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Interview With Spatial CEO Jean-Marc Guillard

By Roopinder Tara, November 12, 2012

At the recent Spatial 3D Insiders' Summit, CADdigest publisher had the opportunity to interview Spatial CEO Jean-Marc Guillard.

Jean-Marc Guillard

Q (Roopinder Tara): How is Spatial doing?

Jean-Marc Guillard: Very good.

Q: Do you present revenue figures?
A: No.

Q: Is Spatial financial information included in Dassault’s financial reports?
A: No, we are not allowed to report them. We measure our success by the success of our customers.

Q: You were COO when you came to Spatial from Dassault. Who was CEO before you?
A: Jeff Ray was the CEO of Spatial after he left SolidWorks.

Q: Jeff Ray?
A: When Jeff Ray left Dassault, I became CEO in June. My job is to make Spatial successful -- not worry about when I changed my title!

[Jeff Ray was contacted about this, as I know Jeff but never knew about his involvement in Spatial. Jeff verified that he was CEO, but functioned in title only, from deferring most of the leadership to Jean-Marc.]

Q: When did Dassault Systemes give CGM [CATIA kernel] to Spatial to sell?
A: The first release of the CGM kernel was in June or July 2010. This is one of the reasons why I am here, because I worked on CGM some time ago.

Q: DS bought Spatial about 10 years ago. Why did they buy it? It was not for ACIS, as they kept using CGM for CATIA and Parasolid for SolidWorks. Why did they buy it?
A: I don't know. I wasn't around back then. We can find out.
[A follow up from Spatial PR reveals that "Spatial 3D technologies provided a platform to expand their component strategy" suggesting that ACIS was never by itself tempting to Dassault -- they only wanted Spatial’s infrastructure to be able to sell the CGM kernel.]

Q: Is CGM superior to ACIS?
A: We don't compare them like that.

Q: How do you field that question from a customer, which to kernel to pick?
A: The first thing we consider is the data they want to use, where do they want to go. For instance, in a domain where Dassault is already present, like aerospace or automotive, then it makes sense to go with CGM.

Or, do you want to be compatible with something exists, then maybe ACIS. But with CGM you exchange data with CATIA flawlessly, there is no need to certify the translation. ACIS is very successful for software built for in-house use. For us, the important thing is to beat the competition.

Q: Which in your case is Parasolid?
A: Yes.

Q: Is there a big price difference between CGM and ACIS?
A: It is very similar.

Q: What about the other kernels; for instance, do you see any Granite [from PTC]?
A: Not too much. We see Parasolid or OpenCascade or internally made kernels.

Q: We hear a lot about the new Russian geometry kernel. What about them?
A: We don't see it; we don't hear much about them.

Q: Is there even a need for another kernel; there can't be that many customers needing a kernel anymore?
A: If you do the same thing forever, then there is limited need. But if you consider more and more people trying to change the way to interact with a modeler, then there is room to improve things.

Q: Is SolidWorks going to be a CGM customer?
A: They are doing their own communication. we don't want to interfere with them.

Q: Which customers are using CGM?
A: We can't give any names, because they have not yet given permission to use their names. We have some customers on CGM, but they have not yet released products; this takes 1 to 2 years.

Q: How many are using CGM?
A: A good number; we are getting traction on customers. We launched something new; now people need to discover new technology, evaluate it, make their own plans. So it is 3 to 5 years to make something big. And if they do not speak about what they are doing in 3-5 years, then they never will!

Q: How many customers does ACIS have?
A: Globally, Spatial has 300 customers. We don't break it down further than that.

Q: Will there ever be an attempt to achieve functional parity between CGM and ACIS?
A: At the end of the day, what we want to do is expand our business. So it is not just command parity. What can we do to expand our market, and so for us CAM is a big market.

Q: [Looking around the conference] it seems like ACIS has only small companies for customers. Is that a correct observation?
A: I would not call Mentor a small customer.

Q: Losing Autodesk was big?
A: That was before my time, but yes.

Q: Why don't customers want to say which kernel they use?
A: They don't want to confuse customer, they don't want competitors knowing which components they are using.

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Additional Information

Spatial Website - Spatial's official website.
Spatial Blog - Spatial's blog.

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About the Author

Roopinder Tara Roopinder Tara, TenLinks founder and CEO, has spent over 28 years in the CAD, CAM and CAE business, including roles as CAD manager, senior engineer, manager of a CAD division, editor in chief of CAD magazine, conference chair, professor of engineering and CAD. He has a Masters in engineering and is a registered professional engineer. More...

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