How Onshape Will Help PTC Capture The CAD Cloud

J.C. Kuang, Analyst J.C. Kuang, Analyst Enterprise Transformation, Enterprise xR Intelligence Service, Insight Articles, Software, Venture Capital, Private Equity, and M&A

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This week, PTC, the global IoT software and services company, announced the acquisition of Onshape, a leading provider of computer-aided design (CAD) software-as-a-service solutions for $470 million. PTC’s acquisition of Onshape adds significant value to the company’s offerings, especially its flagship software products for product lifecycle management (PLM) and CAD. 

One of PTC's earlier acquisitions, Creo, has grown into a central pillar of its on-prem CAD business. Image courtesy PTC.

The deal represents the largest disclosed acquisition in dollars by PTC in decades, and follows the acquisition of Dutch augmented reality services provider TWNKLS in July 2019. While both companies provide different products, the significant overlap in target markets such as construction and marketing ensures that both will provide significant value under PTC’s leadership.

Our Analysis

Onshape’s unique value proposition lies in its versatility; as a mobile-oriented platform with robust tools for mechanical and industrial design, and a disruptive freemium-esque business model, the platform was well-positioned to capture market share from competing CAD solutions and establish a long-lasting user base by appealing to a newer generation of engineering and design professionals. 

Executive leadership from PTC frames the acquisition add a major strategic move towards providing clients with more options for a highly scalable and feature-rich SaaS-based product development solution. However, CEO Jim Heppelman also stressed that the acquisition would have no measurable effect on the ongoing market performance and first-party support of PTC’s core business, specifically its Windchill and Creo products. While both products have captured significant business from industrial PLM stakeholders, the company appears to be aware of its need to innovate further and bring more established legacy products in line with the mobile ad cloud-oriented positioning of newer products and markets, such as augmented reality.

Overall, the acquisition of Onshape is representative of PTC’s ongoing push towards refining its product offerings in response to the evolving landscape of enterprise software solutions. Increasingly common trends in such as virtualization, continuous delivery, and hybridization are indicative of a collaborative, cloud-native product landscape, which PTC is becoming increasingly well-equipped to occupy.