LogMeIn Makes Case for Internet of Things at Tech-Celebrity Gala

There are a lot of ballyhooed tech sectors right now, perhaps none more hyped than the “Internet of Things”—the movement to connect machines to the Internet so they can, essentially, talk to each other and to us.

That excitement was on display last week in Boston at “Xperience,” LogMeIn’s business conference that explored IoT innovation and promoted Xively (pronounced “zive-ly”), the company’s division that sells cloud software and services to manage the “connected” part of connected devices.

The gala marked LogMeIn’s (NASDAQ: LOGM) first business conference in its 12-year history, and the swanky event “is a sign of how big of an investment” it’s making in IoT, says Matt Duffy, the company’s vice president of marketing for connected products and customers.

LogMeIn initially planned on hosting around 200 attendees for the conference, held at the Seaport Boston Hotel, but ended up registering about 550 people, Duffy says.

He wouldn’t share how much LogMeIn spent on the two-day event, but it couldn’t have been cheap. Attendees were given complimentary bags for carrying laptops. Well-known tech industry luminaries Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis were among the speakers. And LogMeIn hired comedian and actor T.J. Miller, best known for playing Erlich Bachman on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” to do a half-hour standup routine during lunch on Thursday.

Miller’s brand of crude stoner humor mixed with witty social commentary was hilarious, although probably would’ve drawn more laughs if audience members had been two cocktails deep at a conference after-party—and Miller poked fun at the crowd for being so reserved. Some of his best material, at least for this group, was when he read aloud the official corporate descriptions of three companies attending the conference, which were a predictable mouthful of jargon and buzz words that cause most people’s eyes to glaze over.

In addition to the accouterments that have come to be expected from industry conferences like these, LogMeIn also made efforts to provide some steak with the sizzle, as public relations consultant Bill Baker puts it. That included a showcase of four companies that have used the Xively platform to connect their devices to the Internet.

They were SureFlap, a U.K. company that makes electronic pet doors and feeding bowls that are triggered by microchips embedded under pets’ skin or attached to a collar; Tokyo-based Sato, which uses Xively to connect its thousands of printers; Coopersburg, PA-based Lutron, whose products include light dimmers and window shades that can be controlled by mobile apps; and Braintree, MA-based Symmons Industries, which enlisted Xively to help make smart shower heads that can be monitored and controlled remotely.

Those aren’t the sexiest businesses—perhaps another sign that IoT is still searching for the product (or products) that completely change our lives, in the way that computers and smartphones did. But the mix of technologies on display last week also speak to the broad possibilities for IoT and for Xively, which could see a huge boost in business if it successfully positions itself as the backbone of companies’ connected devices.

Many businesses that are getting into IoT are “trying to do it themselves, and they’re failing,” Duffy says. “They’re realizing it’s not an easy thing,” especially for hardware companies making their first foray into software.

That’s where LogMeIn sees a bigger opportunity for Xively, which provides an online platform to help companies connect their devices to the Internet, and then helps them manage the flow of data from the machines. “It’s in our DNA to connect things,” Duffy says.

LogMeIn, best known for cloud-based software that allows employees and IT service providers to remotely access and troubleshoot computers and other devices, got into IoT in 2011 through a $15 million acquisition of U.K.-based Pachube, which provided online software for connecting sensor-enabled devices and sharing data.

LogMeIn rebranded the service as Cosm in 2012, but it remained in “beta” mode until the following year. That’s when LogMeIn changed the name to Xively and began more aggressively marketing its IoT play.

The company expanded the business last year with its $12 million acquisition of Boston-based Ionia, which helped businesses tie Internet-connected devices into their back-office sales and planning software systems.

Xively has gone through some growing pains, including the departures of three key executives last year and the closure of the London office that was once Pachube, BetaBoston reported.

But LogMeIn has also invested in Xively’s expansion. The business now makes up about 100 of its parent company’s 1,000 total employees worldwide, Duffy says.

The company doesn’t break out financial results for each of its businesses, so we don’t know what percentage of LogMeIn’s $222 million in revenue last year came from Xively. CEO Michael Simon (pictured above) told Xconomy last year that IoT could become LogMeIn’s biggest moneymaker, but it’s fair to say that Xively is not there yet.

To get there, Xively will have to … Next Page »

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Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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