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BIM News: Nemetschek Acquires US-based Design Data—For Structural Steel Design Software

The Nemetschek Group has snatched up another American software company…this time Design Data the makers of the popular BIM-based SDS/2 software for steel design.

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Germany-based Nemetschek Group has acquired US-based Design Data Corporation in late July for an all-stock transaction. 100% of the shares of the Lincoln, Nebraska-based software company were purchased to bring another key US-based AEC software leader into the Group.

About Design Data Corporation

Design Data is a leading provider of BIM software solutions for the structural steel detailing industry and their BIM software suite provides sophisticated and complete solutions that cover the entire steel delivery workflow from structural calculations and detailing to fabrication and erection.

Design Data’s flagship product, SDS/2 Detailing, offers the highest level of automation and intelligence available in any 3D steel detailing package. The company has a market share of about 45% in North America with over 4,000 users worldwide. Founded in 1981, the company has 65 employees. For the past 12 months the anticipated revenue by Design Data amounted to around US $10 million. In keeping with the strategic alignment of the Nemetschek Group, Design Data will continue to be led by its current management as an independent brand company in the future.

An Open BIM Fit

Design Data fits perfectly into the Nemetschek philosophy by enabling collaboration of different software solutions across the building process (Open BIM). At the same time, the Group’s US image as an Open BIM provider will be positively expanded.

01 - As folks can see from a web capture of their home page, SDS/2 Design Data already reads "A Nemetschek Company."

01 – As folks can see from a web capture of their home page, SDS/2 Design Data already reads “A Nemetschek Company.”

With the acquisition, the Nemetschek Group fills a last gap in its AEC portfolio and expands its expertise in engineering detailing software for steel. Nemetschek is now able to cover the complete structural workflow from analysis and design (via the brand Scia), through detailing and fabrication (Design Data) all the way to reviews and markup (Bluebeam). At the same time, the steel structure solution expands on Nemetschek’s current expertise in concrete construction. As a solution provider for steel and concrete, Nemetschek rounds off its competence as a multi-material provider, and can make even better use of its growth potential in the growing BIM market.

Nemetschek’s Growing Presence in US Market

Much like the acquisition of Blue Beam, Nemetschek’s purchase of Design Data expands the Group’s North American presence while helping to expand a US-company’s global positioning via the larger Nemetschek Group network. Design Data’s revenues are 80% driven by its US base.

Due to Nemetschek’s strong presence in Europe in particular, with leading engineering solutions for concrete construction, the market coverage in Europe is ideal for a growth pattern for Design Data in that region. “Design Data fits perfectly into the strategy of the Nemetschek Group. The acquisition accelerates our internationalization, especially in the USA, and reinforces our market position as an Open BIM provider in the building process,” says Patrik Heider, Spokesman and CFOO of the Nemetschek Group.

“For our company, the acquisition means accelerated growth into international markets,” said Damon Scaggs, president of Design Data. “For our customers, it allows them to continue to use the leading software in the structural steel detailing industry, while now benefitting from increased integration with Nemetschek’s software solutions throughout the BIM process. SDS/2 seamlessly plugs into Nemetschek’s architectural and design offerings, while providing their customers access to Design Data’s longstanding manufacturing expertise.”

The purchase price for 100% of the shares amounts to about US $46.4 million (cash-/debt-free). This is supplemented by an earn-out component, which is linked to the increase in revenue and to profitability in the financial year of 2018. According to today’s perspective, an earn-out payment amounting to US $2.5 million is forecast. The financing of the purchase price is provided by taking out of a loan in the amount of US $42 million and also by using the company’s own capital resources. The acquisition is expected to be closed by the beginning of August 2016.

Architosh Commentary

This is the largest acquisition by the Nemetschek Group thus far as it expands into deep engineering territory and expertise. Design Data is a point-focused AEC software provider, much like Scia; companies like this develop concentrated expertise and often commanding leadership. With a market share nearly equaling half to the US market, the largest construction market worldwide, the Design Data acquisition provides a robust base for long-term revenue growth with excellent prospects for European dispersion and high-level global growth.

We have never written about Design Data’s software prior to this. The company recently announced support for European connection design codes and drawing standards with its latest SDS/2 software. Things it will need if it is to succeed in Europe. As for comparisons, Design Data’s SDS/2 is said to have really no other direct competition than other than Tekla, from Finland. Tekla is now apart of the Trimble Group. And Tekla is less expensive. However, SDS/2 has serious devotees. And it has been used on important pieces of architecture, like Frank Gehry’s computer sciences building at MIT.

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