John McEleney: When PTC acquired Computervision in early 2000s, they stumbled upon a company called Windshield Technologies that Computervision had invested in and ultimately acquired. Windshield was based out of Minnesota and founded by Jim Heppelmann. It was the first cloud-based PLM system. The idea behind it is that you can manage data with links and allow the information to be managed in a much easier system.
They had seen waves of different technologies. Jim, to his credit, jumped on the platform wave. One of them, of course, was the IoT wave. He made acquisitions and huge investments in terms of hiring people and made a platform. Another platform that they saw was with augmented reality when they reached out to Qualcomm and purchased some technology.
It ultimately became an augmented reality business. The IoT business was already doing a bunch of work in taking some of their on-premise applications for the cloud. They had initiatives to go and build their own cloud operating system for their different businesses.
With Onshape, they saw the opportunity to stress-test and dive deep into our platform rather than have several cloud initiatives. They realized that they can commonalize that platform and extend it. We rebranded it to Atlas. It requires a vision towards what the future holds. Jim had that.
Secondly, it also requires commitment and investment. With some of the legacy-based products, you’ve to balance that by continuing to improve the product for people. You also have to have a commitment to developing the next generation platform. If you don’t do that, those customers are going to move to that next-generation platform anyway.
Thirdly, once you have the vision and commitment, then you have to execute it by securing the talent and ultimately getting out and building the application. It’s pretty exciting. When we see the situation we’re currently in, we believe it only accelerates the obvious trend for remote workforce management and helps global people work in a more collaborative fashion.
Sramana Mitra: When in this cycle has PTC been able to pull together a version one product with which they could start moving customers off the on-premise systems?
John McEleney: Many of their customers, who have stayed with their core product Creo, have done a fair amount of work in automating their processes internally surrounding Creo. They have made a huge investment and are getting benefits from continual improvements on the core install base product.
We’re not going to all those customers and saying, “You should move to the cloud.” What we are doing is, “You’ve got this product called Creo that we continue to invest in. How do we go and extend what you’re doing with Creo should you want to make the move to a full cloud-based solution?”
There are other things with Onshape that can help you with other parts of your business even if you continue to use Creo as you have integrated it. For example, many of these large OEMs that are using Creo are now looking at Onshape and saying, “How do we connect our supply chain?”