A little over a year ago, PTC shook up the product development world with its acquisition of Onshape. It was a bold stake in the ground asserting PTC’s leadership in accelerating the CAD industry’s inevitable transition to the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model in the cloud.

On November 1, 2019, the day of the official announcement, we were all very excited about what Onshape joining PTC could mean to the success of Onshape and the success of PTC overall. We were optimistic, but acquisitions are like marriages and nobody ever truly knows what an acquisition will be like or how it will really go.  So as we celebrate the first anniversary of Onshape being part of the PTC family, I am delighted to share that our union has developed even better than we had envisioned. 

The warm welcome reception for Onshape joining PTC included this ice sculpture celebrating CAD in the cloud. Pictured above (left to right) are Onshapers Van Tran, Maya Wilson, John McEleney, Cristina Seckinger, and Greg Guarriello.

I’d like to thank all of our “new” PTC colleagues for extending such a warm welcome into the organization amidst a year of unprecedented uncertainty and challenges. Customers who have been with Onshape since the very beginning will soon be reaping the benefits of core PTC technologies and vice versa. PTC has already invested considerable resources into significantly expanding Onshape’s R&D team, meaning that new platform features and improvements will reach our customers even faster in our regular product updates delivered every three weeks.

PTC performed exceptionally well in fiscal year 2020 as Onshape experienced extraordinary growth and its best year ever. In Q4 of 2020, Onshape’s new sales grew 82% vs. Q4 of 2019.  PTC channel partners who sell other PTC products (Creo, Windchill, Vuforia, etc.) are now starting to sell Onshape, too. 

More widespread Onshape adoption in more countries around the world means our customers will have a bigger community of fellow users to collaborate with and learn from. It means that the productivity, innovation and cost benefits of a full-cloud SaaS product development platform are closer to becoming the norm rather than the exception.

One of the biggest indicators that the future of engineering is intertwined with cloud SaaS product design and data management tools is Onshape’s explosive growth in the education market this year. Students are our customers’ future hiring pool, so we were delighted to see the PTC Academic team help hundreds of thousands of college and high school students continue and enhance their STEM education even when classes were forced to go remote.

At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, PTC experienced a 360 percent increase in signups for the free Onshape Education Standard plan. And it’s not surprising why.

As a SaaS platform, Onshape is the only CAD system that students can access on any computer (including Chromebooks), iPad, Android tablet, or phone from anywhere. While classes using on-premise installed CAD were locked out of their school computer labs during the early days of the pandemic, Onshape classes continued remotely uninterrupted. 

One of the most gratifying aspects of Onshape for me is that its collaborative features are improving the level of education regardless of whether classes are remote or in person. The work world revolves around teams, and having students being able to work simultaneously on a design, or get real-time feedback from a teacher or mentor is better preparing them for their future careers.

Michigan high school technology teacher Steve Vasiloff recently told us that Onshape has enabled him to increase the rigorous nature of his courses. 

“I've never really truly been able to give my students homework,” he said. “The first reason is that I can’t require them to have expensive PCs that can run that software. Second off, if they get stuck, are their parents going to be able to help them with CAD? Maybe a few. But now if a student is struggling and sends me an email at night, I will be able to open up their Onshape model on my phone. I can help my students without even leaving the couch,” he says.

The PTC Academic team tells me that we are now rapidly approaching the landmark of one million Onshape Education users. That would triple the number of students who were using Onshape a year ago – and we expect this momentum to continue. Students have grown up immersed in the cloud. They don’t expect to work or collaborate in any other way.

A Year of Unprecedented Challenges

PTC Executive Vice President Jon Hirschtick visits with Onshape customer evTS, manufacturer of the versatile FireFly electric vehicle used for law enforcement, emergency response, last-mile delivery, sanitation, and other applications.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is meeting Onshape customers in person and seeing firsthand the amazing life-changing and life-improving products that are created from scratch on our platform. During that jubilant time when we became part of PTC, I could not have imagined that we would all soon be forced apart and working in our own home bubbles. I could not have imagined that even a simple customer visit I used to take for granted would require a facemask and “social distancing.” As someone who thoroughly enjoys the social aspects of business, I still cannot get used to that term.

Onshape was built for distributed teams because that’s where the design and manufacturing world was headed well before COVID-19. But when most of our customers were forced to pivot to a nearly fully remote workforce, Onshape’s anywhere/anytime accessibility and real-time collaboration tools enabled many design teams to work uninterrupted. This unparalleled flexibility and versatility that cloud SaaS tools extend to your workforce were just as valuable before this crisis and will be just as valuable on the other side.

Business concerns aside, the pandemic remains a serious threat to our communal well-being. Although the pending arrival of vaccines put hope on the horizon, all of us face continued challenges in the months ahead. But one of the things I am most proud of during my brief time at PTC is how both the company and our employees have stepped up to help strangers in need.

PTC has donated the use of Onshape for non-profit design projects related to COVID-19 response efforts and solutions. Multiple medical device and PPE projects were able to accelerate design and manufacturing by using Onshape’s unmatched collaborative features and remote access. Two extraordinary efforts that I’d like to call attention to here are the Rise Emergency Ventilator, which was designed and built from scratch in only 21 days, and MasksOn.org, which repurposed snorkel masks for protective gear for medical personnel when there were urgent shortages.

I’m proud that Onshape could support these efforts, but even prouder to see so many Onshapers and their new PTC colleagues step up to volunteer countless hours of their expertise and labor.

Introducing the New Onshape Logo

You will soon notice that the familiar logo you see in that ice sculpture picture near the top of  this blog has been graciously retired, and that Onshape has switched its original blue and white colors to PTC green and grey. 

You will now see the new Onshape logo when you log in to our platform, on our website, at tradeshows (when we get back to in-person events), on t-shirts and virtually everywhere else.

Our goal is to bring the best of PTC into Onshape and also bring the best of Onshape into PTC. Integrating our logo into the PTC family naturally reflects that mission.

Our new logo represents the modern, connected product development process enabled by Onshape. Multiple layers and interrelated pieces demonstrate real-time, multi-user collaboration, while the 3D cube is representative of quickly bringing digital products to life.

There is a harmony between the inner layer of engineers designing a product and the outer layer representing real-time contributions from the extended design team to the evolving single source of truth. Finally, the Onshape “O” is invoked by the overall hexagon shape.

So while our logo may have changed, you will notice no difference in our platform beyond the new features and improvements you’ve come to expect every three weeks (Onshape had 16 new releases in fiscal 2020).

We also fiercely remain committed to being a customer-first organization. So I want to sincerely thank all our Onshape users – whether you were with us five years ago or just signed on five minutes ago. We are not, and have never been, in the software business. We are in the product development business. Without your innovative products, we would have no purpose.

The success of PTC and Onshape is completely dependent on your success. We especially appreciate your support as we’ve transitioned into the PTC organization this year, and I personally wish you much happiness and health in 2021!

Join Onshape on Dec. 9 for “Innovation for Good”

On Wednesday, December 9, I will be joining Onshape co-founder John McEleney at a special virtual event hosted by SiliconANGLE. We’ll be discussing the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our lives, how businesses have responded to new challenges and how some are now better prepared for possible disruptions in the future.

Along with Construct Capital co-founder Dayna Grayson, John and I will reflect on the PTC acquisition and how it is has empowered Onshape to help our customers accelerate product innovation and create game-changing products, ranging from emergency prosthetic horse hooves to robots that repair potholes in real time to medical devices and supplies critical for helping people during the pandemic.

As part of our “Innovation for Good” discussion, we’ll be joined by:

  • Rafael Gómez-Sjöberg, Director of Bioengineering at Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a critical R&D center developing new technologies that lead to actionable diagnostics and effective therapies for diseases and other world health problems.

  • Philip Taber, Vice President of Hardware Engineering for Silverside Detectors, developers of next-generation nuclear radiation detectors for homeland security.

I’m looking forward to some engaging conversation with our esteemed panelists and hope you will join us! You can register to participate in the “Innovation for Good” session here.