In a move that broadly expands its presence in the construction software space, Schaan, Liechtenstein-based tool manufacturer Hilti has announced that it will acquire San Francisco building trades software maker Fieldwire for $300 million. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Fieldwire, founded in 2013, has built a sizable user base around mobile and desktop software aimed at craft workers and other field personnel. The company has over 130 employees, with offices in the U.S. and Europe. Its app can be used to manage the complex jobs and task lists of field work. Tasks are assigned to workers, and necessary documents and drawings are kept up-to-date. With its focus on the work of specialty contractors and other tradespeople, Fieldwire has also added functionality for handling RFIs and submittals.
According to the company, Fieldwire has seen over 1 million projects created in its system since its founding. It boasts over 4,000 paying companies using its software, some of which have hundreds or thousands of individual users. Fieldwire is used by some of the largest contractors in North America, including Clark Construction, Power Design and EllisDon.
Hilti, the tool manufacturer best known for its fastening and drilling tools, had previously backed Fieldwire in two of its startup funding rounds. While it still focuses on its traditional power tool business, Hilti has also made investments in software in recent years, including a worker management platform and concrete anchor design tools for BIM environments.
“Since digitalization has become a major driver of productivity in construction, Hilti has been investing in digital solutions for construction professionals,” Hilti Group CEO Christopher Loos said in a press statement. “This acquisition will strengthen our software portfolio and is a logical step towards our vision of becoming the leading digitalization partner for our customers.”
“We appreciate how Fieldwire goes to market,” says Martina McIsaac, president of Hilti North America. “They have a very effective way of reaching the trade community. Our global reach will extend how Fieldwire goes around the world.” Hilti uses a direct sales model for its tool distribution globally, and McIsaac says its footprint will allow for Fieldwire to go beyond its current user base.
“It’s a good way to reach everyone in the world,” says Yves Frinault, CEO and co-founder of Fieldwire. “We don’t have people everywhere, but Hilti is everywhere.” Frinault says that Fieldwire was preparing for another funding round when Hilti approached the company about being acquired. “I think Hilti and Fieldwire are very similar, so it’s a good fit.”
The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, but Frinault says that Fieldwire users can expect things to continue as usual. “A key point of discussion with Hilti was maintaining a lot of autonomy in how the company operates and interacts with its clients,” he says. “if you are a Fieldwire client now, nothing will change.”
But Frinault does admit that this expanded distribution and potential customer base is a bit of a shot in the arm for Fieldwire’s longer-term plans. “Field management is our primary stronghold, driving that field productivity. But you will be seeing us moving more to the project management side of projects as well. The problem of the field-and-office link is still not solved.” Frinault also reiterates Fieldwire’s ongoing commitment to open APIs and open software standards in general, even if it butts up against software made by Hilti competitors. “We always try to add value and not keep data captive.”
And Hilti is still looking to build out its software offerings further, says McIsaac. “We’ve always been a productivity partner, going onto the jobsite and helping the customer do their work. We believe software is the next step in that.”