Hexagon adds Thermopylae to its geospatial biz

Feb 25, 2019 | Hot Topics

Another week, another acquisition:

Hexagon says it will buy Thermopylae Sciences and Technology, a software provider of geospatial applications, mobile frameworks and cloud computing for enhanced location intelligence, primarily to the US government and other defense market.

Thermopylae’s solutions are built upon the Google technology stack and are used for advanced mapping visualizations used in mission support. You may recall that Intergraph, bought by Hexagon a decade ago, had a geospatial business that sold a lot of stuff to governments around the world. With changes in spending priorities, difficulties passing funding bills and other challenges, that division (now Hexagon Geospatial) has been struggling — and perhaps this app-type concept will help reverse that.

But I think this is the real reason Hexagon acquired Theropylae: Hexagon’s release says that its solutions are are “also applicable to a host of markets in the private sector including real estate, finance, insurance, retail and media – with customers ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies”. And that gets into some of the super-hot areas of technology right now — how can a maintenance worker in an office complex know exactly which section of pipe to investigate without detailed geographic info on the location of the fault? Where was the driver, in an accident reconstruction?

Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén said of the deal, “Ultimately, the addition of Thermopylae will enrich the 5D experience delivered through our Hexagon Smart M.App and Luciad portfolios – both of which enable smart digital realities with 3D, 4D (real-time sensor feed integration) and 5D (dynamic analytics) capabilities. Not only does the acquisition provide an avenue for international market adoption of Thermopylae’s technologies but also an additional avenue for Hexagon to accelerate adoption of our 5D visualisation capabilities in U.S. government agencies.”

[Mr. Rollén definition of 4D and 5D aren’t traditional in the AEC sense, where 4D is time and 5D is cost; but they are often used in the sensor world. Confusing, no?]

Hexagon says that Thermopylae had revenue of $20 million in 2017 and will operate as a part of Hexagon’s Geospatial division.

Interestingly, the company also said that it will submit a voluntary filing to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for approval of the deal. I wrote about CFIUS here; it’s a US federal, interagency group that reviews foreign investments in US businesses to determine whether those transactions could harm US national security. You may recall the whole Broadcomm / Qualcom kerfuffle last year — the main objective seems to be to keep US technology and innovation out of Chinese control. I don’t know what a CFIUS review adds to the deal timetable, or what kind of objections or changes in deal structure it might require. Hexagon didn’t include the usual deal closing timetable in its announcement, so it would appear that it’s not sure, either.