Bentley celebrates its customers; provides revenue picture

Revenues are back to pre-recession levels, and the company thinks it may be gaining market share against Autodesk.

Bentley System announced new products, new acquisitions, and new strategies at BE Inspired, a company conference in Amsterdam that brought together some of the company’s top customers with press and analysts in an impressive demonstration of talent and strength. In addition, Bentley CEO Greg Bentley talked about its revenues for the year 2009 and looked ahead to 2010.

Like everyone in the CAD industry Bentley suffered setbacks in 2009, but much of its business remained strong due to large international projects. The theme this year was resilience and Bentley has quite a bit of that. In 2008 Bentley announced revenues close to $500 million, in 2009, it saw a decline to something closer to $475 million. Greg Bentley pointed out that the decline was less than that suffered by the competition.  He claimed that Bentley’s come-back, stronger so far in 2010 in comparison to Autodesk, signals a gain in market share for the Bentley compared to Autodesk in the AEC industry.

Bentley is not a public company so it reports its figures the way it wants to, but it’s notable for publishing regular revenue numbers. Over the last 10 years, Bentley says it has seen a CAGR of 10.7%. Bentley predicts that 2010 will see a return to the run rates of 2008.

Bentley’s management has profitably focused on infrastructure. Similar to the way in which the aeronautic and automotive industries dominate manufacturing in terms of revenue, infrastructure is a broad product category that represents the most profitable areas of architecture and construction. Most of the company’s customers are large enterprises and they’re involved in projects that can change the world. They’re not alone. The company is battling Autodesk of course, Intergraph, and the geospatial giant ESRI, but it has a well-defined market focus that’s helped the company grow faster than the rest of the CAD industry for the last 10 years.

Billas in the Sky
The Villas in the Sky project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia combines residential, entertainment, and business spaces in an integrated complex (Henning Larsen Architects)

It’s focus on BIM, collaboration, and sustainability have opened up opportunities for large projects in international projects. Regions like Singapore, Vietnam, China, and the Middle East are building whole cities and transportation systems from the ground up. Bentley’s message of end-to-end project management is helping it get into those projects.

Bentley tends to acquire companies in markets it wants to grow into. It has done a good job of maintaining the personnel from those companies and therefore the clients in the companies it acquires, but it is routinely criticized for failing to integrate all the disparate products it sells. Bentley’s strategy is to capture the market first, deal with the integration later. As a result, Bentley has a unique and specific tools for key markets in the infrastructure industry.