Vectorworks Acquires ConnectCAD

Chatting With Dr. Biplab Sarkar, CEO at Vectorworks, Inc., regarding the recent acquisition of ConnectCAD

You recently announced the acquisition of ConnectCAD, a longtime plug-in for Vectorworks software. How did that opportunity come about?

The acquisition is complete as of August 7, 2019. ConnectCAD has been a tremendous partner product during the past decade, and with the growing audio needs of our customers, and our desires to continue our progression into offering solutions to the AV market, we felt it was a natural fit.

The application itself is described as a systems design solution geared for AV. Tell us a bit more about features that benefit production professionals.

That’s correct, ConnectCAD is a systems design solution geared for AV installers and the broadcast industry, as well as those that work with low-voltage systems. Further, ConnectCAD ensures that as-built drawings and cable lists exactly match the completed cabling architecture, which can avoid expensive or even impossible reworking with other methods.

It seems as if the acquisition of ConnectCAD will be more to address the needs of your audio customers at first. Can you explain a bit about that, or are you focused on multiple markets, given the software’s capability?

The driving force for the acquisition was to get our foot in the door of the AV installation market. This will help us not only better serve those that do AV installations, but also those involved with broadcast and systems designs. The capabilities of the Vectorworks Spotlight product—plus the capabilities we’ve added in other new modules and acquisitions—has helped us to evolve our product offering into one that is built to be a total design and production solution for the entertainment industry.

Will ConnectCAD remain at the plug-in level or be fully integrated into the various Vectorworks offerings?

Today, ConnectCAD is a series of plug-in objects and commands that are packaged as a module on top of Vectorworks. We will continue to offer ConnectCAD in this way. It will be sold as a product module that can be added to Spotlight or Designer licenses. ConnectCAD is presently compatible with Vectorworks version 2019, and we anticipate offering our first compatible version with Vectorworks 2020 in mid to late November this year. As part of the 2020 version, ConnectCAD will have converted most of its tools from VectorScript into our SDK, which will offer greater stability, and improved performance in the tools. It will also be using the licensing and protection system of Vectorworks, and users who are interested will be able to purchase from the Vectorworks website, or by calling any of our direct offices or authorized distributors around the world.

ConnectCAD founder Conrad Preen is joining Vectorworks with the deal. How will he be integrated into the current company structure?

Conrad will join our R&D team, and he’ll play an active role in the future integration of ConnectCAD into Vectorworks. Additionally, Conrad will help with the introduction of new features for this module. We’re grateful to have Conrad’s experience and foresight on board as we broaden the ConnectCAD capabilities and make additional plans for expanding our AV offerings.

How does the acquisition contribute to Vectorworks’ future plans for growth?

Here are the potential future development opportunities in no particular order:

  • Ability to access ConnectCAD drawings and reports on the go
  • Taking many of the new paradigms and technologies offered in Vectorworks and applying to ConnectCAD
  • Extend ConnectCAD towards cable path design and estimation, designing networks of ducts that carry the cables from one part of the building to another
  • Broadcast and AV tools that help in designing the IP networks to carry data

How does Vectorworks evaluate opportunities for partnerships or acquisitions?

We evaluate partnerships based on the value partners bring to our existing user base, the possibility of improved workflows for our customers or new audiences a partner can help us reach. Often, over time, we see the partners who have become quite successful in providing value to the Vectorworks community, and we evaluate the quality of the product engineering, and how it fits in our future roadmap plans in order to make decisions on potential acquisitions. This has worked well for us, particularly within the entertainment design industry. ConnectCAD had a very good product, that evolved over time, and provided clear value to our users. We look forward to a smooth transition with our longtime partner, and many great things to come for the AV sector.

How, if at all, will this streamline Vectorworks business model?

As we continue to invest in acquisitions for the entertainment industry, we are building a well-rounded portfolio of products. In the coming years, this will lead to us building stronger connections between the products, modules and even specific tool sets. It will also lead to us exploring new concepts for how we deliver the suite of products for the entertainment users in a way that provides flexibility when purchasing and continued support for their workflows.