A li'l bit of Revit history…Part 1

This is from an AUGI archive – its worth a read.  I have bolded some of the points I thought were cool:

2004-11-17, 09:27 AM
Ralph Grabowski, writing in Upfront Ezine stated “The CAD social event of the month was the Revit launch, which took place April 5, 2000 in Cambridge MA USA.” and then went on to describe the event as follows….Revit Launch: Four o’clock and time for the Revit event at the Aurthur M Sackler lecture hall. There are 125 invited attendees, but very few media. From what I and others could see, there is no one from CADalyst, Cadence, or Penton Publishing. Revit ceo Dale Lemont hosts the two-hour event, calling this “an important moment in the history of CAD. The parametric architectural software will be sold by monthly subscription. In stark contrast to SolidWorks, Revit will have no resellers — everything by the Web. Nobody says it for sure, but I finally decide that Revit is short for “revise it.”

Update (April 2002): Almost exactly two years after the launch, Revit sold itself to Autodesk for US$133 million. Although the company had managed to create a huge “mindshare” acceptance, Revit sales were described by Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz as “small pilot user base,” what she would expect from a “start-up.”

Dale refreshingly admits much is missing from Revit, and that the following functions will be added over the next 24 months: massing studies, stacking, canted walls, sloping structures, turn on more AccuRender functions, multi-user enhancements, estimation at all stages, product catalogs, schedules, architectural detailing, Web collaboration, ASP capabilities, landscape, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.

The product will be available in early May; delivery has slipped by two weeks. A new release is promised every 90 days in first year — “Tough on us book authors,” I note wryly to the Revit employee sitting near me.

In the background, ceo David Lemont. In the foreground, founder Leonid Raiz (at left) and Irwin Jungreis.

Revit Dinner: The product launch is followed by dinner in the courtyard of the Fogg Art Museum, located across the street. The museum features a small but broad collection of art: religious, African, modern, and classical. My wife would have enjoyed viewing the paintings by van Gough, Monet, and Renoir.

Each of our nametags have a color. I find out that — ironically enough — green indicates you had ordered beef, while red indicates vegetarian; my color was yellow, for salmon.

On one side of me sits a representative from Atlas Ventures, who asked me what I thought of Revit and the launch. How do you answer a man who has sunk millions of dollars into this?

On the other side of sits Brad Holtz (of ‘CAD Rating Guide’ fame) and next to him, Geoffrey Langdon (of architectural CAD shootout fame). The thought underlying this whole event is “SolidWorks or Numera?” Would Revit rocket into orbit, or burn out at the launch pad? We reminisce over CAD ventures that have burned through their money over the years. Brad declared himself the winner in remembering the worst CAD launch ever: TriumphCAD spent all its money on ads — no product ever shipped.

Brad Holtz and Geoffrey Langdon.

We muse over Revit’s business model. “How long does Revit have before investors would want their money back?” The problem with a monthly subscription model is that money trickles in more slowly. Take 60 Revit employees earning an average of US$100,000/yr each. Assume Revit nets $100/mo per subscription. That means they need 5,000 subscriptions just to break even. “The question is,” summarizes Brad, “How long will it take to ramp up to 5,000 subscriptions?” As I write this, I also wonder about “subscription churn” where gains from new subscribers are offset by losses from unsubscribers.

Just as we complete our analysis, an earnest young Revit employee comes by our table to introduce himself. “I’m in charge of developing the business model in conjunction with Harvard Business School,” he explains. The three of us roar with laughter: “Funny you should mention that…”. We give him our analysis — at no charge.


Dinner in the Fogg Art Museum’s courtyard.

link to AUGI Forum thread here

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