I feel like I have been writing about this a lot—but that is because there is a lot happening. In the month of February, the construction-software space saw three new acquisitions in the first two days of the month.
Nimbus, a business-management software, helps secure JDM Technology Group’s position and marketshare in New Zealand. Meanwhile, CostCon is a provider of integrated accounting ERP (enterprise-resource planning) and job costing for contractors in New Zealand as well. Both companies will continue to operate as separate companies.
Quite candidly, these acquisitions didn’t come as a surprise to me. In fact, I would put good money on the fact that the company will continue down this acquisition path in the months ahead, with a focus on expanding globally through acquisition.
Let’s journey back more than a decade, when Trimble was primarily a provider of hardware, offering solutions for the jobsite. In 2006 came the acquisition of Meridian Systems, Trimble’s first foray into construction software. Meridian operated independently for a number of years, but was eventually folded into Trimble’s brand. Next, came a bevy of acquisitions including Tekla, SketchUp, Vico Software, and Gehry Technologies, just to name a few. Soon, the hardware provider found itself as a BIM provider.
Now, the company is eyeing the capital project delivery process once again with the acquisition of e-Builder. This could help Trimble ensure value for both owners and contractors.
In fact, Trimble says its presence in construction has a two-point focus: one on civil engineering projects and the other on the construction of buildings and structures—and both will benefit from the e-Builder acquisition.
The company says the e-Builder business will be reported as part of the Buildings and Infrastructure segment of the company.
This points to a larger trend that is happening in the construction industry. Many of the big providers are acquiring tech players in the space to create an integrated solution set for the marketplace. But perhaps we should look back to see how this has played out for others in the space?
BuildNet is a classic example of a software company that attempted to assemble a completely integrated electronic supply-chain network through acquisitions. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the tech giant—which served the residential construction market—acquired 12 software companies, including UniLink, NxTrend, HomeStyles, TomSystems, FAST, Lloyd’s, and TrueLine, among others, before filing bankruptcy in August 2001. Here is the caveat: BuildNet intended to go public, but was forced to withdraw its IPO (initial public offering) after the dot.com bubble burst.
The initial fear, following all the recent M&A announcements, is there will be fewer products on the market, less competition, and less innovation. But on a positive note, the promise of integrated solutions for the entire lifecycle is one that is much needed in the construction industry today. Time will tell how all these acquisitions ultimately impact the construction space.
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