A few weeks ago, December 15th to be exact, it was leaked that Carlysle Group a private equity group owning the Foundry has decided to sell the company.
The fact that Carlysle Group, a company that knows nothing about the 3d industry has decided to sell the Foundry is not shocking at all. It’s a group that is not connected in any way to the 3d industry and more than that, not interested in the creative market. What matters to them is maximising profit. Buying and selling assets at the right time.
To those not aware, The foundry is a company owning a suite of heavy weight programs like nuke (compositing), mari (texturing) and modo (3d application). But the company’s assets don’t just stop on its software. The biggest assets are probably its staff. And Foundry is a company full of people with years of experience in the industry.
So how is it possible a company with so much expertise and gravitas, be so volatile? There is no clear answer. It probably has to do with the fact that the professional 3d industry in general is a relatively small market compared to other industries. So in essence a lot of companies compete for a small chunk of an already small market. That makes it difficult for a company to survive and grow in the long term. Let’s not forget that industry standard programs, like Maya, have been assimilated into Autodesk. A company that managed, throughout the years, to buy its competition.
is it so bad that The Foundry is up for sale? What is all the fuss about?
But is it so bad that The Foundry is up for sale? What is all the fuss about? Officially the company gave a very positive spin on this whole situation. Brad Peebler, one of the main creators of Modo, (now owned by the Foundry), tried to calm things down and put everything in to perspective. Through the official modo forum page he shared his thoughts in what was a very convincing statement. You can find the full response here:
In a lot of his arguments he is right. Foundry being bought by the Carlysle Group was very beneficial to the program. It provided modo with the necessary funds to improve and expand. Also in the hands of a new company, modo and of course the Foundry as a whole, could thrive even more. But as with a lot of things there’s also this other side, which is not as bright.
One of the main issues I see, is how demoralising this whole situation can be for the employees of the company. Inventive and creative ideas are rarely hatched from environments with low moral. Uncertainty a lot of the times brings unwillingness to push the envelope. And that is because pushing the envelope brings also the possibility of failure. And failure in a volatile environment is rarely forgiven. As a result it’s not uncommon for companies in situations similar to the Foundry’s to stagnate even though the solution is in the exact opposite direction.
On top of that Foundry being owned by someone else other than itself, means that it is susceptible to the whims of that company. Since usually the biggest priority is to maximise profits the decisions that stem out of this way of thinking aren’t about building a future proof application. It’s mostly about how the short term benefits. So to talk with hockey terms the company is not going where the puck is going to be, but where the puck is right now.
But even if we assume that everyone has the best intentions in mind and everything works out in the best possible way the users are still insecure about the future of the program. It is no surprise that a lot of modo users are thinking of switching programs. Going to a software with a more secure roadmap. Understandably no one is willing to experiment with what the future holds. People don’t want to invest time and money on a product that might not be around in a few years. Learning and building a whole career around a program that has an insecure future is definitely not a tempting offer. Which in turn creates this vicious circle. No sales leads to less development time and features for the program. And less features leads to less sales. And so on and so forth.
At the moment users are discussing different scenarios. The foundry being bought by Apple, or Adobe or the worst scenario of all, by Autodesk. I don’t see any of these scenarios playing out. The new buyer will probably be a similar group like the Carlisle Group. What would be best is if The foundry could actually buy itself out. But that is probably something that cannot be done. If it was on the cards it would have probably be announced. For no reason other than easing the mind of the users.
My assumptions might be completely off and I certainly hope so! Foundry and its programs don’t deserve a slow and painful death but this constant buying and selling rarely brings anything positive to the table. Only the future will tell! Let’s just hope that the future has no common points to the arguments described above!