LogMeIn Acquires Ionia for $12M, Intensifying “Internet of Things” Focus

5/6/14Follow @curtwoodward

About a year ago, Boston-based business software provider LogMeIn rolled out a new product intended to take the company in a new direction. 

That product, called Xively, is an online software platform for building the “Internet of Things,” a long-prophesied world in which machines and appliances of all kinds are connected to the Internet—just like your smartphone is today.

Today, LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) is placing another bet on that vision of the future: it’s spending $12 million in cash to acquire Ionia, a Boston-based software integrator that helps businesses tie Internet-connected devices into their back-office sales and planning software systems.

The transaction says a lot about where LogMeIn sees itself going in the future.

As its name implies, the company originally grew on the strength of its remote access software, the kind of thing that can let an IT support person control someone else’s computer remotely. It’s added new applications to the underlying online architecture over the years, such as the join.me online meeting program.

The Internet of Things focus takes LogMeIn down another path entirely. While it represents a fairly small percentage of the company’s revenue today, CEO Michael Simon says the Xively platform and the general Internet of Things sector could be the company’s biggest source of future growth.

“Internet of Things is, without a doubt, LogMeIn’s number one strategic priority,” he says. “It’s the single largest technology market of all time.”

One example of how that might be applied in the real world is illustrated by a client of LogMeIn and its newly acquired Ionia team: New England BioLabs, a provider of enzymes for DNA research.

Since its enzymes have to be kept in freezers, sometimes in secure facilities, researchers who need access to the materials may find them out of stock when they go to retrieve a specimen, the companies said in a news release.

To help solve those supply-chain problems, New England BioLabs is developing Internet-connected freezers that can keep an updated record of how much of a certain enzyme is on hand and how quickly researchers are using them, giving a much more efficient picture of how quickly to ship new supplies.

Making that connection from the device itself to a company’s logistics and planning systems is exactly the kind of work that newly acquired Ionia specializes in. “In order for a connected product to be transformative for a business, it’s not enough for a device or two devices and an app to share data. Those devices need to integrate into the back-office systems and technologies,” Simon says.

The New England BioLabs project is one of many industrial and commercial applications that could be on the horizon as software and hardware continue to build stronger connections, Simon says.

“At this stage you often hear people are readily expecting 50 billion [connected] devices by the end of this decade, and I believe that number will be exceeded,” he says. “I viscerally believe that this is an opportunity that we’re unlikely to see again in our lifetime, and we are committed to really playing an important role in it.”

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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