3D imaging and measurement firm FARO Technologies announced on June 7 that it is acquiring 360° reality-capture firm HoloBuilder in a $34 million deal.
Founded in 2016, HoloBuilder’s photo captures allows for project teams to see 360° documentation of jobsite progress and site conditions. FARO has traditionally targeted a wider selection of reality-capture tools for its photogrammetry environment, including 3D laser-scan point clouds and other higher-end systems.
“The addition of HoloBuilder to our offering accelerates the reality of a true end-to-end digital twin solution,” Michael Burger, FARO’s president and CEO said in a press statement. “[It] advances our strategic objective of increased recurring revenue through market share gains in this large and growing segment,”
Under the terms of the agreement, HoloBuilder shareholders received a $34 million cash payment in a deal that closed June 4. According to HoloBuilder, the company had $4 million in annual revenue as of the end of April, with a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 75% since 2019.
As with many acquisitions in the construction technology space, there is always a question of what will happen to the existing users of the acquired company's services. But things are not likely to change in the near future, according to Mark Bernhard, director of global corporate communications at FARO. “There is no impact to current customers; both companies will continue to provide innovative products and outstanding support to our customer base,” he tells ENR. “Customers who express an interest in learning more about the other company will be referred directly, until such time as a full integration can take place.”
Bernhard adds that this continuity includes any integrations that HoloBuilder already has with other software platforms, including FARO competitors.
The blending of HoloBuilder’s 360° image capture with the denser photogrammetry of FARO’s existing products does open up new possibilities, according to Mostafa Akbari-Hochberg, HoloBuilder’s founder and CEO. “HoloBuilder and FARO together furthers our vision of digitizing the physical world to enable process automation and workflow optimization,” he said in a press statement. "The powerful combination of high accuracy laser scanning with real-time 360° photo capture and collaboration will empower both companies’ customer bases with a comprehensive digital twin solution.”
"Holobuilder introduced the world of construction to 360-degree photography as a low-cost and easy-to-use solution for visually documenting and sharing the progress of construction projects," says Darren Bechtel, whose construction tech venture capital firm Brick and Mortar Ventures was an early investor in the HoloBuilder startup. He adds that while FARO targets a higher-end market that demands accurate point cloud data, "Holobuilder designed its solution to meet the day-to-day most basic needs of builders, construction managers, and owners to virtually 'visit' job sites and visually confirm the quality and quantity of work put in place."
The relatively low-cost of 360° imagery compared to full laser scans and point-cloud generation has been a driver for adoption in the industry, but Bernhard says the divide between these two approaches may not be as wide as it once was. “We believe that these groups are converging, driven by the value that digitalization is bringing to the industry,” he tells ENR. “Currently, information is siloed and this market is particularly ripe for disruption given the growing demand for an affordable solution to digitalize operations, increase production efficiencies and optimize workflows.”
While FARO and HoloBuilder haven’t laid out a detailed roadmap for their eventual integration, Bernhard hints that a more unified approach is on the horizon. “A seamless solution between 360° cameras and laser scanning can provide the best of both worlds to certain customers who desire a range of accuracies and capabilities.”