Freesteel » Battery Ventures hoovers up WorkNC
Battery Ventures hoovers up WorkNC
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 at 1:49 pm
The press release says Vero Software Acquires Sescoi International, but that ain’t the truth. It would be more accurate to say that BV Acquisitions S.à.r.l. (a Luxembourg shell company that probably exists for tax reasons) acquired the company that makes WorkNC, because then people won’t be mislead as to the actual forces behind it. I don’t have any experience in tracking down company data in France, but there are some details of the business here.
I’ve got a lot of historical interest in WorkNC, because in many ways it was the software which started me off. It was sometime in about 1994 where two of us programmers in NCGraphics were driven over to Depo, a factory making these new tungsten carbide insert tools in an industrial estate in northern Germany, and sat in front of a copy of WorkNC and told to make something at least as good as that, but which was designed for running their toroidal depo tools. We travelled to Germany a few more times to closely inspect the software on the strategies it was outperforming ours on (according to the Depo engineers), as well as to learn more about machining strategies. And that’s how we got Machining Strategist off the ground.
Battery Ventures have updated their website to explain their strategy:
From years steeped in Software, the Battery team knew that mature and fragmented markets offered great opportunities for consolidation, and Europe was no exception.
Working from a successful playbook of midmarket software buyouts in the US and Canada, the team set its sites on key European markets, looking for the right situation in which to build a platform
After 9 months of intense research, team focused on the $1B CAM Software market and the universe of companies in that sector, until the one with the right fundamentals was in sight: Vero Software – a market-leading CAD/CAM company with great products, a recurring revenue base and happy customers.
The team recruited Richard Smith as an Executive in Residence, believing his 20 years of experience in the European software markets would help them to successfully diligence the opportunity and ultimately create a powerful platform to consolidate the fragmented market. Richard worked alongside the Battery team to evaluate the company and market opportunity, and build the right strategic plan for a dominant CAD/CAM vendor.
After 15 months of hard work, Battery finalized the take-private of Vero Software and appointed Richard as CEO of the newly private company.
Vero subsequently acquired Planit Software, another UK-based CAM software vendor, roughly tripling the size of the business with very little product overlap [really? --JT], creating the largest independent vendor in the market.
Executive in Residence, eh? Is that like an Artist in residence? What the heck is that all about?
Who knows what it’s like in there day-to-day. The point is to take advantage of the opportunities that flow from a set of businesses that are now under a single management where the workers are allowed to cooperate, and no longer have to interact inefficiently on the open market.
As far as I can tell, there are three strands of consolidation:
A) Consolidation of customers. By reducing competition the customers can no longer shop around and drive better prices and services.
B) Consolidation of financial engineering. While a company like Starbucks has the skills and resources to afford the costs of arranging to pay no tax while obtaining corporate welfare, most smaller companies don’t have this knowhow (they are too busy running their business). It is without doubt that Battery Ventures, whose core competency is finance, has the skills to avoid taxes that the rest of us pay to maintain the quality of civilization their associates have come to depend on. Freeloaders.
C) Consolidation of software technology. This is by identifying the best technologies across all the products and porting them from one to another so that all of the products are improved with very little cost. If Intel took over AMD in 1994 then they would explain how we would get better floating point units burnt into the CPU silicon of the Pentiums.
Clearly, only consolidation of type (C) is beneficial to the customers. So why don’t they demand it? We don’t even get much lip service in that area. In another world where people actually knew what the best software was in the same way that they know what the best whisky is, the press release would go like this:
For many years, Machining Strategist has been seen as having the best offset area clearing algorithms in the world. However its rest area detection scores six points below the quality of WorkNC’s routine on the bug index. We propose to move these functions across to the relevant products for a release to customers by Easter and have put our chief programmer Mr Gnu in charge of the operation. He will be supported by a team of temporary consultants Software Merge Services who are proven experts in the field of algorithm salvage and code quality assessments, with their focus on test driven re-development.
SMS was founded by Hewlett Packard in 2013 with the specific task of finding the one line of source code developed by Autonomy that had any positive end-user value. Here it is:sys.exit(1)
Instead, we get this computer generated abstract waffle:
“We are extremely pleased to be joining the Vero Group. Since originally founding the company in 1987, Sescoi has become one of the world’s key CAD/CAM providers with WorkNC. However, with Vero’s global distribution, additional development resources and proven technology sharing concept, I am certain the products will advance at an even faster pace and continue to provide innovative solutions that boost productivity, bolster competitiveness, reduce costs and improve quality.”
This is just not good enough!