Autodesk to acquire Alias for $182 million cash

Tue 4th Oct 2005 | News

In a surprise move, Autodesk has announce the intention to acquire Alias for $182 million cash. The acquisition is expected to take between 4-6 months to finalize.

At the press conference today, both companies explained the desire to integrate and provide value for their respective customer bases by complementing each other’s product lines, which will soon be operating under the common Autodesk banner. While both companies share a clear vision of the possibilities and value proposition for customers, it was obvious that the full details of the acquisition/merger have yet to be worked out as both companies were notably silent about such issues as staffing, relocation, branding and such, preferring to focus on the value of integrating the product lines instead. Doug Walker, President of Alias, mentioned briefly his intention to work through the acquisition process till it is finalized, before moving on to other ventures.

In the immediate term, no changes are planned for both companies, which will continue with their respective product releases while the acquisition takes place over its 4-6 month period of settling. It was also said that the products in the immediate term were to remain separate and autonomous, with a development focus on integrating workflow and interoperability between the previously competing products.

For the Autodesk Media and Entertainment Division, attention will be given to making 3ds max and Maya complement each other through ‘improving the operability and workflow between 3ds max and Maya’. It was made clear that there are currently no plans to drastically change any feature sets in Maya or 3ds max, and no mention of an immediate product integration/merger (though one would expect the technologies to be unified in future).

Autodesk’s intention is to place the respective product lines in appropriate divisions, for example, Maya and MotionBuilder will be placed in the Media and Entertainment Division, while Studio Tools may come under Autodesk’s design division. Martin Vann from Autodesk says, “Our intention is to follow up with customer needs. We want to place the Alias teams in the respective divisions that match product integration thinking.”

Overall, the acquisition of Alias looks like a tremendous value proposition for both companies. Alias, the smaller player in this deal, will be able to leverage on Autodesk’s vastly superior distribution and marketing channels worldwide, meaning that its products will reach beyond the current geographical and service constraints. It also means that Alias will once again have a massive financial backing which it has not enjoyed since the glory days of SGI, giving it the cash injection to develop highly desirable products.

For Autodesk, the acquisition means that it will own a sizeable portion of the entertainment and design industries. For years, 3ds max and Maya have competed fiercely for a bigger slice of the entertainment pie in film, games, television and animation production. The plan as noted by the company leaders is to ensure that customers will have end-to-end solutions covering all aspects of media production from 3D content creation (Maya, 3ds max, MotionBuilder) to compositing (TOXIK, Combustion, Inferno, Flame), color grading (Lustre) and finishing/delivery (Fire, Smoke). Ultimately, it’s about delivering solutions and value to customers.

The press conference was very light on details, as both companies have yet to finalize the full scope of the acquisition. For the next 4-6 months, it’s business as usual for Autodesk and Alias.

Main points:

  • Autodesk purchases Alias for $182 million cash
  • The deal will take 4-6 months to finalize
  • *Business as usual while merger is finalized*
  • Focus on integrating workflow and interoperability between the products
  • No immediate plans to cull any product lines, but continue them as per normal
  • Both companies to continue normally with mutually exclusive product releases as planned
  • Alias to leverage Autodesk’s massive distribution and marketing channels

Official Quotes:
“This acquisition brings to Autodesk a highly talented group of individuals, a wealth of technologies and a great set of products,” said Carl Bass, COO of Autodesk. “Alias’ technology spans several of our most important markets and augments the synergy between our design and media businesses. Our design customers are demanding more powerful visualization, animation and publishing capabilities. Our media and entertainment customers are increasingly using the data created by our design applications for broadcast, film and games projects. By combining the technology and talents of our two companies, we will be better able to continue delivering solutions that address our customers’ complex needs.”

“This acquisition is designed to leverage the strengths of both companies,” stated Doug Walker, president and CEO of Alias. “Alias’ customers will benefit from nearly $300 million in R&D spending while having access to new and complementary products and technologies. Together, Autodesk and Alias will deliver products and services that give form to great ideas from the fantasy world of film to the factory floor.”

Related links:
Autodesk & Alias Acquisition


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