Aras Downloads $40M to Help GE, Microsoft & Others Design Products

As more hardware and devices get connected to the Internet, their increasing complexity is requiring more advanced software to coordinate how they get designed, manufactured, and repaired.

That’s helping drive demand for companies like Aras, a 17-year-old business that sells “product lifecycle management” software to large enterprises like Airbus, General Motors, and Microsoft.

And today, Andover, MA-based Aras is refueling with a $40 million growth investment round led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk, one of the funds from the technology investing firm Silver Lake.

General Electric’s venture capital arm, GE Ventures, also contributed to the round. GE is one of Aras’s customers, and the investment fits into the corporation’s focus on the “industrial Internet”—essentially, turning legacy machines into software-enabled, data-driven devices.

The investment brings Aras’s total venture capital haul to more than $64 million, says Aras founder and CEO Peter Schroer (pictured above). The company’s earlier backers include Greylock Partners, Matrix Partners, and Oak Investment Partners, he says in an e-mail to Xconomy.

Aras says its software helps teams collaborate on product development and manufacturing, as well as create consistent business processes. The software helps manage things like manufacturing data, bills of materials, and requests to make changes to products. The idea is to help make product development and manufacturing more efficient, minimize errors, and reduce the time it takes to bring new products to market.

Aras is up against bigger players like PTC, Siemens, and Autodesk. Part of Aras’s pitch is it uses Web-based, open-source software, which Schroer says makes its technology simpler to deploy.

“Products have become complex systems of systems, involving layers of software, electronic, and physical design,” he says. “To be successful, companies require a modern, open, flexible solution that connects all users to information across the product lifecycle.”

Aras makes money by charging fees for training or consulting on the software, and by selling annual subscriptions that include software upgrades and additional tools and services. More than 1,000 companies use the firm’s software, and it has more than 275 paying customers, Schroer says. He wouldn’t say if Aras is profitable, but he says the company’s revenue grew around 65 percent annually over the past three years.

Aras has more than 250 employees, and it plans to add another 50 people this year in customer service, marketing, and product development, Schroer says. Those hires will be based in the U.S., Japan, and central Europe.

The new funding could also be used to make acquisitions, he says.

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