Solid Edge, Siemens/UGS and the Inevitable Consequences

So today I read that Karsten Newbury has left Siemens.

Well first off I want to say that there are two people who I hold most responsible for the brief renaissance of SE and a period of time for hope for bigger and better things. Now Dan Staples is high on my list too but for technical reasons and not as a spark plug for serious growth in numbers and community for Solid Edge. Dan is perhaps more than anyone else the reason Don and Karsten had something truly great to sell to the world. But with Don and Karsten was hope for better things personified and moving forward in tangible ways that could be seen and touched.

I remember getting a call from Don about five years ago when I was expressing frustration in public with Siemens who seemed dead set on hiding SE under a rock and keeping it there. He told me he had a guy who was going to call me that I would find of interest. Karsten called shortly after and told me what his plans and goals were and we basically wanted the same thing. SE to take its place as its capabilities deserved as the company that would overtake SW. This began a five-year journey where at times it was kind of surreal. I mean just how in the world a single man shop ends up helping to influence the outcome of the software he uses is still something that surprises me. I guess I was a pretty good litmus test for how users felt about things and so off we went.

I can say as a guy that had a peek way behind the scenes of SE that neither Don or Karsten ever said they would do something and then not do it. They had a vision and goals and were steadfast to both SE and it’s customers as tireless advocates for the product and it’s users. They were serious about SE and us.

While I have fallen out of the “inner circle” so to speak of SE and Siemens and don’t have much contact with anyone there any more I do wish to say this. I have nothing but admiration for Dan and Karsten both as corporate figures and personally. They both had correct visions of how things should be and could be and eminently qualified plans on how to get there. Over the last year and a half though it became clear to me that they were being hampered in their efforts by Siemens.

I knew these guys and their goals and it was clear people above and around them did not share the same vision. Primarily North American UGS guys who had convinced Siemens that SE was a threat to NX. I think they were becoming quite alarmed at how good SE was becoming and the true potential that SE under Don and Karsten represented in possible sales. I consider Siemens to be quite anal and navel gazers to boot who sadly are stupid enough to believe these UGS guys, some of who have had a real hatred of SE that surpasses mere protection of NX sales. They have deliberately starved SE of funds and permission to market themselves adequately and the really sad thing is that this was with the very money SE had earned for itself. It is so pathetic that the public face of SE through the website had an $80,000.00 a YEAR budget and thought control police who hated SE making sure nothing right or wonderful could ever happen there.   Matt Lombard with a following that was staggering at one time was brought in by Don and Karsten as part of a master plan to eat up SW. Right off the bat Matt was shoved of to the side and deliberately throttled and his value to SE killed.

So in my opinion to protect a few lousy seats of their precious NX they sacrifice tens of thousands of SW conversions and increased overall profit for Siemens. And sadly really talented guys like Don and Karsten who are not going to work for people like this forever. Can you imagine being in charge of something as wonderful as SE and then have board room politics by simple-minded venal corporate turf protecting back stabbers shooting you down? Would you stay under those conditions? So the Siemens quality filter works and good people leave and the bad ones stay and now the whole future of SE looks bleak. Yeah, SE is not going away but until there is a shakeup of upper level management SE is doomed. It going to become like one of those little orange and black spotted Salamanders. They are around but you have to turn over rocks to find them. We have now gone full circle and the bad guys have run off the good guys and SE will once again take its rightful place as the best software you won’t hear about. It is clear to me the Siemens/UGS people who hold SE in contempt have won and will win for some time to come.

I would say that it is Don and Karstens gain and Siemens loss but that presumes Siemens even has the corporate mental capabilities to understand that losing a right hand is not a good thing. They can have a bunch of meetings and talk about all this while they try to figure out if losing body parts is good or bad. I guess the old adage about body parts and who really runs things at Siemens is true. The brain says it is in charge of things and other body parts chime in with why they are the most important. But the winning body part of this debate is the North American UGS a– hole that says if I close myself off none of the rest of you are going to work.

Guys, best of luck in your new jobs and I sincerely hope you both prosper at whatever you do. Your abilities and dedication deserve to be rewarded by someone who judges on merits and not short-sighted little boardroom weasels with axes to grind.

An additional comment.

Sometimes the sublime humor in life comes from strange places. Perhaps there is also more than a little bit of truth to saying like what goes around comes around. Just for the heck of it this evening I went to read the spam posts that accumulate with the filter WordPress provides. The post most frequently generating spam mail is, are you ready for this, “The Destructive Siemens Corporate Mindset”.  Uhh well lets see. Brilliant minds think alike,  birds of a feather flock together. Just some amusing thoughts going through my mind right now. Feel free to post any witticisms you might have in regards to this to dear readers.

6 responses to “Solid Edge, Siemens/UGS and the Inevitable Consequences

  1. So at SE the good people have got fed up and walked. Sounds familiar, much the same thing has happened at SW. What’s left in both cases is a future that is generally underwhelming to contemplate for those who committed to being their customers sometime in the past . Really its pretty hard not to get annoyed about how these situations came about if you have had a modicum of industry awareness and a healthy self interest. SW still had potential but was mangled by DS declaring social industry experiences at boutique prices to be a substitute for genuine engineering endeavour, and SE could have had its day but was stymied by Siemens who are curating a business model that is 20 years out of date. I suppose its Autodesk who have navigated the times the best or at least they were doing well until they surrendered to the corporate devil and announced they intend to farm their customers. The midrange is kind of a mess now from a customers perspective. Yes the software is reasonably competent but one way and another these companies have disappointed and it seems now reached their use by date. I expect we are going to have an economic day of reckoning not very far away. It may well be that someone we haven’t heard of or taken much notice of will inherit the midrange CAD landscape.

    • Hi Neil,
      Yes to all of that. I think a symptom of growing cavalier treatment of customers is the blogosphere for CAD and CAM products and it has mostly been reduced to paid for content and very few unpaid but interested individuals who do it because they happen to care about things. Think about how many have dropped off the radar the last three or four years and remember the excitement and commentary that used to abound.

      I have a trial of Inventor and Inventor HSM on my desktop right now and I am looking. At least if I am going to be abused by a company that could perhaps care less about me I will seek the cheapest one that will still work. HSM is really good and Inventor is way clunky compared to SE is my thought after a few days with Inventor. But for $7500.00 or a bit over the price of a seat of SE Classic alone I get design and machining and it would cost me over 20G to do the same thing with SE and CW4SE and maintenance is 1/3 each year after. Now both SE and CW4SE will do more but I am concluding a few things here about that and the additional price tag of doing things with Siemens. CW4SE is complex and fraught with part scrapping gotchas unless you have a full time programmer willing to set it up and learn it. It is not for the one man shop scenario where the guy cutting may not cut for a whole month because other work is being done. HSM while not as powerful is very good and super easy to use. No TDB to have to set up to get it to work right and if you want automation templates instead that do not demand you use them all the time every time like this TDB does. A friend of mine close by cuts a ton of different parts with HSM and I know looking at his shop I would be covered.

      Lets face it as an SE and CW4SE user Siemens could give a rats rear about my opinions and desire as a paying customer anyway and they DO NOT care about you the potential customer either. $1,250.00 per year maintenance with Autodesk or $4,500+ for SE and CW4SE. By the way as far as I am concerned perhaps none of these companies can be trusted anymore anyway. The ethical and customer oriented guys who were willing to fight for us are gone from SE leadership and so this last bastion of regard for us is gone there and has been missing with Dassault for years.

      About Dan Staples. Dan is a tech guy plain and simple and he is not a trench warfare fighter willing to get in there and duke it out with stupid Siemens/UGS people and competitors like Don and Karstan did. He has a gentleman’s agreement with SW that he abides by to never do direct comparisons on similar parts with SW for instance. My all time most read single post and to this day a year and a half later the first or second most read each current day post is one I did comparing the two with the same parts. Go figure. I would be going toe to toe with SW and fighting to win but that is not Dan. Fear hugely for the tech side instead and wonder just what Siemens is doing to him that may cause this brilliant software developer to leave. Perhaps he will be next who knows as it would not do to have SE become to competent would it.

      Autodesk I have been told has this as it’s future business model. Supposedly from the mouth of Carl Bass but I was not the one told this in person and it is second hand info. I tend to believe this guy who told me though this presumes Bass is telling him the truth to begin with. He says that permanent seats are not going away ever and that too many major companies will not switch from the idea and model of permanent seats. What will happen over the next two or so years though is the elimination of NEW permanent seats over time. They will honor and support permanent seats already bought and in hand. Updates and support will remain the same as it is now and your updates will remain permanent and not time out. I bet you better never ever miss a year though as they will be looking for excuses to “convert” you to chattel status. At least Carl Bass actually cuts and designs things and while Autodesk business model is I find going to be grasping and greedy in some ways in the future some good things can be said here. He is assembling a suite of manufacturing products as an actual experienced hands on guy for design to build and he has gotten the jump on everyone else with their buyouts the last two years…… if they do integration right and so far they have this time and fix their second rate 3D design program. The price tag of design and machining will be forced down across the board for all CAD and CAM once Autodesks market conquest kicks into high gear and these other companies have to get it there and compete to keep market share.

      Speaking of financial days of reckoning. I went by a shop last week close by looking to capture some of their spillover work. Shop stays busy year round and often has more work than they can comfortably do. They use Autodesk 2008 which as I looked at parts on their monitor included 3D modeling and assemblies and Mastercam 8. They have nothing new or current except for a seat of Creo which their main customer insisted they have but agreed to buy it for them. For six and seven years they have not spent a dime and do quite well and keep that yearly fee money in their pocket. Just like many of you SW guys they find that staying current does not make economic sense and they continue to make money with no problems.

      Appreciation IS a two way street and since Siemens is crapping on SE I figure I am done giving them my money and for the next six or seven years I can do just fine with what I have. AND $1,250.00 for CADCAM is a lot better than $4,500.00 so you guys are FIRED. Now make money off of that model you UGS cretins. I hate to see CAMWorks in the middle of this. In many ways the product has legacy problems they have refused to fix although they have begun working on it. I can see the power there and I have a love hate relationship with it. But like almost every other CAM program yearly fees are way to high for what you get in return. They did not however deserve to be a partner with and integrate with a company like Siemens. That same UGS cabal who would rather you just buy Cam Express which is not and will never be truly integrated with SE and not ever buy CW4SE. I think CW4SE has a rocky road ahead of them here. But it is MY MONEY and NOT YOURS and I am watching how you treat me very carefully before I spend more money with anyone if I ever do again anyway. I am completely disgusted with the midrange CADCAM market in general right now and none of them offer exactly what I want.

  2. I forecast some years ago on Matt’s SW blog people would look at the mature industry and the unappetising offerings in troubled times and either sit on their existing software or look for a way to reduce costs. Others are uncertain which direction the industry will go and hold off committing to a change. Enthusiasm and participation for CAD has waned to the point of being non existent. Hardly anyone I remember from the SW user sphere is still around. Possibly they are doing something else for a living or even unemployed. When I post to the SW forum my criticism of the new forum makeover I get my posts stripped out and threatened with a ban. Are CAD companies interested in their customers in a good way these days? No, they are focussed on self preservation and run their companies like totalitarian fascist regimes. Just about everything you read is paid for advertising/propaganda or has been cleansed of any real opinion. They want to control and preserve every part of their empire including over reaching into your pocket and keeping hold of your wallet. The world over economies are coming to a standstill and are kept on life support by money printing. This isn’t going to end well. I would suggest the CAD companies that are going to survive are those who can strip back their products to what counts and focus again on meeting the real needs of the customer/user. Will any of the main players manage to do that? I am not sure….

    • I agree 100% with everything you say.I too am focused on self preservation and it does not include more money for these guys and they have wiped my enthusiasm out for sure. Just a tool and unless you offer me a super deal I am not buying.

  3. Hi Dave,

    Take a look a TopSolid, if you’re not familiar it is an integrated CAD/CAM/PDM solution that’s been around for 30+ years. It’s very strong on the manufacturing side and the CAD is very capable of working with ‘dumb’ solids.
    Everything, including the PDM, is right there on your computer – no clouds or monthly subscriptions.
    I’m an NX user as I’ve mentioned before but it certainly gets my attention. In case you haven’t read it here’s a review by Josh Mings of

    I think Clearcut Solutions are the North American distibutor. If I was looking to spend my money with somebody other than Siemens it would be with these guys.

    • Hi Neil,
      I have heard decent things by reviewers of Top Solid but have never talked to a real user. And once again I am stuck with having to train anyone I hire for both CAD and CAM after I have to learn it to. I am not going to spend the money required to get it though. I like SE and feel I can work with it for the next six or seven years or so without ever renewing. I have hopes for CW4SE and will get into 2015 before my maintenance is up end of Dec. If it works well then I have all I need for years. I am getting tired of learning and spending money and I am looking for a place to stay. At this time the only thing under consideration is Inventor/HSM and that is only because of HSM and cost. Plus around here there are users of both available for hire. Really fed up with it all and hope to get by with what I have.

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