ThingWorx, a not-yet-profitable Exton software firm that helps companies exploit the user data that "smart connected products" like cars, farm tractors, washing machines and other manufactured goods are starting to send to each other (e.g. via wi-fi and Bluetooth) -- so their makers, owners and servicing companies can create an "Internet of things," and sell users more and better services -- has been sold to publicly-traded industrial software-maker PTC, of Needham, Mass., by owners including Safeguard Scientifics of Wayne and founders John Richardson, Russ Fadel and Rick Bullotta, for $112 million, plus an extra $18 million to the company's founders and other owners if sales rise as expected over the next two years. The company employs around 50, who expect to become part of PTC.
ThingWorx, which expects annualized revenues of over $10 million next year, based on licensing sales for connected sensors on MRI scanners and other machines, claims manufacturers like General Electric, software firms like Oracle, Google, Twitter and Salesforce, and integrators like CSC and Saberpoint among those who have used its software "to connect and collect streams of data coming from online products" and "to build business aplications that listen to and analyze those data streams" and "process service events," PTC chief executive James E. Heppelman told analysts in a conference call this morning.
PTC has promising products but has reported flat sales in the past year and expects only "lackluster" growth in the near future, wrote analyst Yun Kim in a report to clients at Janney Capital Markets. Kim endorsed Heppelman's view that machine connectivity "will be the single most significant, disruptive forcein the marketplace... as products become smarter," but pointed out that doesn't guarantee profits; he also noted the buyer doesn't expect ThingWorx to boost earnings soon.
In the conference call, Heppelman said ThingWorx hopes to sell into "the rapid evolution toward smart connected products" linking manufacturers, servicers and users via sensors and microprocessors, and to track products and users: "There's an explosion of possibilities." PTC was developing similar software, but found that ThingWorx was "years ahead of everybody," Heppelman added. Heppelman said Russ Fadel will remain ThingWorx president.
Fadel told investors ThingWorx will serve, not only factories, but also "smart agriculture, smart buildings..." to which Heppelman added, "everything from smart minds, smart cities, and so much more."