Top 20 Built World Moments of 2018

WELCOME TO THE TOP 20
BUILT WORLD MOMENTS OF 2018

 

2018 was yet another big year in the built world. Whether through technology, venture financing, or sheer innovative thinking, the construction, architecture, engineering, and real estate industries continued to evolve. At BuiltWorlds, we witnessed that evolution firsthand as the world’s leading thinkers, builders, technologists, and deal-makers pushed the industry onward and upward in the face of new challenges.

Heavy hitters like SoftBank and Katerra struck billion dollar financing deals. Amazon announced the results of its much-anticipated HQ2 sweepstakes. We saw robot dogs, record-setting autonomous machinery, large-scale acquisition and market consolidation (we see you, Autodesk), 3D-printed houses, and more.

With so much going on in the built space, we wanted to trace our steps back through an exciting year and resurface the 20 moments that stand out the most. For each event, we asked our team of analysts to give us their take. To cap off the countdown, we polled our network of 200+ member companies and asked them to identify the 3 most impactful events of the year. The network has spoken, and the results are in!

We hope you enjoy our 2018 countdown. As the year winds down, we are gearing up for an even bigger 2019 at BuiltWorlds. With a lineup of 12 conferences across the country (actually, the world!), 30+ research reports containing insights from our experienced member networkthe latest in industry news, and other unique networking opportunities, we are excited to carry the industry's momentum into the new year. Now, we want to hear from you and include your perspective.

Learn how to become a BuiltWorlds member to engage with us and gain access to all of our 2019 events and insights. Stay tuned, and Happy New Year from the whole BuiltWorlds team!

- Number Twenty -

LARGEST COMMERCIAL DRONE ORDER IN HISTORY HEADS TO JAPAN

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-03

What happened?

Drone technology was the sweetheart of 2017 for both consumers and industry alike. However, with the many construction software solutions coming to market for the construction industry, it’s important to note the actual use cases. As such, the largest drone manufacturer, DJI, saw an order of 1,000 custom-made Matrice 100 drones with Skycatch imaging technology from Japanese construction giant, Komatsu.

Analyst Breakdown

Drones have seen explosive growth within the construction industry as professionals are focusing on the connected job site. However, they act as just one part of this broader concept. Check out our Connected Job Site 50 List to dive further into drone companies and other technologies changing the way we operate construction sites.

- Number Nineteen -

MARK ZUCKERBERG ANNOUNCES RELEASE DATE FOR OCULUS QUEST (SPRING 2019)

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-10

What happened?

During the fifth annual Oculus Connect Conference in San Jose, California, standalone VR was announced through the planned release of the Oculus Quest. The release is Oculus’s third iteration of its VR hardware, emphasizing the users mobile-first experience.

Analyst Breakdown

The built industry has developed a multitude of applications for VR technology, but the viability of these solutions has been strained by the processing power needed to bring the technology into the field. However, with the planned release of the Oculus Quest, developers have already begun working use cases for the completely wireless headset, which requires no connection to any external hardware, in construction. Quest will be able to run professional-grade design programs without setting up a full VR workspace in the office.

- Number Eighteen -

NASA REVEALS WINNERS OF 3D PRINTED MARS HABITAT DESIGN CONTEST

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-21

What happened?

In 2015 NASA launched a 3D-printed habitat challenge to find suitable accommodation concepts for the first wave of martian residents. The contest tapped the brightest design and engineering minds in the world to conceptualize the habitat of our perhaps not-so-distant Martian future. In July of 2018, they announced the 5 finalists of that contest, and the winners ranged from small private teams to large renown universities.

Analyst Breakdown

The topics of 3D printing and modular residential construction are 2 of our favorites at BuiltWorlds, although we have yet to place those trends in the context of space exploration... As the proposition of colonizing Mars grows increasingly feasible, our leading designers, engineers, and builders are starting to be leaned on as resources for planning and building those communities. This is an exciting time to be in the business of building!

- Number Seventeen -

LYFT EXPANDS RIDESHARE PLATFORM WITH $250M MOTIVATE ACQUSITION

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-20

What happened?

Lyft’s July acquisition of bike-share platform Motivate represented a massive step forward for the urban mobility leader as they continue to expand. Since making the deal, Lyft has already begun rolling out its own branded shared scooters in a number of cities, and plans to introduce their bike platform soon.

Analyst Breakdown

This deal marked a dramatic flare up in the urban mobility arms race between Uber and Lyft, and came in response to Uber’s acquisition of dockless bike company Jump in April 2018. As both platforms aim to expand their services and provide as many alternative options to personal automobile ownership for urban commuters as possible, Lyft has begun to separate itself both in terms of scale and dedication to fitting into a larger framework for more sustainable, smarter cities.

- Number Sixteen -

KOMATSU'S FRONTRUNNER AUTONOMOUS HAULAGE SYSTEM SETS RECORD MOVING OVER 2 BILLION TONS

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-22

What happened?

2018 witnessed leading heavy equipment manufacturer Komatsu set a record for autonomous haulage. Their FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System has moved more than 2 billion tons of material using an impressive fleet of roughly 130 autonomous trucks. They aren’t stopping there; Komatsu has plans to build on this milestone by deploying an additional 150 trucks on sites across the globe over the next seven years.

Analyst Breakdown

The proliferation of autonomous hauling technology, and the automation of other construction machinery, is a trend that is near and dear to us at BuiltWorlds. The technology sector has proven its ability to improve the profitability, productivity, and efficiency of building projects in a number of ways, and automation is a big part of that. Milestones like this one represent significant leaps forward in the evolution of the modern construction site. Learn more about the future of this and other construction machinery at our BuiltWorlds Machines Conference in June 2019.

- Number Fifteen -

BOSTON DYNAMICS DEVELOPS ROBOT DOGS FOR CONSTRUCTION SITE MONITORING

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-17

What happened?

Just one of Boston Dynamics’ deep lineup of robots, SpotMini is poised to transform the construction job site. Announced in October, the dog-like robot’s impressive range of motion, 3D vision, and ability to navigate obstacles make it a great fit for jobsite monitoring applications.

Analyst Breakdown

The market for jobsite monitoring technology continues to expand with this unique solution to long standing questions about progress tracking as well as safety and risk management. SpotMini takes the jobsite camera a step further with the ability to roam the site, providing a more comprehensive view of the entire work area. To learn more about jobsite monitoring technology check out our recent research report Avoid Added Delays with Jobsite Monitoring

- Number Fourteen -

CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD RAISES $765M IN IPO

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-08

What happened?

Real-estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, completed its initial public offering (IPO) on the second trading day of August. The newly public entity priced in at 5.9% above its IPO price on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker CWK.

Analyst Breakdown

The real estate services giant decided to price its shares at the midpoint of its range, turning out to be a good call given its immediate trading success. The company plans to use capital raised through the IPO to pay off some of its debt, in addition to paying off a $460.4M loan set to mature in 2020. Cushman & Wakefield is the third-largest global player in the commercial brokerage space, trailing only CBRE and JLL.

- Number Thirteen -

SOFTBANK'S VISION FUND ANNOUNCES $1.1 BILLION INVESTMENT INTO VIEW INC

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-11

What happened?

Just under two years ago, internet-connected windowpane unicorn, View Inc. was valued at $1.1 billion after bringing in over $500 million in funding. Today, View has flipped that valuation on its head as it is set to receive $1.1 billion in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund for the purpose of doubling its manufacturing capabilities and R&D efforts.

Analyst Breakdown

View’s product costs about 4x more than regular glass. But the company has argued that it saves customers money by lowering their energy costs (up to 20%). Partnering with municipalities to implement this technology in airport terminals as well as with corporations like Facebook, FedEx, and JPMorgan, View is witnessing a meteoric rise. With this funding from Softbank, View plans to add various capabilities to its product including break-in security.

- Number Twelve -

TRIMBLE ACQUIRES E-BUILDER

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-01

What happened?

On the heels of Oracle’s blockbuster $1.2 billion buyout of Australian project management software company, Aconex, Trimble punched back in February with its own $500 million acquisition of cloud-based program manager, e-Builder.

Analyst Breakdown

If you operate within or around the construction industry it is near impossible to escape the influence of Oracle, Sage, Trimble, Autodesk, Procore, and others. The largest project management software companies are expanding, and expanding fast, through acquisitions throughout 2017 and 2018. We will see how this continues in the year to come.

- Number Eleven -

AIRWARE SHUTS DOWN AFTER RECEIVING $118M IN FUNDING

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-12

What happened?

Well-funded drone company, Airwave, shut its doors in September. The company had received $118 million from investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Caterpillar, and Google.

Analyst Breakdown

Drones seemingly took over the construction technology news cycle for most of 2017 with their promise of improving efficiencies and transparency across the project lifecycle. In 2018, we witnessed our first major drone player shut down its business after scaling too fast for the market to keep up. With its $118 million in funding, Airware attempted to develop its own drone, launch a commercial-use drone fund, and acquire the drone analytics software company, Redbird. To learn more about how your company can take steps to implementing drone technology on your job sites, check out our Research Report titled, Strategies for Drone Implementation.

- Number Ten -

FLUOR PARTNERS WITH IBM WATSON TO DELIVER PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS TO MEGAPROJECTS

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-19

What happened?

Fluor Corporation in September announced an exciting new partnership with IBM Watson to propel their data analytics platform with the goal of gaining new insights and predicting critical project outcomes across their diverse range of construction activities. With the processing power of IBM’s renown AI platform, Fluor can predict, monitor and measure the status of engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction megaprojects from inception to completion.

Analyst Breakdown

Data is permeating the construction jobsite. More and more built companies are turning to powerful analytics and AI platforms to process data collected from monitoring technology, wearables, equipment tracking systems, project schedules, budgets, and more. In doing so, project managers and other decision makers gain a more complete view of what is happening on their projects. With large scale infrastructure projects from companies like Fluor, the cost savings are impressive. Look out for our upcoming January research report, AI and Machine Learning in Preconstruction.

- Number Nine -

TRIMBLE ACQUIRES VIEWPOINT

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-05

What happened?

Trimble purchased With the acquisition of Viewpoint, Trimble will expand its central workflow platform bringing integrated end-to-end construction management and connectivity across the complete construction lifecycle.

Analyst Breakdown

Viewpoint’s capabilities will complement Trimble’s acquisition of SaaS-based construction program management solution e-Builder in February. It’s focus on general and specialty contractors will further link project data to the owner-facing e-Builder suite for end-to-end project transparency.

- Number Eight -

SOFTBANK'S VISION FUND COMMITS $3B IN ADDITIONAL CAPITAL TO WEWORK

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-09

What happened?

SoftBank has agreed to pay $3 billion to WeWork in the form of a warrant. The deal gives SoftBank an opportunity to buy shares before September 2019 at a price of $110/share or higher. This all depends on a few factors including the potential for an IPO, an acquisition, or raises of $1 billion before that date.

Analyst Breakdown

This investment sparks further evidence that SoftBank is exploring the decision to take a majority stake in the co-working giant, WeWork. The Japanese holding conglomerate already owns nearly 20% of the company that is quickly nearing a $40 billion valuation. This has proven an emphasis on the company’s long term potential more than its short-term profitability concerns.

- Number Seven -

FBR'S FULLY AUTONOMOUS HADRIAN X DELIVERS ENTIRE HOUSE IN UNDER 3 DAYS

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-18

What happened?

Hadrian X, an autonomous end-to-end bricklaying solution developed by Australian robotics leader FBR, in November demonstrated its ability by constructing a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in under 3 days. This achievement represented a world first and a longstanding goal for FBR and the 3D printing industry.

Analyst Breakdown

As robotics and autonomous machinery continue to shape the future of the construction industry, FBR’s accomplishment is a massive push in that direction. Not only did their Hadrian X technology build the test structure at record pace, but the final product also passed Australia’s strict Factory Acceptance Testing requirements. With potential improvements to project delivery in terms of cost, time, and quality, this is a great sign of what is yet to come in construction robotics. Learn more about the future of construction machinery and 3D printing at our BuiltWorlds Machines Conference in June 2019.

- Number Six -

AUTODESK ACQUIRES ASSEMBLE SYSTEMS

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-07

What happened?

Assemble Systems became a part of the Autodesk family in July following its acquisition in order to integrate with the tech-giant’s BIM 360 software. Autodesk has plans to leverage the expertise of Assemble in pre-construction data and use it downstream to better round out its capabilities.

Analyst Breakdown

Autodesk led Assembles series A in 2017, so the strategic investment and relationship had been in existence for some time. The terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but the purchase will take place with a mixture of cash and stock. We’ve witnessed some enormous acquisitions taking place in late 2017 and the first half of 2018, and this is no exception. Check out our exclusive interview with Assemble's president Don Henrich.

- Number Five -

WEWORK SECURES $1B FROM SOFTBANK

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-23

What happened?

It’s no surprise that SoftBank is WeWork’s biggest supporter after its massive $4.4 billion investment in the co-working giant back in 2017. SoftBank continued this investment with an additional $1 billion investment in August. The company plans to use the new influx of funds for overseas expansion, building office space, and acquiring new properties and leaseholds.

Analyst Breakdown

2018 was a record-breaking year for funding within the built environment, increasing by year-over-year percentages we could never have predicted. This, however, must be taken with a grain of salt as the largest portion of this rise in investment has come from one player: SoftBank. Their Vision Fund has not rested, sending money into enormous built industry companies including Katerra and WeWork. To learn more about venture funding in the built world check out our research report: Venture in the Built World.

- Number Four -

BUILDING VENTURES CLOSES DEBUT BUILT INDUSTRY FUND AT $53M

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-06

What happened?

Built environment venture leaders Jesse Devitte and Travis Connors in December closed the $53 million debut fund for Building Ventures, a new venture group aimed at investing in and mentoring built technology startups with innovative solutions for the industry. This comes as a fitting cap to the 2018 influx of venture capital into the built world.  

Analyst Breakdown

As the roles of innovation and technology in the built industry continue to grow, so has the role of venture capital. With more funds being created that are specifically targeted at funding and accelerating construction tech startups, the market for solutions to age-old problems is expanding. Building Ventures has made collaboration with industry leaders a mainstay of the fund as demonstrated by a roster of investors across the U.S., Europe, and Asia including DPR, Gilbane, Hilti, Mortenson, Obayashi, and Thornton Tomasetti. The expertise of its Built Environment Innovation Network maintains the goal to help the fund identify and grow the most impactful startups while driving the industry forward.

BUILTWORLDS MEMBER NETWORK TOP 3

- Number Three -

AMAZON ANNOUNCES HQ2 LOCATION(S)

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-13

What happened?

After much anticipation, Amazon in November announced that it would be splitting up its new headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” between Long Island, NY and Crystal City, VA. The unexpected move will bring some 25,000 jobs and 4 million square feet of office space to both locations.

Analyst Breakdown

While the HQ2 prize was highly sought after by nearly every major metropolitan area in the country, it remains to be seen whether or not the tech giant’s arrival will actually benefit the New York and DC regions. The added jobs and investment will come at the cost of exorbitant economic incentives offered to lure Amazon to the east coast. The flood of high-wage workers to both cities also likely promises to strain both the housing markets and transit networks of each. To prepare, both New York and DC have planned extensive investment in transportation/neighborhood infrastructure projects and workforce development programs. Learn more about how cities around the globe are changing at our BuiltWorlds Cities conference in August 2019.

- Number Two -

SOFTBANK LEADS AN $865M INVESTMENT IN KATERRA

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-02

What happened?

It’s no surprise that SoftBank is WeWork’s biggest supporter after its massive $4.4 billion investment in the co-working giant back in 2017. SoftBank continued this investment with an additional $1 billion investment in August. The company plans to use the new influx of funds for overseas expansion, building office space, and acquiring new properties and leaseholds.

Analyst Breakdown

2018 was a record-breaking year for funding within the built environment, increasing by year-over-year percentages we could never have predicted. This, however, must be taken with a grain of salt as the largest portion of this rise in investment has come from one player: SoftBank. Their Vision Fund has not rested, sending money into enormous built industry companies including Katerra and WeWork. To learn more about venture funding in the built world check out our research report: Venture in the Built World.

- Number One -

AUTODESK ANNOUNCES PLAN TO ACQUIRE PLANGRID FOR $875M

Illustrations Biggest Stories of 2018-16

What happened?

In November Autodesk announced its planned acquisition of PlanGrid for $875 million, signaling an increased dedication to closing the construction productivity gap using software. In particular, PlanGrid’s ease of implementation in applicable field use cases will go a long way in expanding Autodesk’s already robust selection of solutions for the AEC industry.

Analyst Breakdown

As the market for construction technology continues to consolidate, two of the largest players within the BuiltWorlds network are joining forces at the forefront of the construction software frontier. The acquisition will increase the amount of resources and connections at the disposal of each platform provider, and we look forward to covering this exciting integration further as we move into 2019.