We get that a lot. But it’s usually from the marketing folk. They have to make over-the-top claims. It’s some kind of law. But here was technologist, Gian Paolo Bassi, VP of R&D who, despite having joined SolidWorks one year hence, was insisting that SolidWorks 2013 was the best release in 15 years.
Was it bluster, over excitement, too many expressos? May be the first big release since you took office is exciting. Should I fault the father of his first born for bragging?
If you think the head of R&D for a CAD software company should be a nerd, Gian Paolo is only too quick to dispense with the stereotype. He made his public debut with SolidWorks at their annual user meeting in February (SolidWorks World 2012). He had only just joined the company but already had called a press conference. The press had been whipped up in a frenzy from various sources (competitors mostly) about SolidWorks abandoning its longstanding geometry engine (Parasolid) in favor of the CATIA kernel (see SolidWorks: the Kernel Change). Gian Paolo was fending question after question. No, that was not the case, he assured us. He was confident without being brash, smooth without being slippery. It was an admirable blend of knowledge and reassurance that belied his short stint
Now, at the introduction of SolidWorks 2013, he already knew us. If not from SolidWorks World, then from the press dinner the evening before. It was a catered clam bake, and we were getting whole Maine lobsters. (I know…tough life, right?) . Gian Paolo had polished off 3 lobsters all by himself. This was no shy CAD executive – many won’t even have drink around us. Here was a man afraid of neither press or lobster. He is now legend among us.
A natural in front of a room, Gain Paolo has been given more of a public role - certainly more than his predecessor, Austin O’Malley. He has built his team, appointing a new head of Q&A and revitalizing the Beta testing program. Gian Paolo introduces me to Justin Kidder, promoted from his post in simulation to Q&A director. While the true test of a CAD program is in the hands of the user, the Beta program results seem promising. The 4,600 beta downloads actually in use are 30% higher with SolidWorks 2012, due to a more ambitious outreach to the user community. But the number of errors reported is 60% of what they were for SolidWorks 2012 at the same point in development. I see Graham Rae, who heads the Beta program (and is a heckuva bike rider) who tells me the number of beta testers is 2 to 3 times that of the previous release.
Though we need to see the reaction of users and customers to SolidWorks 2013 (release date is Monday, Sep 10), Gian Paolo certainly makes a convincing and reassuring case for its success.