Autodesk’s year of living acquisitively

All divisions—including their new consumer products group—went shopping in 2011. Here’s our list of companies and technologies now part of Autodesk.

By Kathleen Maher

[Editor’s Note: Just after this article was published, Autodesk announced one more acquisition: T-Splines, a Utah-based developer of surfacing design technology. Details in the GraphicSpeak article, “Autodesk acquires T-Splines modeling technology.”]

In a recent meeting with the press Autodesk CEO Carl Bass confessed that during the last twelve months, Autodesk has been even more enthusiastically acquisitive than usual and promised the company would slow down for a while. But, he said, Autodesk is not going to stop acquiring companies because it is an important part of their strategy for growth.

A game interface created using Scaleform technology. (Source: Autodesk)

Here’s a list of Autodesk acquisitions in 2011, compiled by searching Google and Autodesk financial statements and our own archives. Not all of the deals are announced or publicized and we’re pretty sure we missed a few. Links are to articles about the acquisition in GraphicSpeak.

February 17, 2011: Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc., a provider of simulation software for mechanical engineering, for approximately $39 million in cash. Autodesk will use the technology to enable fluid flow and thermal simulations.

March 1, 2011: Scaleform, a UI middleware for video games. Scaleform provides interface technology for game developers.

July 19, 2011: Swedish-based Pixlr, an online photo editing and sharing service. Pixlr will be part of Autodesk’s consumer products group.

July 21, 2011: Illuminate Labs, the maker of Beast (global illumination middleware) and Turtle (a global illumination plugin for Maya) used for video game development.

August 1, 2011: Instructables, a website and platform where users can share their ideas and collaborate with a variety of do-it-yourself projects. Autodesk put the deal price at $32 million. teaches do-it-yourself projects, including how to make this ice/LED ball. (Source: Autodesk)

August 22, 2011: Evolver, with slick character modeling tools that uses a genetic metaphor to enable users to create characters by combining body forms. The company had hoped to sell its products as high-end character development tools in the game and movie industry and when that didn’t work, it turned to avatars. Autodesk says Evolver will help the company expand its work in real-time crowd simulation.

Autodesk will use Evolver avatar technology to expand its work in crowd simulation. (Source: Autodesk)

August 24, 2011: Certain technology assets of TurboSquid for $22 million.

August 25, 2011: Numenus, which optimizes CAD and construction processes by using NURBS technology.

October 23, 2011: MAP (Micro Application Packages Limited), plugin tools used in the AEC industry. Autodesk has said it will help build out the company’s capabilities in fabrication.

October 13, 2011: Dutch company Alice Labs, which has point cloud technology and a product called Studio Clouds. The acquisition will increase Autodesk’s ability to work with large point clouds.

November 6, 2011: Grip Entertainment, which develops behavior control systems for computer-controlled characters in video games.

November 30, 2011: Horizontal Systems, a company which develops cloud based BIM tools.

The acquisitions are pretty well distributed among various Autodesk divisions but it’s striking how much investment Autodesk is making into the consumer market. It seems like a quite a bit and much of it is happening where there is little revenue so far. However, Autodesk is doing a much better job of leveraging the technology it acquires between its different groups including M&E, Design, Manufacture, AEC, etc. For instance, the investments the company has been making in point cloud technology were initiated from the Entertainment side and the technology is showing up in the consumer products, and it’s clear Autodesk will be expanding what it can do with point cloud technology in its CAD line of products as well.