Why Did LogMeIn Buy Pachube?

A couple weeks ago newly IPO’ed Boston area company LogMeIn announced it had acquired one of the cooler companies in the “internet of things” space, Pachube.   I’ve long followed the space and continue to find it fascinating (for some great articles, check out ReadWriteWeb’s internet of things topic archive here).  I agree with Cisco that the number of devices on the internet is undoubtedly going to be huge, and I think Pachube is a really cool project to help drive people in that direction with their API and community.

I am a LogMeIn user – it’s a great service.  In particular, I like the ability to totally control a computer from an iPad while on the beach, using their Ignition iOS app.  For those large desktop programs you cannot, and generally would not want to, have running on a tablet or smartphone, it can be just the ticket for taking care of that one desktop chore that would have otherwise forced you back into the office.

So I am clear that they are both great companies.  But where I get a little fuzzy is exactly what LogMeIn, which focuses on human interaction with remote computers wants with Pachube which is focused exclusively on device interaction with remote computers.

They say it is to augment their Gravity platform and should allow them to extend what they do beyond computers to devices.  Could be.  It is entirely possible, now LogMeIn have their IPO behind them, that they are starting to work on that vision thing.  Perhaps it will evolve to become an important business unit for LogMeIn.  I wouldn’t rule that out over the long term.  Or maybe it is a management lift-out to grab a bunch of talent in one fell swoop.  But I suspect something else could be afoot.

I wonder if the acquisition has more to do with intellectual property than anything else.  My suspicion is that one of the other big players in this space  such as Cisco (telepresence, web conferencing) or Citrix (desktop virtualization) might have put some patent pressure on LogMeIn.  LogMeIn may be looking at their roadmap and feeling a little nervous.  Pachube may represent a path to a leap-frog architecture and have the IP to back it up, or they may merely have snagged some other key defensive patents.  If so, LogMeIn may be figuring it is better to grab them now for short change while they can (Pachube purchase price was estimated at $15M).  Who knows.  I guess we’ll find out before too long.

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