Not long ago security firm Tripwire was on the hunt for acquisitions. This week it was on the receiving end as ancient cable equipment maker Belden splashed $710 million (£500 million) in cash to buy the firm.
This kind of acquisition sounds unusual. Belden, a publically-quoted hardware maker, is effectively buying into Tripwire’s growing name for cybersecurity software, on the face of it a radically different market from the ones it has served for untold centuries.
A closer look turns up Tripwire’s ownership by investment firm Thoma Bravo and the story starts to make sense. The latter has a lengthening record of buying into and turning around floundering security vendors, most famously Blue Coat Systems, SonicWall, LANDesk and Compuware. Usually they are sorted out and eventually sold on at a big profit.
Tripwire has been in a similar position since its failed IPO of 2010, eventually reviving itself under its new owners. Belden has clearly spotted the sort of synergy that could boost it from being smply a cable maker while Thoma Bravo has just spotted a lucrative exit.
Sprinkle a little cybersecurity pixie dust on Belden and, hey presto, they could be sitting on a significant share price in a few years.
That might be unfair – the official reason is for Belden to integrate technology from the two to benefit industrial control and SCADA security with the official press release even referencing that market.
“We understand industrial manufacturers’ need robust cybersecurity tailored to their specific requirements. Together, Tripwire and Belden offer powerful solutions along with extensive experience and superior customer support,” commented Tripwire’s corporate development president, Rekha Shenoy.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that a lot of what Tripwire does is aimed at other parts of the security markets such as monitoring, cloud security, forensics, insider threat detection and good old web application security. This is a lot more than a buyout designed to bolster Belden’s position in a few vertical markets, this is a culture change.
Not long ago it was Tripwire splashing the cash, most prominently nCircle in 2013, the latter itself built form small acquisitions such as Cambia. These days, under the surface, there’s a lot going on inside Tripwire.