In 1996, it would have been impossible to imagine that 20 years later I would be sitting here writing this particular blog. At the time, when Gavin, Yanick, Rob and I spun the HOOPS Visualize technology out of Autodesk, we could hardly have been a more scrappy, scruffy start-up. We had no funding, were squatting in Autodesk offices, had no clear idea of how to run a company and certainly no clear idea of how we would grow over the long-term. We did know that there were customers relying on the HOOPS technology and we were determined to take care of them as job #1. Beyond that, I suppose like any start-up, we were hoping to survive long enough to not only support those partners, but also to eventually fuel innovation for many more development teams.
While there was much we didn’t know, we were aware of some assets we did have:
- Decent instincts about growing a business
- Good intentions in terms of the kind of company we wanted to create
- The kind of fearlessness that seems to only be possible with the ignorance of youth
- Excellent HOOPS Visualize technology that we could revive and build upon
- A handful of HOOPS Visualize partners who were willing to give us a chance to show that we would be responsible stewards who would advance the graphics engine they were so reliant upon. In fact, most all of those early partners are still with us two decades later! We greatly appreciate the trust you had in us back in 1996 and hope we continue to earn that trust.
In looking back over those 20 years, there are three things that really amaze me.
First, the thing I marvel at most is the strength and quality of the team that we have assembled together. From having just four of us in 1996, to those crucial early hires, to having today nearly 100 outstanding people all over the world is truly incredible. For me, the most rewarding thing about these past 20 years is that we have been able to attract and maintain such a great bunch of people to the Tech Soft 3D team. It’s the idea of working with those people, and those who will join going forward, that has me most excited about the next 20 years!
Second is the breadth and strength of products we now offer. Building upon the continued success of HOOPS Visualize, we have since expanded our product portfolio far beyond a single graphics engine to a full family of impressive development tools under the HOOPS brand, along with some high-quality resold toolkits, the Autodesk OEM solutions and the Tetra4D end-user products. Early on, we decided that we didn’t want to just be in the ‘we provide a graphics engine’ business. Instead, we wanted to be in the ‘we help you build successful engineering applications’ business, so since about 1998 our intention was to expand our offerings to solve more and more of the problems developers of 3D applications face. Later, as we elevated our thinking to realize we were in the ‘fueling innovation business’, we brought in the Tetra4D family of products. Although we always had ambitions to solve more problems and fuel more innovation, I would be kidding myself if I said we predicted that today we would have such a rich, diverse and successful portfolio. I marvel to think of what that portfolio will look like in the coming decades.
Third is the large community of partners and customers who have chosen to rely on Tech Soft 3D/Tetra4D to help them fuel innovation. On the toolkit side of our business, it’s rewarding to know that big names like SolidWorks, Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, Dassault Systemes, ANSYS, 3D Systems, ARAS, Stratasys, Hexagon, Trimble and others trust and rely upon our people and technology within their applications. It is equally rewarding to know that we have been part of so many companies’ start-up and success stories. Truly, there are hundreds of companies/products that started and succeeded, at least in part because of the value they gained from working with Tech Soft 3D and that makes us proud.
Then with the Tetra4D line of products focused on 3D PDF publishing, it’s remarkable to see major companies like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, US Army, Ford, Toyota and hundreds of others depending on Tetra4D products to support their use of the 3D PDF format. In fact, the sheer scope and impact of 3D PDF is something that we also can and should take great pride in. 3D PDF was begun by TTF (the original company in Lyon, France), pushed forward by Adobe, ‘rescued’ with the Tech Soft 3D acquisition and kept alive by the great group of people who joined us in 2010. We could hardly have hoped to be making a bigger overall impact on the industries we serve, and we’re determined to continue expanding that impact.
Most or all of what I describe above would have been pretty much impossible to predict in November 1996, when we wondered whether Tech Soft 3D would survive for even 5 years, much less 20. Given that we have far exceeded what we thought was possible 20 years ago, it’s enormously exciting to think about what may be possible 20 years further down the road - and whatever it is we are imagining now, working together I fully expect we’ll surprise ourselves once again.
I know I speak for all the founders when I say thank you to our employees for all of your great contributions and for helping make Tech Soft 3D the special place that it is today. It’s because of you that we still feel like a start-up in many ways, why we have remained so committed to our core values and mission, and why we have been able to attract great people, build great products and make such a significant impact.
Thank you also to our great community of customers and partners for trusting in us and our solutions, and working with us so collaboratively over the years. It’s because of the trust you placed in our technology and team, and your input and insights that we’ve managed to get where we are today. We will continue to work hard to earn the trust you place in us.
We’re delighted to be sharing this journey with all of you and look forward to more decades of success and fun together.