Nov 21 2018

Autodesk acquires Plangrid for $875m

Surprise consolidation in the construction cloud collaboration space as Autodesk acquires the rapidly expanding Plangrid.

Plangrid logoAutodesk has announced it is to acquire PlanGrid, the San-Francisco-based provider of construction productivity software, for US$875 million, saying it will “enable Autodesk to offer a more comprehensive, cloud-based construction platform.”

PlanGrid software lets general contractors, subcontractors and owners in commercial, heavy civil and other industries work together throughout the construction project lifecycle. PlanGrid software offers real-time collaboration, keeping the field and the office on the same page. It gives builders real-time access to project plans, punch lists, project tasks, progress photos, daily field reports, submittals and more.

“As designing and making converge, Autodesk is connecting project data from design through construction and putting predictive insights into the hands of contractors,” said Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost. “There is a huge opportunity to streamline all aspects of construction through digitization and automation. The acquisition of PlanGrid will accelerate our efforts to improve construction workflows for every stakeholder in the construction process.”

“At PlanGrid, we have a relentless focus on empowering construction workers to build as productively as possible,” said Tracy Young, PlanGrid CEO. “One of the first steps to improving construction productivity is the adoption of digital workflows with centralized data. PlanGrid has excelled at building beautiful, simple field collaboration software, while Autodesk has focused on connecting design to construction. Together, we can drive greater productivity and predictability on the jobsite.”

Proposed Integration

BIM360 logoJim Lynch, Construction General Manager at Autodesk, said, “This acquisition allows us to do more for general contractors, and we’ve got new growth opportunities with subcontractors and owners. We’ll integrate workflows between PlanGrid’s software and both Autodesk Revit software and the Autodesk BIM 360 construction management platform, for a seamless exchange of information between all project members.”

Autodesk and PlanGrid have developed complementary construction integration ecosystems to which customers can connect other software applications. The acquisition is expected to expand the integration partner ecosystem, giving customers a customisable platform to test and scale new ways of working.

Analysis

Update (10.30am, 21 November 2018) – On the face of it, Autodesk is taking out a fast-growing US-based competitor, and improving its offering in the construction phase of projects.

In June 2014 Plangrid saw itself as competing with Bluebeam, Autodesk’s BIM360 application, and FieldLens. It was one of several mobile-oriented construction cloud platforms that aimed to improve site worker access to documentation, drawings and workflows – taking information from the design process out into the field (GenieBelt, Basestone, FinalCAD, and AproPlan are other Europe-based examples).

Given that Autodesk has BIM 360 Docs as part of its BIM 360 suite of applications (see previous post), the Plangrid acquisition appears to be an admission that the Docs application doesn’t offer the streamlined experience demanded by users working on a project site. Autodesk has long supported design collaboration – its Buzzsaw solution was launched around 20 years ago – but such solutions didn’t always integrate well with non-Autodesk solutions used across a multi-disciplinary team. Moreover, the desktop or laptop browser experience of SaaS collaboration platforms is very different to that required by mobile workers who have, in the past 10 years, been increasingly using tablets and smartphones – small wonder that leading AEC SaaS collaboration vendors have invested in acquiring mobile expertise.

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