A clear return and ‘cloudy’ outlook for Tripwire’s only deal

Contact: Brenon Daly

Exactly a year ago, Tripwire made its first and only acquisition in its 14-year history, picking up the assets of Activeworx. The tiny startup added log management technology to Tripwire, an IT configuration and compliance vendor. The deal itself, which only set Tripwire back about $3m, was a fittingly quiet purchase of a company that had lived a pretty quiet life. On Thursday, Tripwire took that technology to the cloud.

Although Tripwire actually closed its pickup of Activeworx last August, it only began talking about its log management offering, which is based on the acquisition, earlier this year. It also only began selling its log management offering earlier this year. As it was rolling out the offering, we noted that the log management market looked awfully crowded. But so far, Tripwire appears to be getting a solid return on its Activeworx buy. From a standing start, Tripwire’s Log Center business has generated about $2m of license sales in the first two quarters of 2010. (And to be clear, that’s GAAP revenue, as listed in the company’s latest amendment to its S-1 filed with the SEC, not some loosey-goosey figure that has been rounded way up.)

Granted, the Log Center contribution is still a small slice of the $18m in total licenses it has sold over the same period, and an even smaller portion of the $40m it tallied as total first-half 2010 revenue. But for a new product introduction, that’s a strong start out of the gate. And today, Tripwire announced a partnership with Terremark through which the datacenter provider will now be offering Log Center to its clients. The on-demand compliance and security arrangement between the two companies marks the first cloud offering from Tripwire.

Having its inaugural acquisition already producing revenue at a strong clip, we suspect that Tripwire will look to return to the market. The only question in our mind is what corporate structure Tripwire will have when it goes shopping again. Will it remain a privately held company, or will it see through its IPO filing and join the ranks of the Nasdaq-listed companies? Or will it – as we have speculated in the past – get snapped up by a larger vendor? From what we’re hearing now, however, a Tripwire trade sale is looking less likely than earlier in the summer. From our perspective, two of the companies that would head any list of likely buyers for Tripwire (McAfee and Hewlett-Packard) have their own M&A events to sort through right now.