Trimble acquires green SaaS vendor

Trimble continues to grow its cloud capabilities targeting the whole design-build-operate cycle, acquiring London-based Sefaira.

Trimble has announced its latest AEC software business acquisition: London and New York-based Sefaira, adding this cloud-based sustainability design application to a portfolio already boasting considerable cloud potential.


Trimble logoLast month (20 January) I did a short presentation about common data environments (CDEs) and the current state of the cloud-based construction collaboration market to an audience at the University of Westminster in London (where I am a visiting lecturer). My overview of the market included the usual SaaS players, and vendors better known as design authoring software providers (Autodesk, Bentley, Nemetschek), plus Trimble – who I described as “acquisitive” and “a growing force”.

I based this view of Trimble, previously better-known in the UK for its GPS and mobile hardware systems, on around 10 years-worth of observations of its software expansion:

  • in 2006, the company made its first foray into the SaaS field, acquiring US-based Meridian Systems
  • in 2012, it acquired SketchUp from Google, completed its acquisitions of Tekla and Vico, and consolidated these solutions under its Trimble Buildings banner (post) while also supporting the Open BIM initiative
  • in 2014, it acquired Manhattan Software and then Gehry Technologies’ GTeam (post), and within three months was offering its own cloud-based collaboration platform, Trimble Connect, plus a low-cost mobile project management system, ProjectSight, marketed through its expanding international BuildingPoint business.

Web-based design for sustainability

Sefaira logoThe latest deal adds to its cloud capabilities. London and New York-based Sefaira was founded in 2009 by Peter Krebs and Mads Jensen, aiming to provide a new way to design and create buildings via the web. Its cloud-based analysis platform was voted the most promising new technology at London’s Ecobuild in 2011, and, having raised $10.8 million in funding, the company formally launched the Sefaira sustainability analysis web application in July 2012. This performs whole-building physics-based analysis of water, carbon and renewable energy potential, allowing designers and architects to explore design options, and supports – significantly – SketchUp, plus Autodesk Revit. The application is used by designers at more than 500 firms globally.

Trimble says the acquisition (terms not disclosed) of Sefaira expands its Design-Build-Operate (DBO) portfolio to include tools for designing high-performing buildings early in the crucial conceptual phases of a project. Users can estimate, compare and optimise the energy, water, carbon and financial benefits of different design strategies, helping maximise capital efficiency, minimise energy and water use and create high performing sustainable building designs at low cost. Chris Keating, general manager of Trimble’s Architecture & Design Division, says:

“Architects rely on SketchUp to understand conceptual design choices and develop constructible models. But today, design is no longer just about aesthetics. Architects need to consider building performance in a more intuitive way, and be able to collaborate better with the engineers who design the systems that make buildings work. We have been a development partner with Sefaira for years now, and we are excited to increase our commitment to this space by adding Sefaira’s tools into Trimble’s portfolio of products for building designers and engineers.”

Over the next year, Sefaira and Trimble will work together to integrate Sefaira more closely with SketchUp, 3D Warehouse and Trimble Connect — as well as with numerous products from Trimble MEP.

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