Avid wraps 3-D ani business

Deal with Autodesk could close by year's end; 410 layoffs expected

Avid Technology is exiting the 3-D computer animation market.

The company is selling its Softimage 3-D software business to Autodesk for an estimated $35 million. It might close the deal by year's end.

About 90 Avid employees who worked on the Softimage business are expected to join Autodesk with the closure of the deal. An additional 410 layoffs are expected at Avid. The combined 500 staffers represent a reduction of nearly 20% of Avid's work force, which the company said would "better align its cost structure around the core businesses" of video and audio.

Softimage's XSI is one of three key 3-D software programs used in entertainment production. The two others — Maya and 3ds max — already are owned by Autodesk, which controls the bulk of the market.

"Softimage is not a strategic fit for our business," said Gary Greenfield, who was named CEO of Avid in December.

Avid bought Softimage from Microsoft in 1998 for $285 million in cash and stock.

Softimage is headquartered in Montreal, where Autodesk's Media and Entertainment business is headquartered.

On Thursday, Avid reported revenue of $217.1 million for the three-month period ended Sept. 30, compared with $226.8 million for the same period in 2007. (partialdiff)