducing them to our entire range of technology solutions”. The Manhattan news release continued: “key team members from Bricsnet will be brought into Manhattan Software to provide continuity and expertise,” and former Bricsnet CEO, David Karpook was one of those who moved to Manhattan Software (release).
“ProjectCenter, a profitable unit of the Bricsnet FM has become an independent corporation fully owned by its long-lasting investor which has overseen the product and customer base growth for the last 12 years. The investment group with interests in Real Estate, energy distribution and technology sectors, with large multinational companies among its customers and partners, has assumed full control of this leading online collaboration solution used by thousands of companies around the world, following its strategy of investing in innovative and high growth potential businesses.”
I contacted Cristina Niculescu, Madrid-based managing director at ProjectCenter-Bricsnet, to clarify the details of these transactions and she confirmed the change of ownership of the BuildingCenter business. In 2010, the company had been targeting the US market with a product described as an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), but it did not achieve the anticipated levels of adoption against competition from strong and less expensive point solutions, while the term ‘IWMS’ did not have the same recognition as facility management (FM) applications, Cristina told me. As a result, the owners let the BuildingCenter IWMS business go to Manhattan, and the associated US business (Bricsnet FM Inc) was subsequently liquidated.
ProjectCenter LLC is a wholly owned US subsidiary of Torimbia, and mainly delivers the project collaboration product ProjectCenter in north America. The Bricsnet name is currently retained in Europe, with Madrid-based Bricsnet Iberia continuing to support ProjectCenter in Europe, south America and north Africa. However, Cristina said the Bricsnet name will eventually be dropped in favour of consistent use of the ProjectCenter brand across all operations.
Meanwhile, focused on project collaboration, ProjectCenter has weathered the global financial crisis and expanded its international reach. Cristina said:
“ProjectCenter has managed to grow in the last years despite the economic problems in Spain and other parts of Europe. One of the positive part of this crisis is that it pushed Spanish companies abroad, mainly to South America but also, to a lesser extent, North America. … Companies were opening offices and handling projects with team members scattered among different countries and continents and they were really forced to embrace collaboration. ProjectCenter is currently used in projects across 40 countries.”
“We noticed an increased interest in industrial and water treatment plants as well as infrastructure, which makes a lot of sense in emerging economies.”
Current clients include the retailer IKEA Iberia, petrol service station company Cepsa, and Petroleos de Venezuela. Power and industrial process plants and infrastructure projects are being undertaken in US, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Brasil, Peru, Mexico, Bangladesh, Oman, Israel, Morocco, Algeria, Angola, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Spain, Romania, Portugal, Italy and Armenia. Much of this international expansion has apparently been achieved through local partners, particularly in south America and Asia.