PhillyTechNews. Daily Page 6/17: Avalara's IPO; Rockwell Automation partners with PTC, as LiveWorx opens

ThingWorx parent PTC partners with Rockwell Automation ($ attached); Bulotta back in corporate fold at Microsoft

Tom Paine

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After seemingly getting close to GE, which is obviously dealing with its own share of problems lately, over the past few years, ThingWorx parent PTC found a new strategic partner last week; Rockwell Automation , which invested $1 billion in PTC for less than 1/10th ownership. And starting Monday, PTC will hold its annual IoT-oriented LiveWorx conference in Boston that is expected to attract about 6,000 attendees.

The focus of Rockwell's interest is ThingWorx, founded in Exton (well, originally Downingtown) and acquired by PTC in 2013, and a small group of other IoT enablers surrounding it that were also acquired by PTC. Unlike many strategic partnerships, this one will involve an actual blending of products, merging the ThingWorx IoT platform, Kepware industrial connectivity and Vuforia augmented reality platforms with Rockwell's FactoryTalk MES, FactoryTalk analytics and industrial automation platforms.

Where this will leave ThingWorx as a brand name and organization is hard to say; its center of gravity has been gradually moving north for some time, and now only 40 ThingWorx employees are still in Pennsylvania per LinkedIn.

PTC was a shrinking CAD/CAM software firm ( originally Parametric Technologies ) left over from the 1980s when it bought ThingWorx at the end of 2013 for $100 million plus. PTC's share price has more than doubled since then, perhaps more of a result of PTC's growing mindshare of industrial IoT rather than actual results. PTC is moving its headquarters from suburban Needham to Boston.

The Boston Globe has a piece on PTC's rebirth ( "How Boston software maker PTC came back from the brink") .

In related news, ThingWorx cofounder Rick Bulotta, who has been mostly freelancing since leaving PTC, has shown up in a new uniform: Microsoft's (H/T Philly). Microsoft has partnered with PTC in a number of IoT initiatives.

Its a small world.