March 07, 2011
Bentley’s First Annual Corporate Update, SACS Acquisition and Sustainable Licensing
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Bentley’s First Annual Corporate Update, SACS Acquisition and Sustainable Licensing
By Susan Smith
Bentley Systems held its first annual corporate update this past week, which was not an earnings call, as they are a privately held company. Coupled with that update was the announcement of the acquisition of SACS, an integrated finite element specialized offshore structural analysis software, the launch of iWare Apps to facilitate the use of Bentley iModels, and new sustainable licensing through what the company is calling “annual portfolio balancing.”
SACS 5.3 Results Viewer 3D
CEO Greg Bentley talked about Bentley's 2010 GAAP revenues which were $476 million, for a year-over-year growth rate of 6 percent. Commenting on the company's performance, CEO Greg Bentley said, "I am pleased to report that in 2010, the good work of our colleagues, in combination with that of our user community, enabled Bentley to achieve renewed organic growth, to gain market share, and to emerge stronger than ever. At constant FX rates, our revenues have essentially returned back to our 2008 peak level. While our subscription business model has been the backbone of Bentley's resilience, brands like STAAD, ProSteel, AutoPIPE, and Bentley Map, and sectors like structural, bridge, and
electrical engineering have outpaced the recession by growing substantially throughout. Particularly encouraging was our strong growth in emerging markets, and especially in Asia, where the unprecedented demand for new and intelligent infrastructure has never abated."
In 2010, Bentley also continued its long-standing commitment to reinvesting 20 percent of all software revenues in research and development. Since 2001, Bentley has invested more than $1 billion in R&D and acquisitions.
Bentley also noted that in February 2011, Bentley entered into a new $310 million bank credit facility, composed of a revolving line and a fixed term loan that it used to buy back $200 million of company stock. As a result, the Bentley family and Bentley Systems colleagues together now own fully eighty-five percent of the company's equity. The company's post-transactions net debt to EBITDA leverage ratio is less than 2.25, and post-transactions liquidity available is well above $100 million.
Owner-operators comprise the slight majority of Bentley's enterprise accounts and, since 2005, the company has increased its proportion of revenue from owner-operators from 49.5 percent to 54 percent. This has been the result of the company's strategy to create value directly, and to decrease its vulnerability to the cyclicality of capital project starts.
This motivated Bentley's new "AssetWise" operations information modeling initiative a year ago, anchored by two major acquisitions. Last month, Bentley released eB Insight, the foundation of its AssetWise platform for asset lifecycle information management.
A primary highlight 2010, according to Bentley, was return on investment in emerging markets with Asia where 25% of Bentley colleagues located, reaching 16% of global revenues. Net revenue growth is 16% in India to support infrastructure growth.
“Bentley has achieved exports to greater China, where our revenue have more than doubled in last three years, and are positioned to continue this,” said Bentley. Bentley brands that have grown most consistently even throughout the downturn include STAAD, Bentley Map, ProSteel, and AutoPIPE along with the entire sectors of structural, bridge and electrical engineering.
In the most recent Daratech lead tables, Bentley holds the #2 position in AEC software, #3 position with Hexagon #2 and ESRI #1 in the GIS/geospatial category.
Bentley said that Bentley Systems defines “infrastructure” as everything humans build to improve our planet.
Sustainable License through Annual Portfolio Balancing
“We would rather have our users see their Bentley licensing investment as a sound investment not as an expense,” said Bentley. “With portfolio balancing our users can annually exchange their current applications for a new combination of equal value so when a user organization licenses a single application from Bentley and covers it under the SELECT Program, it essentially allows access to our entire portfolio including new and future products.”
Huw Roberts, global marketing director for building and structural engineering, licensed architect, said in a Q&A session at the end of the call that what the sustainable license means for a firm doing site design work before the downturn, for example, is that this year at their renewal they may have site products but would like to increase their RAM and Structural licenses. “At the time of renewal we show them the value of what they’ve been using and they can morph that into adding to the same value in terms of current list price, which in this case would effectively swap out some of the civil site design products in favor of structural analysis products.”
iWare Apps Released
During the conference call, Roberts pointed out that interoperability is crucial and the company is continually working toward achieving higher interoperability.
Throughout 2010, Bentley advanced the adoption of iModels, which are containers for open infrastructure information exchange that enable interoperability. Now in 2011, Roberts said, Bentley is accelerating the value of iModels by providing apps and plug-ins including those for competitive products that share information required for interoperable operations. “We call these iWare apps,” said Roberts. “Bentley is making these available for free for this purpose. And the launch of Bentley’s iWare apps site at Bentley.com/iWare provides fast and easy access to iWare apps along with links to free training on their use and reference documentation.”
iModel provides integrated structural modeling (ISM) methodology for the creators and consumers of structural project information across multiple vendors’ apps. Most recently Bentley announced OpenPlant offerings, based on ISO 15926 which share and meet the goals of the iRing user community for real time sharing of plant lifecycle data and information across organizations. The new iWare apps site is organized to highlight apps specifically for users of Autodesk Revit, Bentley products and MicroStation and Windows. There will be more iWare apps coming soon.
Roberts expanded on iWare during the Q&A session: “iWare supports the interaction between software that don’t have an industry standard to support that interaction fully. For example, one of the apps up there is an iModel plug-in for Revit that allows an Autodesk Revit user to interact with the integrated structural modeling (ISM) software portfolio and methodology. There is no industry standard to support the level of information needing to be exchanged in that type of environment. Of course, our apps support a broad range of industry standard. We highlight ISO 15926 here but IFCs, LEED, OGC and others are all included, however, the iWare extends that with more
specialized exchanges between apps.”
SACS Acquisition Announced
Anne Marie Walters, marketing director for the global oil and gas industry and the power generation industry, spoke about that industry being primarily for the onshore market to date and the SACS acquisition which expands that reach to offshore oil and gas operations. Greg Bentley said that 70% of the earth lies offshore and is “an ever important venue for new structure types.” Walters actually worked on an oil rig in a past life.
“The SACS is an integrated finite element structural analysis suite of programs that uniquely provides for the design, fabrication, installation, operations, and maintenance of offshore structures, including oil platforms and wind farms. Thirty-eight years of focus on these specialized requirements have made SACS the analysis mainstay for most of the world’s offshore engineers. Virtually all of the world’s energy companies specify SACS software for use by their engineering firms across the lifecycle of fixed offshore platforms,” according to a press release issued on Wednesday, March 2.
Bentley reinvests in 20% of all software revenues in research and development. Since 2001, Bentley has invested more than $1 billion in R&D and acquisitions.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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