Trimble announced on Feb. 2 that it is acquiring construction management software maker e-Builder. The deal is a $500 million all-cash transaction. As the developer of popular software for overseeing large construction projects, e-Builder has a significant presence in the public construction and major capital project market, with over $300 billion in active construction projects currently managed by its suite of applications. The company had a reported trailing twelve-month revenue of $53 million.
“This will be a game changer for the way construction is done,” says Roz Buick, Trimble vice president for buildings. “It’s a significant acquisition for us, and has full support from within our organization. e-Builder’s construction-management capabilities will truly transform how we handle construction in this industry.”
The focus of much of e-Builder’s suite of software has been on construction-management solutions for large owners, including public agencies, an area of the industry which has not been a major focus for Trimble’s contractor-focused digital strategy. But e-Builder will continue to serve its existing customers going forward, according to Ron Antevy, co-founder of the firm. “Over the last 20 years we’ve really focused on the facility owners, we’ve built our leadership position there,” he says. “But what Trimble brings to the table is their broad and deep market position, which for us is the Holy Grail. We are going to accelerate and transform the industry.”
e-Builder co-founder Jon Antevy sees the deal as a chance to expand e-Builder’s marketshare across the construction industry. “For years we have been selling to the owners, and they in turn have been forcing their contractors to use e-Builder,” he explains. “It’s really going to speed things up to have a tool that offers solutions aimed at both the owner and the contractor.”
According to Ron Antevy, the company will maintain its existing relationships with customers, and the firm's employees and management team will remain intact for the foreseeable future. “Part of what we have in our e-Builder platform is app exchange, and after the acquisition we will utilize that to build tight connectors between Trimble products and e-Builder apps,” he says.
While it may be a while for full integration to take hold, some of the first benefits to Trimble and e-Builder customers may come in faster payment processing, says Ron Antevy. “A contractor could submit a progress payment request in a system [linked to Trimble Connect] and have it go through e-Builder. He gets paid faster and the owner has visibility on the project.”
"The timing is still something we need to work out," says Jon Antevy. "But some of our larger customers [such as] the NYDOT, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, these very large owners, they will benefit greatly from the suite of solutions we can now provide."
On the Trimble side, the acquisition was driven by the need to expand the breadth of its Trimble Connect platform. Currently the system offers software integration across the many phases of the project lifecycle, from the early design and engineering stages with SketchUp and Tekla Structures, all the way through linkups with Autodesk Revit, Prolog and VICO Office. Trimble Connect also integrates data from Trimble-connected site surveying devices and construction equipment over the course of the project, providing constantly updating progress reports from the field.
But according to Buick, Trimble Connect was somewhat lacking in offerings for owners who are overseeing these project. “Our view is the owner-led initiative of digital construction is really where we see the biggest transformation,” she says. Buick cites Trimble’s current work on an expansion of Beijing Capital International Airport where the government client is pushing hard for use of digital models and project management software across the board. “We feel owners can be the ones to accelerate the adoption of the digital jobsite, and by focusing on them we can bring it to more stakeholders more quickly.”
"Our belief is that we can make this process more transparent among the players," says Buick. "We will be able to go from the supply chain through the GCs and the subs, creating more efficient workflows and accelerating the payment processes. And we think e-Builder will allow us to tell the bigger story of the project to the owners and other stakeholders."
The text of this article was updated on Feb. 5, 2018 to reflect new information.