It wasn't 'the right time' but ThingWorx decided to sell anyway. Here's why - Philly


It wasn’t ‘the right time’ but ThingWorx decided to sell anyway. Here’s why

The "Internet of Things" company was acquired early this year. At this week's IMPACT conference, ThingWorx CTO Rick Bullotta sketched out the backstory.

The IMPACT panel on big local exits.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

It was an offer they couldn’t refuse.

The founders of ThingWorx, the Exton-based “Internet of Things” company, made the call to sell their company to PTC for $112 million in early 2014 — even though it wasn’t the right time, said CTO Rick Bullotta on a panel at the IMPACT conference this week.

“We were in a hyper growth market,” he said. “We were committed to raising more capital.”

In 2013, ThingWorx was in the thick of an “Internet of Things craze,” as Bullotta put it. “We had all the big boys — IBM, GE — doing our marketing for us.”

But PTC, a publicly-traded company in the Boston area, was committed to getting into the Internet of Things space — and they were willing to pay for it.

“Our CFO put out a real stretch number, and we all said, ‘Wow, that’s ambitious,'” Bullotta recalled.

Not so for PTC, said Bullotta.

It wasn’t only about the money, though. ThingWorx had other major questions, like “Are we going to be able to finish our vision?” Bullotta said. “Are our employees going to be taken care of?”

Once those questions were answered (all 50 ThingWorx employees kept their jobs in Exton post-acquisition and the company continues to operate as ThingWorx), Bullotta and his team signed off on the deal.

ThingWorx was the second exit for Bullotta, an angel investor whose LinkedIn says he’d eventually like to be a mountain bike guide or a science teacher. He cofounded Lighthammer Software Development with ThingWorx CEO Russ Fadel. They sold the company to SAP in 2005 and Bullotta spent a few years as an SAP exec.

ThingWorx is a platform for businesses to manage their connected devices and systems. Think of it as the Facebook of things.


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