Today Bricsys announced that it has acquired the intellectual property of Ledas. The IP includes:
- LGS 2D – A 2D geometric solver
- LGS 3D – A 3D geometric solver
- Driving Dimensions – Constraint based parametric modeling plug-in for SketchUp
- RhinoWorks – Constraint based parametric modeling plug-in for Rhino
Now you may wonder why on earth is a company like Bricsys getting into the geometric solver business. The thing is Bricsys used Ledas’ technology to add direct modeling to Bricscad (see “Direct Modeling In Bricscad V12“). If you are really interested in the nuts and bolts of how direct modeling was achieved using LGS 2D and LGS 3D you will need to dig a little deeper and read my post titled “Variational Direct Modeling“.
Bricsys and Ledas started work on this project a long time ago. I know that because I was “involved” in the initial discussions between the two companies. It feels great to see that something valuable came out of the cooperation.
Now that Ledas technology has proven itself to Bricsys, the company has taken a step further and has bought the technology from Ledas. The idea is to enter into the MCAD space and create other applications on top of the Bricscad platform. Like I said in my blog series, Bricsys is changing direction.
I visited Ledas in Novosibirsk, Russia, last year and was quite surprised by the kind of research work they were doing. Just about everyone in the company is a PhD. In fact Ledas recently concluded a twelve year research and development contract for Dassault Systemes which included embedding its solutions into CATIA and stuff involving computational geometry, advanced geometric constraint solving and real time polyhedral operations.
When it comes to technology, especially the kind of technology we are talking about here, people matter. A lot. So Bricsys has done something more than just buying technology from Ledas. They have created a wholly owned subsidiary in Russia called Bricsys Technologies Russia and have hired Dmitry Ushakov as its CEO. Dmitry was recently appointed as the CEO of Ledas and is the brain behind Variational Direct Modeling. Dmitry will continue to serve on the board of Ledas, which will get a new CEO. The CTO of Bricsys Technologies Russia will be Alexey Kazakov, the person who managed the Bricscad direct modeling project for Ledas.
On its part, Ledas will continue its business as a research and software development company and has signed a service agreement with Bricsys to further develop the technologies acquired by the Bricsys. Ledas will set apart a certain number of developers who will work solely on the direct modeling and 2D/3D constraint system in Bricscad. This team will grow in time as Bricscad gets more into 3D.
I asked Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser whether he would continue to license LGS 2D and LGS 3D to other software companies. He replied, “Sure, we intend to grow that part of the business“. He went on to explain the logistics of his new geometric component business. The support and services related to LGS 2D and LGS 3D would be provided by Ledas and things would run like they do now with the only difference being that the royalty payments would go to Bricsys, now that the IP belongs to them.
The other thing is why did Ledas sell its IP to Bricsys? We get a sense of this in a blog post by David Levin, the Chairman of Ledas, titled “Providing geometric solvers (be it Siemens PLM or LEDAS) is cool but became not so profitable“, in which he concludes:
Those who are able to develop an industrial technologic component of a DCM/LGS type are very probably smart guys. And yes, a vendor of such components justly gets some good additional points to the market rating of its company. Also, if such a vendor itself intensively applies its own technological components in its own mass products, this may become an important competitive advantage. My opinion is that distribution of such components today can hardly be a proportionally serious part of a successful business. However, in the long run, much depends on the sales skills.
On the other hand, those who succeeded in development of advanced components can likely be efficient providers of program development services – be they related to the maintenance for such components or to the development of whatever advanced programs in engineering software or beyond. But this is another story…
I’m curious to know whether Bricsys bought the Ledas IP to be in charge of their own destiny or to make a successful business out of licensing geometry components. I say this because Bricsys had a bad experience with the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC) over the development of IntelliCAD. Bricsys left the ITC and started their own development because they were fed up with the way and speed that the ITC was getting stuff done. They ended up rewriting Bricscad from the ground up, a process that took them years. So my feeling is that Bricsys doesn’t want to be critically dependent on a third party going forward.