Siemens 0, Autodesk (April) 1

Siemens 0, Autodesk (April) 1

Personally, I find most April fool jokes to be pretty lame. I considered doing one myself, and had what I thought was a pretty convincing idea, but finally decided against it. Maybe next year.

This year, there was one definite exception to the lameness rule. It was well set up, clever and funny. Siemens killed it. Or, to be more accurate, they foolishly attempted to kill it. Fortunately, the Twitter CADville app is still alive and even now being tended by somebody with a fine sense of humour, as you can see from tweets like this:

Sometimes you will see duplicate messages. That can happen after downtime. You want better, write your own CADville #cadville.

Sometimes, the cloud is a big server farm. Othertimes, is a crappy laptop that needs to go to the programmer’s girlfriends house. Back in 1h

Once Siemens pulled Mark Burhop’s corporate blog post, in an attempt to protect Mark, Deelip removed his own related post (edit: now restored). But the very idea that you can hide stuff like this once it has been blogged about is plainly ludicrous. Returning wine to a shattered bottle would be much easier.

Ralph describes the CADville story here, you can also see it on Twitpic here, and the original FAQ has been reposted here. Now I’m posting about it on a blog that gets about 90,000 page reads a month. I expect there will be a fair bit of comment buzzing around the CAD community for a while, none of which will reflect well on Siemens.

If this gag had been left to run, I would have either not heard about it at all, or would have noticed it as a funny little episode that showed how cool it was that Siemens doesn’t fit the ‘humourless German’ stereotype. The failure of this futile censorship attempt is a classic case of the Streisand Effect. Apparently, there are people with corporate clout at Siemens who either haven’t heard of it, or delude themselves into thinking that social media are somehow controllable from on high. Nope, sorry, think again.

Deelip said this on Ralph’s blog, and it sums it up nicely:

Yes, this whole thing could and should have ended differently. What I find odd is that CAD vendors talk about social networking and social media and how they are embracing it in different forms. What Mark tried to do was exactly that. He got some of us to blog, others to tweet, irrespective of our affiliations, so that this prank (which is exactly what it is) would look as real as possible. I did my part.

Too bad Siemens does not get what social networking and social media is actually all about.

Congratulations, corporate klutzes, you have succeeded in making your company look completely clueless. Out of touch much? Duh!

Compare this with Autodesk. OK, Scott Sheppard’s Autodesk Love Maker 2011 joke didn’t have me ROFLMAOing or even LOLing, and it was pretty obviously an April fool, but it was still pretty well done. The fact that Autodesk corporate doesn’t throw a hissy fit over stuff like this indicates that it’s at least partly human. The fact that Scott can put a funny picture of his CEO (Pointy Haired Bass) on his blog and still remain employed tells me only good things about Autodesk corporate.

The contrast with Siemens is as stark as it could be.

Edit: Mark (not Matt – apologies) has now restored his post and provided an explanation (of sorts) about the post being pulled. I have asked for a clarification.


  1. Dave Ault

    Very interesting take on the fools day joke. I have to admit that it was slick enough that considering the cloud nonsense that SW is considering I had to wonder. Deelip chiming in so well gave me cause to wonder was this real or not even though it was 4-01.

    What I find even more interesting is your take on how clueless Siemens is about intereacting with the real world. I have used SE for two years now and I am an active participant both with the program and community as a volunteer at PLM World and user group level. I really like the product. But what the old timers have told me has sadly proven to be true. SE is the “best software you have never heard of” just like the subtitle said in a Cadalyst review a few years ago. No advertising and darn little effort to build an active user community and seemingly no desire to change this.

    Look at SW and their wonderfull and active support of their user community. We SE users do with envy and wonder why Siemens thinks that buyers should flock to their apps and be supportive of things like PLM World when the company who stands to benefit from increased sales does not care and proves it with lack of support or effort. Many times this issue comes up in the closed to the public SE forums and the vitriol directed towards Siemens management over this is pretty amazing.

    Why the heck do these idiots think that a Siemens titled ad will make anyone think of SE? You know when you advertise a product do so in terms that your target market will understand. When I went shopping for software I was looking at specific programs not companies. I wanted a look at SE not Siemens. And the frequency makes us sick. Every publication I pick up from “Nasa Tech Briefs” to “Desktop Engineering” has ads without fail for Inventor, PTC, and SW. And by their real names too imagine that. Then there is the scant presence on some occasions by Siemens. You have to read further to see if it is for switch gear, controllers or whatever. It’s like they are to cheap to want to advertise a specific product and figure that they might as well advertise everything with their parsimonious budget. In my opinion all they succeed in doing is wasting their time.

    Clueless? How about this. You read about SW and their yearly convention. Nice crowd and lots of publicity both from motivated users and corporate spending. Now lets look at Siemens. Some years back they had their last SE only national convention. Many hundreds of enthusiastic attendees. I don’t remember reading how many off hand but it was a good sized crowd. The idiots decided that it was not productive for SE to have it’s own identity so they combined it all into a PLM World thing that was all of the Siemens software from FEA to CAD. I chaired every session for SE at PLM World last summer because the antipathy created by how Siemens mishandles itself with the SE user community is so great that no one else wanted to do it. SE user attendance last year was 37 people. I hope Siemens big shots read this and wince. But they know it’s true cause I saw the numbers they have seen.

    There are a lot of SE users. This happens in spite of Siemens by individuals that take a comprehensive look at what is available and judge the products according to capabilities. Yes I am opinionated as I chose with money out of my pocket SE above SW Inventor etal because in my opinion it is the best buy for the money and there is nothing better than Synchronous out there for what I do. [This paragraph by the way now constitutes a better add for SE than you will see anywhere by Siemens this month.]

    I started the only new user group for SE in quite some time with the eager assistance of the folks at SE headquarters in Huntsville. At the SE level there is tremendous support for user communities and Dan Staples is a regular poster at the forums. These guys care and I can’t say enough good about them as their would be no user group without them. But then their desires to develope the community and SE identity is smothered by those above them with control of the purse strings. I have had promises made to me that Helmut, you know as in top dog at Siemens world wide, has decided that they need to get behind the user community and get it going. That was last September and as far as I can see things have only degraded since that time. What the old timers have told me is true. These same promises have been made to various individuals over the years but the proof is in the pudding and today I understand their cynicism.

    “Congratulations, corporate klutzes, you have succeeded in making your company look completely clueless. Out of touch much? Duh!” You have no idea how bad it really is and how if anything this is an understatement. I believe in SE as the best product out there for the money and I spend my time in dollars to buy it and time as a volunteer to support it. I could only wish that the company that stands to profit from my efforts would do the same. I am calling you Siemens guys out, put your money where your mouth is. You want increased sales and a great user community than start acting like it and knock off the idle promises.

  2. Steve, you said above “If this gag had been left to run, I would have either not heard about it at all” and I completely agree. I don’t work with Siemens products so I don’t follow them to closely, so I never would have heard of the joke. BUT in their effort to silence it, they only made it louder. It is often best in our world that if you don’t like what people are saying, to ignore them. Don’t draw more attention to something.

  3. Just as an FYI,

    The guys’s name is Mark, not Matt. 😉

    I hope those corporate types learn to grow a sense of humor. And I hope Mark loses only his blog and not his job over something as silly as this.

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