If you want to buy a 3D CAD or PLM system, you have to choose one of four giant vendors: Dassault Systèmes, Autodesk, PTC, or Siemens PLM.

Dassault Systèmes SA

The maker of CATIA 3D CAD started as a business unit of the French aerospace group that makes the Mirage fighter aircraft. Today it offers two 3D CAD platforms: CATIA and SolidWorks, the latter developed by the eponymous Massachusetts-based company Dassault acquired in 1997. The two platforms are not compatible. Dassault is second to Siemens PLM in enterprise-class CAD/PLM systems, with a corporate client base that includes Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Renault, and some divisions at Lockheed Martin. SolidWorks is the best-selling mainstream 3D CAD product, besting rival products from Autodesk, Siemens PLM, and smaller vendors.

Established: 1981, business unit of Dassault Group
HQ: Vélizy-Villacoublay, France (southwest of Paris) and Waltham, Massachusetts (SolidWorks)
Leader: Bernard Charlès, president and chief executive officer (CEO); Bertrand Sicot, CEO SolidWorks
Employees: 10,122 (as of 2012)
Key product lines: CATIA (CAD), SolidWorks (CAD), SIMULIA (physical simulation and analysis), DELMIA (factory simulation), ENOVIA (data management)
Annual revenue: 2.28 billion Euros (as of 2012)
Companies: SIMPOE, SFE, Netvibes, Exalead, Intercim, SolidWorks
Acquired: Gemcom, Safe Technology, Enginuity, many others
Strengths: With the exception of SolidWorks and some recent acquisitions, ...

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