ATLANTA, GA (Solid Edge University 2014) -Solid Edge is clearly trying to look like a big CAD company at its 3rd straight Solid Edge University, its annual user meeting and conference which this takes place over 3 full days in Atlanta.
The event borrows its name from Autodesk University, the mother of all CAD events, where 10,000 users and 200 exhibitors are the norm. Solid Edge University had a few less of each: a little over 400 attendees and may be a dozen exhibitors. A hundred of the attendees were Siemens employees (Siemens owns Solid Edge) and another 50 or so may have been from 3rd party vendors.
It's not as if Solid Edge didn't try. Many Solid Edge employees were tasked with cajoling users from their workstations and into Atlanta, but in the end, the city proved to be not near enough to so many users, says one employee. Last year's venue in Cincinnati, though a smaller city, attracted a few more, quite possibly due to its proximity to manufacturing.
Still, Solid Edge University was a million dollar event that can scale up to a bigger audience (wherever the next one might be), with a big stage, inspirational speakers, interesting classes, a special event (you can't go wrong with a brewery tour) -- and plenty of staff to attend to every need of the media.
Did we miss something? Karsten Newbury, Sr VP and GM at Siemens, reveals 500,000 seats of Solid Edge have been sold.
According to Siemens, the user base exists for larger Solid Edge Universities. We heard there are 500,000 Solid Edge licenses sold, a number that seemed to immediately send the analysts into a huddle. Did we miss something here? The last we heard, numbers of seats of Solid Edge were low enough that we could ignore them. But half a million suddenly puts them in the same ball park as market leader SOLIDWORKS.
This year there were also more press, analysts and blogger. There was even a blogger event (though both Ralph Grabowski and I arrived too late to attend).
Though relatively small compared to more established CAD user events, the fact that Solid Edge University even exists is testament to the will of GM and Senior VP, Karsten Newbury. Now in his 6th year in charge of Solid Edge, Karsten has been able to create a separate community for his users, balancing the tight control exerted by parent company Siemens with a need to establish a separate identity for a more populist CAD product. For example, changing a font on a product page on the website can be like "moving heaven and earth," says one Solid Edge employee.
Yet, Karsten has been successful in many ways. For example, Solid Edge presenters on stage wore jeans -- in sharp contrast to black suits commonly found at Siemens events.