Deelip Menezes has taken the CAD industry by storm. He has scored some major coups. At this year's SolidWorks World, he sat down product manager Shaun Murphy and got him to admit that SolidWorks' backward incompatibility and inability to read/write CATIA files were "business issues." In other words, Dassault had basically conspired to deny its own customers two capabilities they were desperate for. A few days later, he scores an interview with Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. I was surprised he wasn't at PTC's press/analyst event this week -- but that didn't stop the event organizers from talking reverently about him.
It's just not right. The most sought after, one of the most prolific and most insightful journalists I've ever met is not a journalist at all. He lives on the opposite side of the world (Goa, India) and writes code during the day. He has never taken a journalism course. Though his English is just fine, it is probably his second language. He may not have a travel budget. He was not launched from an established print magazine, never paid by a publisher and has never had the luxury of waking up to spend the whole day writing articles. How is it that the plain Deelip.com blog (it looks like an off-the-rack template) is on the short list of must-reads for CAD insiders and Deelip himself is widely regarded by the CAD industry and those who cover it as a "thought leader."
I needed to find what made this man tick? I spent a day with Deelip, between his trip to SolidWorks World in southern California and his trip to Hawaii (he was there to see a business partner). I picked him up in the tony Marina district, where he was staying overnight courtesy of an Autodesk employee. We shot across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Marin County, had lunch in Yountville, sipped wine in Napa and had dinner at my house.
I suggested that perhaps CAD journalism was in the doldrums due to the financial problems of several publishers, leaving veteran journalists scrounging for their next meal. Deelip wasn't accepting excuses. "What about me?" he said, rhetorically. I had to concede. All Deelip did was write...part time...and keep writing. Why couldn't anybody do that? He tells me he often writes after his kids go to sleep.
Though the posts are numerous (really, does this guy ever sleep?), it wasn't the quantity. Deelip is writing gutsy stuff, often with extraordinary insight. Unfettered from advertising and consulting revenue, Deelip is unafraid of scaring off CAD vendors. Try to bullshit him and you will go down. This morning, he skewered Autodesk. He had asked why Inventor LT was only available in "select countries." First to squirm was Kevin Schneider, the person responsible for Inventor Fusion. Kevin chose to hand off to Autodesk's PR staff, who came back days later with a response from Peter Vinh, Inventor LT Product Manager. Peter carefully stated how Autodesk was rolling it out to various geographies, but never mentioned India and avoided giving any specific information, like dates. Deelip called it "neatly crafted crap."