home - about - advertise     

Rhino Feature

The Way of Rhino Part 2: Behold the CAD Whisperer

excerpted from

Full article is available for a fee

Randall S. Newton, September 14, 2007

See Also

   Rhinoceros website
   Rhino Reading Room - at CADdigest.com

Money is like water, it flows along the path of least resistance. To move either in a specific direction, you must either provide an unobstructed channel or give it a push. When Autodesk started selling drafting software for $1,000 in 1982, it created a wide open channel for money to flow out of the pockets of computer-using drafters everywhere. Twenty-five years later, AutoCAD rules 2D.

The marketplace likes standards, and it has one in AutoCAD and DWG. So why, asks Bob McNeel, if the market likes standards so much, and the money so clearly voted for AutoCAD as the 2D standard, is there no clear winner in 3D? That is just one of the many questions that keep McNeel, CEO and co-founder of Robert McNeel and Associates, from spending more time riding his ten-speed bike.

The answer, McNeel muses, comes when you look closely at the sales and marketing models of today’s leading CAD firms. In the last five years, he says, CAD users spent $50 billion, helping the CAD industry achieve $5 billion in market capitalization. Most of that $50 billion came from existing users, who long ago made their software choice.

Behold the CAD Whisperer

The way Rhino enters a market is to release its software and then do the CAD company equivalent of standing around waiting for the horse to respond. No fancy ads in magazines, no big multi-city user campaigns. If the users want to gather to talk about the software, let them organize the meetings themselves. McNeel does exhibit at industry conferences, usually with a local dealer or third-party developer. The booth is always short-staffed, so that existing users and potential users will meet, socialize and take care of business. It is much cheaper than filling a booth with employees, and the existing users tend to be better sales people.

Refusing to spend a high percentage of revenue on sales, marketing, and administration turns out to be very liberating. “By making Sales and Marketing and Administration more efficient, can we spend the savings on increasing user productivity? Can we spend it on development, support, and training?” Bob McNeel asks rhetorically. “Shouldn’t we focus on users instead of Wall Street?” In the Way of Rhino, the answers are all “yes.”

When the user is the company stakeholder, the very act of setting the price becomes a user-oriented decision process. The current price of Rhino is $995. One global price means not having to constantly juggle prices as economies and currencies shift. It means you can treat every customer and every dealer equally. It also means, in the Internet era, that there is no advantage for a potential customer to shop around for the best deal.


  • The CAD Whisperer Sees a Storm on the Horizon

The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet.

CADdigest Weekly
Email (required) *

A week's worth of articles will be emailed to you. See latest issue .