Select Page

At the end of 26 years of successfully leading PTC, Jim Heppelmann stopped by PTC’s new office in Munich on October 5 as part of his global farewell tour. At the beginning of 2024, he will hand over the baton as CEO to Neil Barua, who joined him at the end of the press roundtable. Just the day before, another corporate acquisition had been announced: PTC is taking over the German software company pure-systems.

When Jim Heppelmann and the company he founded, Windchill, were taken over by PTC in 1998, the first major phase of success for the provider of the parametric CAD system Pro/Engineer was already at its end.

The Windchill PLM system turned out to be the great opportunity for a second upswing. And Jim Heppelmann grew first into the development management and finally into the management position of the entire company, which he is now handing over – after 13 highly successful years – at the end of this year.

Jim Heppelmann, always an open discussion partner (photo Sendler)

A good-humored Jim Heppelmann (photo Sendler)

At the beginning of the new millennium, PTC’s success curve begins under Jim Heppelmann (photo Sendler)

In the process, PTC first passed through a deep trough before – with a large number of successful acquisitions and at the same time a strategically well thought-out and continuous further development of its industrial software portfolio – moving to its current all-time high in the last ten years. Jim Heppelmann showed the graph illustrating this with obvious pride.

Among PTC’s global clientele in the manufacturing industry, automotive manufacturers and their suppliers occupy a clear pre-eminent position. At a meeting of leading representatives of this industry the previous day, Jim Heppelmann had presented his view of their major challenge of developing entire vehicles in an agile manner in the future. In this context, he mentioned that the leading German car manufacturers had recently acquired tens of thousands of licenses of PTC’s Codebeamer precisely for this purpose. PTC had acquired Intland, a provider founded in Stuttgart in 1998, with its application lifecycle management (ALM) system Codebeamer in May 2022.

The latest acquisition of pure-systems, announced on October 4, brings another German manufacturer under the wing of PTC. Its pure::variants tool, developed in Magdeburg, is used to manage software variants of the kind needed in industry for an enormously growing number of variants.

The ability not only to track them across the resulting configurations, but also to ensure their management, makes pure-systems an important addition and was already associated with both Windchill and Codebeamer before the acquisition.

Jim Heppelmann is quoted in the press release as saying, “We believe the combination of Codebeamer and pure::variants positions PTC as a leader in software requirements, configuration, test and validation solutions in the marketplace.”

Quite possibly. What is certain is that Jim Heppelmann has brought PTC a whole series of promising acquisitions during his time as CEO. And that his alignment of the software portfolio from CAD to PLM and ALM to IoT (ThingWorx) and Cloud (Onshape) has made the company one of the best-positioned providers of software for the manufacturing industry in times of great upheaval and a general digital transformation.

Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC until the end of this year (photo Sendler)

Neil Barua, CEO of PTC from 2024 (photo Sendler)

Jim Heppelmann graduated in mechanical engineering before focusing on software as the most important tool in modern engineering. His successor, Neil Barua, is a business economist. Earlier this year, he sold ServiceMax, the company he headed, to PTC. Before that, he gained experience as an operating partner of Silverlake, a U.S. investor specializing in technology companies.

Jim Heppelmann was calm when asked why PTC did not choose another technology expert as his successor: “PTC no longer needs to keep technology expertise in the CEO position. We have taken care of that over the past five years by building a very strong leadership team. The CEO needs to be adept at leading the company.”

We’ll see how that works out and how PTC evolves in the years ahead. What is certain is that with Jim Heppelmann, one of the last pioneers of industrial software is leaving. His enormous knowledge and understanding, his humor, and his pleasant manner, even with representatives of the media, will be missed.