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(Image courtesy of Altair Engineering).

Altair Engineering Blooms as Prototyping Shifts Toward Software

Altair Engineering, which sells simulation software for analyzing antenna interference, aerodynamics, and other effects, rounded off an initial public offering on Monday after raising almost $180 million from the sale of its first cache of stock.

The company, which is based in Troy, Michigan, has bloomed as electrical engineers spend more time prototyping products from rockets to wearables in virtual software labs. The firm, which is profitable, sells simulation software to customers like SpaceX, Facebook, and Daimler, which run it on racks of high-performance servers.

Last month, Altair disclosed that it planned to raise $144 million in an initial public offering priced at $13 per share. Since the company went public last week, its stock price has swelled. On Tuesday, the stock was trading at around $19.40 per share, valuing the software firm at almost $1.2 billion.

Altair's software is an increasingly important tool for RF engineers, said Ulrich Jakobis, Altair's head of electromagnetic solutions, in a recent interview. The company’s Feko software can be used for prototyping antennas and placing them on connected cars, airplanes, and ships where they are safe from wireless interference, he said.

“Almost everybody in the tech world actually is a customer," said James Scapa, Altair’s chief executive, in an interview with TechCrunch. Last year, Altair's revenues were $313 million, up from $294 million the previous year. The company, which was founded in 1985 and employs around 2,000 employees worldwide, reaped profits of $10.2 million.

The company’s competitors include France’s Dassault Systèmes, which owns electromagnetic software maker Computer Simulation Technology. Another rival is Ansys, which recently updated its core software to simulate how wireless signals react to colliding with trees and buildings as well as hitting patches of interference and rainfall.

Over the last year, Altair has been expanding into tools that aid chip designers. In May, it bought the electronic design automation firm Modeliis, giving it a foothold in software dominated by the likes of Cadence and Synopsys. In September, it acquired RunTime Design Automation for tools that schedule simulation jobs run inside data centers.

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