US-based three-dimensional, or 3D, design software maker Autodesk Inc. has acquired enterprise social collaboration software platform Qontext from Hyderabad-based Pramati Technologies Pvt. Ltd to expand the social capabilities of its Autodesk 360 cloud-based service.
Qontext comes as a ready-to-use hosted service that helps create contextual conversations with co-workers and customers using bookmarks, discussions, photos, videos, polls, documents and the like. It comes for a monthly subscription “as low as the price of a good coffee”, the company’s website said.
Autodesk said it intends to use Qontext technology to add new social capabilities to Autodesk 360, its cloud-based platform that offers users the ability to store, search and view critical design data and improve the way they design, visualize, simulate and share work with others at anytime, from anywhere.
“Mobile, cloud and social computing are dramatically changing the way engineers, designers and architects work. The addition of the Qontext technology to the Autodesk portfolio will lead to new technology innovations that help our customers embrace these disruptive technologies and leverage them for competitive advantage,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice-president of information modeling and platform products at Autodesk, in a statement.
Collaborative platforms that link up the cloud, social media and mobile are much sought after in the enterprise market. This is at least the fifth such purchase in the product space in recent months.
Microsoft Corp. acquired Yammer Inc. for $1.2 billion in July, Citrix Systems Inc. bought Podio ApS for an undisclosed sum in April, SAP AG purchased SuccessFactors Inc. for $3.4 billion in December and VMWare Inc. acquired SocialCast in May last year for an undisclosed amount.
Research firm Forrester Research Inc. said corporate social software will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61% to become a $6.4 billion market by 2016 from $600 million in 2010.
Autodesk said the development team of Qontext, founded in 2009 and headquartered in California, will join its rolls with this acquisition. “This transaction is a significant milestone in our ongoing bid to incubate and build firms that address the rapidly changing needs of business through highly innovative technologies,” said Vijay Pullur, president, Pramati Technologies.
Pramati Technologies was founded as a web technology firm in April 1998 by brothers Jay Raghavendra Pullur and Vijay Prasanna Pullur, who worked with information technology services provider Wipro Ltd. before that. The privately held firm had previously sold Pramati Studio, a platform to build developer tools, to US-based Progress Software Corp. in 2005.
It has incorporated two other firms for each of its products, SocialTwist, a social and referral marketing tool, and Imaginea, a software product and services firm that counts Visa Inc. and Intel Corp. among its clients. Pramati employs 500 people across three locations globally, according to its website.
The deal size and transaction terms weren’t immediately disclosed. Jay Pullur said at a press conference in Hyderabad that the company invests sizeable amounts in its subsidiaries and expects “VC (venture capital) type returns”.
Pramati incorporates each of its business ideas as separate companies and builds them into mature products before selling them off. It typically invests $3-7 million in mature companies such as Qontext. Venture capital firms usually expect 5-10 times return on their investment. Autodesk executives said the deal was in the million-dollar range but did not elaborate, citing non-disclosure agreements.
With this acquisition, Autodesk will open a development centre in Hyderabad, its second in India after Pune.
The 25-member development team of Qontext, founded in 2009 and headquartered in California, will join its rolls after the acquisition, said Soren Abildgaard, senior director, cloud platforms, Autodesk.
Rajiv Shivane, who led the Qontext team, will continue to lead it at Autodesk.
Abildgaard also said Qontext will be absorbed into Autodesk and not be branded separately.
Autodesk is not acquiring the existing customer base of Qontext in this transaction and will not support them, Shanna Tellerman, the company’s product line manager, Web services, said. Pramati will continue to support them for some time, Jay Pullur said.
Pramati is also talking to prospective buyers to sell SocialTwist, Jay Pullur said but did not disclose more details citing confidentiality pacts. At the same time, it is actively considering acquiring a company by the year-end, he said. “It is a reasonably sized deal,” Jay Pullur said.