Freesteel Blog » The business of doom

The business of doom

Monday, May 21st, 2007 at 3:55 am Written by:

Our news system is bad. It’s under-resourced, out-sourced, and used for the benefit of its owners, the corporations. It’s not censored, because in the West access to the press is open to all — like the Ritz hotel.

So, let’s take a story: Parametric Technology Corporation has suddenly purchased NC Graphics, my former employer for whom I wrote a large portion of a 3-axis machining kernel.

(Some people don’t think I was instrumental in this endeavor. So while the suits who are running the world’s CAM corporations have been scrapping over various copies of that particular piece of code, I have in the meantime contributed several new and superior algorithms into another 3-axis machining kernel. So the case has been established beyond doubt. But what damn right do I have to know more about software than the people who own it, eh?)

Anyway, the purchase of NCG was announced on the PTC web-page on May 16, 2007. Three documents: an FAQ (which nobody read), the thousand word Press release (which everyone copied from), and a cluttered up 18 frame slide show.

May 16

The news showed up on 5 webpages.

Bizjournal lifted 2 paragraphs from the press release, Les infos translated them into French, and BusinessWire took the whole press release word for word.

MCAD Cafe also repeated the entire text, but included the contact details for Nicole Rowe of PTC and Amanda Keane of Weber Shandwick. Shandwick is a massive PR corporation whose New Zealand office in 1999 leaked a large quantity of documents which formed the basis of the book Secrets and Lies. If you want a company to corrupt politicians, fake citizen’s front groups, cover-up for attempted murder and lie through every channel of the media in order to strip your country of its last pockets of native forest, they’re your guys.

Finally, Ralph Grabowski sensibly ignored all the choss in the press release, and quipped:

PTC continues to acquire companies on the periphery of CAD, this time CAM [computer aided manufacturing] software maker NC Graphics and its 15 employees located in England. Welcome to New England!

May 17

CIO in Bangalore, helping to copy text from a computer in Massachusetts to my one in Liverpool, moved the sentence: “the acquisition of NC Graphics is in direct response to customer demand for specialized CAM capabilities” down one paragraph.

Money control controlled its costs by giving us another identical replica of the press release. And so did The Manufacturer.

The day ended with one bright ray of information from Managing Automation where Stephanie Neil squeezed from “officials” the allegation that:

The deal…, valued at less than $10 million, broadens PTC’s design product suite and aligns the company closely with the needs of toolmakers, 65% of which are small or mid-size businesses…

(It’s been suggested that one reason they haven’t disclosed the price is that the deal is messily complicated, so doesn’t reduce to a flat figure.)

Ignoring the designated inquiries talkers Nicole Rowe, Chris Brown, and Meredith Mendola at the bottom of the page she phoned Sandy Joung and got:

The existing [Pro/E] CAM software addresses production machining, but does not offer functionality specific to mold and die manufacturers. “[I]t is not purpose-built for high-speed precision machining capability,” said Sandy Joung… “This product is fast in terms of execution speed… It is multi-threaded to improve productivity. While you are creating a machining program and calculating it in the background, you can be doing other things in the application, like starting new jobs or working on multiple designs.”

“Also, putting it in the context of our portfolio and [customer] needs, the value proposition for PTC is that once we’ve acquired a product, we make sure it integrates with … our portfolio so that we don’t have a collection of point solutions.”

This particular website seems to provide more than the normally provided nothing added. Unfortunately, since all the websites except Grabowski’s look the same — infested with shite ads — it’s hard for people to notice the difference. I could tell because I’m running SequenceMatcher on the text. Most visitors won’t know. Recommendation: If you are different, you should look different.

May 18

Cadalyst moved the sentence “in multiple discrete manufacturing vertical markets” down one paragraph. And SDA-india changed the phrase “has acquired NC Graphics” to “has plans to acquire NC Graphics”.


And that’s it. You wonder what’s the point of the business press if it’s mostly just echoes of the same lifeless corporate text. Many of the web-pages have a “Rate this article” and an “Add your comment” form, and I don’t know why. The point of this so-called “news” is for share-holders. They know nothing about the companies they own, they are told nothing about the companies they own, and they base their prices for buying and selling on no information. It’s no surprise that this happens in what is an utterly cynical and empty profound waste of human effort.

Stephanie Neil says that PTC has the goal of becoming a $1 billion company. The 2006 annual report gives it a aggregate stock market value of $1.78billion and revenue of $855million with 119 offices around the world out of which work 1,145 sales and marketing people, 1,307 in customer support, 420 in administration, and 1,437 in product development. You are only part of a number.

So let’s say they get their goal. What next?

“we have established a new goal for 2010: $1.5 billion in revenue and 22% Non-GAAP operating margin.”

Well, blow me down. That is so inspiring.

What’s most important, what it’s all driven by, is the result that the five guys with the power are compensated for their suffering with approx half a million dollars salary, half a million dollars bonus, and one million dollars stock options each year. That means they’re winners. Unless they compare themselves to their friends on ten or twenty million dollars a year. There’s no such thing as enough.

I’m genuinely baffled as to what you do with that kind of money. I mean, you can use it to help pay for 48 kilograms of unsecured highly enriched Uranium to be shifted from a derelict nuclear weapons plant in Serbia to somewhere safe.

Or we can work from the fact that the US Government prefers to spend its money buying PTC products to manage it’s vast stockpile of nuclear massacre machinery, and realize that something positive like that isn’t going to happen. Standby for further production of sports-cars, swimming pools, and mansions. That’ll move things forward in this world, won’t it?

So where does that leave us? Tonnes of money in the hands of a small group of people where it’s not going to do any good. And a very few number of low-budget programmers doing what they can to avert war whilst scraping together a living by inadvertently contributing to the military-industrial complex and its ability to manufacture yet more killing machines.

This — the whole lot of it — is a vast misallocation of resources.

The species is doomed.

Our social failures are systematic on the macro level.


  • 1. Neel D replies at 21st May 2007, 5:30 am :

    On September 28th 2002, the Company acquired the Machining Strategist 3D CAM business of NC Graphics (Cambridge) Ltd. and Arthur Flutter of England . The acquisition included goodwill, interests in copyrights , transfer of 8 staff including the development team employees, transfer of 8 foreign dealer agreements and UK based end-user customers. Total consideration was 1.25 million pounds (approximately $1.87m) with 1.0 million pounds (approximately $1.5m) being paid in cash and 250,000 pounds (approximately $0.37m) in ordinary shares of the Company. Proceedings have been initiated against the Company by NC Graphics (Cambridge) Limited (‘NCG’) for the payment of disputed invoices
    arising from the acquisition by the Company of NCG’s Machining Strategist business, totalling $172,000 It is the Directors’ view that this claim is without merit and the Company has advised, through its solicitors, of its intention to vigorously defend this claim. The Company has notified NCG of its intention to pursue, as part of these proceedings, a counterclaim for substantial damages arising from NCG’s failure to comply with certain terms of the agreement relating to the acquisition of the Machining Strategist business.

    What Staff has PTC acquired ? What happens with NCG code with Vero ?

  • 2. Julian replies at 21st May 2007, 2:36 pm :


    I presume you found that text at:

    It’s always wise to report the url to make clear that this blog is a cipher to what is legally public yet very obscure information.

    AFAIK this was just a dispute over the small change. I didn’t have a blog at that time, or I would have reported some other developments which have since blown over and don’t get published because it’s not now in the interests of any parties to mention them. This attitude of confidentiality is endemic through all business, and my experience greatly informs my understanding of the psychotic psychology.

    What actually resulted in 2002 was that the code-base forked between NCG and Vero. Following this, you had two development teams in the same town duplicating the work of debugging the same code-base twice. A highly inefficient gratuitous waste of precious intellectual capital that made perfect business sense.

    I always thought this was unique, but learnt recently of another case of a CAM kernel being forked, and I understand that a previous NCG product which contained what we could now call a CAM kernel was forked in the 1980s with Hurco.

    I know nothing more about the PTC deal, or what happens on the ground. I’m not there. The people who are there are far too grown-up and responsible to tell me anything.

  • 3. Freesteel&hellip replies at 7th October 2012, 10:11 pm :

    […] seen this performance before from the finance press with the 2007 takeover of NC Graphics by […]

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