Google has sold Sketchup to Trimble!

Matt Donley News 5 Comments

Announced today on the official Sketchup Blog, Google has decided to sell Sketchup to Trimble, a publicly traded technology company specializing in GPS, Engineering & Construction, agriculture, and field and mobile worker devices.
Google to Trimble

What does this mean for Sketchup?

A lot is still up in the air right now, but according to the Trimble press release not much will change for the immediate future:

For the foreseeable future, Google will host and operate the 3D Warehouse for Trimble and together the companies will continue to offer the same capabilities, functions and services that are offered today. The ability for users to submit 3D Buildings for potential acceptance and viewing in Google Earth will be maintained. Currently the 3D Warehouse has almost two million user-generated models.

So it looks like Trimble and Google will be working together to maintain the current Sketchup community, especially the 3D warehouse. Users will still be able to upload to the 3D warehouse and submit their models for inclusion into Google Earth.

The question is, what does this hold for the long term future of Sketchup. Will a free version be maintained? Or will Trimble aim to make profit from the incredible program and end the free version. We can only speculate how many millions it cost them to purchase Sketchup. It’s only obvious they will be looking for a return on their investment.

Hopefully, they will continue to offer a free version and continue to develop the professional version to compete with more advanced design software. Remember, this isn’t the first time Sketchup has traded hands. It was first created by @last software, then purchased by Google in 2006.

I should note that they haven’t officially purchased Sketchup yet. But they expect to close on the deal sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2012.

Who is Trimble?

Trimble is best known for it’s GPS technology. Founded in 1978, they are based in Sunnyvale, CA and has offices in over 30 countries. They have reported revenues of $1.6 billion for 2011. The major industries they serve are land survey, construction, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications, asset tracking, mapping, utilities, mobile resource management, and government.

Trimble Outdoors
I have personally known Trimble for their Trail Mapping Service website. It’s like a souped up Google maps. But besides showing roads, it shows off-road trails, hiking trails, etc. I’ve used it a few times while hiking in Maine. They offer a number of ipad/iphone/android apps to compliment TrimbleOutdoors.

We can all speculate what their intentions are for Sketchup. I believe this will be a good thing and look forward to what the future holds.

Why would Google sell?

Google had built up Sketchup with the intentions that people would fill up Google Earth with buildings, and they succeeded. Beyond that, Sketchup was really a side project for them in the grand scheme of things. They probably never really had intentions of getting into the 3D modeling industry, and feel they can be more profitable in other markets.

By selling it to a company like Trimble, I’m sure they feel they are handing over the reins into good hands. Trimble has plenty of experience in the construction industry and I feel like they will add a lot of valuable experience to the enhancement of Sketchup. I can’t wait to see what improvements they make.

And thank you to Google for making Sketchup what it is today. You’ve done a fine job. Now, Trimble, we’re all looking at you!

What do you think of the recent acquisition? Leave a comment below.

About the Author

Matt Donley

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Matt has been creating SketchUp tutorials since 2012. After writing the book SketchUp to LayOut, he conducted the "Intro to LayOut" seminar at the official SketchUp conference in Colorado. Matt writes about how to use SketchUp for design, construction and 3D printing.

Comments 5

  1. Flooring Installer

    This information is highly speculative AT BEST.
    >> They probably never really had intentions of getting into the 3D modeling industry,
    >> and feel they can be more profitable in other markets.

    Really? Did you interview anyone at Google to confirm their intentions or what they “Feel” they could be doing? Google absolutely wanted to be in the “3D modeling industry” Google wants to own any source of data that can be sliced/diced and monetized. The second I read “…they probably” it is code for “I like to hear myself talk more than I like to do background research”. You need to separate the fiction from the facts – or at least identify the former. Good analysts don’t take WAGs – they formulate professional analysis based on tons of research and journalism – not on personal opinion.

    Likewise, did you actually call Trimble and interview someone familiar with the purchase? Didn’t think so. It’s not at all “obvious” that they’ll be looking for a ROI. That would be one reasonable conclusion, but companies buy other companies for lots of reasons. Maybe they just wanted market share in something else. Maybe THEY need a 3D engine for some other project. There is actually no evidence whatsoever (yet) to suggest that they’ll try to monetize SketchUp beyond what Google is doing now.

    BTW – It has been rumored that Trimble paid between $90-100M (we have not heard the breakdown of cash/stock/whatever) – and that is roughly 10x that Google paid for the Fledgling @Last product. At roughly 5% of their sales revenue, it’s not that much of a stretch, particularly if not much cash was involved.

    Trimble has been a major player in the GIS/GPS space for commercial construction for decades. I’m personally betting that they’re looking to be bigger players in the BIM space and needed a CAD-to-BIM interface. But then – I’m not presenting myself as the “Sketchup Master” with the professional blog. I’m just a dumb user looking for facts that aren’t on the surface of a press release. Do your homework – then publish.

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      Matt Donley

      You’re absolutely correct that this is speculation. There really isn’t a lot of information about this deal right now, but I wanted to express my opinion on what I thought was going on behind the scenes.

      $90-100M? Holy Moly! That’s incredible. And I agree that it certainly sounds feasible for Trimble with the size of their company. And I bet you’re on to something when you say they’re planning to be bigger players in the BIM space. When I first heard about Trimble, I never realized how much they are already involved in the construction industry.

      Thanks for the comment, keepin it real!

  2. JS

    I hope sketchup could include the original full set library rather having it online.

    Sketchup 5 and 6 had its own library!!
    Its very useful for offline work.

    Me too. mixed feeling abt the this transition! Sad


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