New Tripwire owner lays off dozens, 3 months after buying Portland tech company

Dozens of Tripwire employees lost their jobs Wednesday, three months after the Portland company was sold to a Minnesota firm.

It’s unclear exactly how many lost their jobs at the online security company, but the recently laid off Tripwire employees counted at least a few dozen of their colleagues among those who lost their jobs in Wednesday’s budget cuts, including a handful senior managers and executives. Some have said that the number of job losses is considerably higher.

HelpSystems, the new owner, acknowledged the layoffs but did not say how many people had lost their jobs or how many remained from the Tripwire acquisition. He said he has no plans to close Tripwire’s former headquarters in Portland, but added that most employees prefer to work remotely.

“We remain impressed with the strength of the company’s core offerings,” HelpSystems said in a statement. “We are confident that we have the right organization in place at Tripwire to rebuild the organization for growth.”

Founded in 1997, Tripwire was among Portland’s most promising tech companies in the years after the dot-com collapse.

However, growth slowed during the Great Recession and Tripwire abandoned plans for an IPO. Instead, Tripwire sold to a private equity firm in 2011, which then sold the Portland company three years later to a St. Louis company called Belden Inc.

HelpSystems paid $350 million for Tripwire in February, about half of what the company sold in 2014. Tripwire earned $107 million in revenue in 2021, according to Belden.

The Portland company had 450 employees when it was sold in 2014, including 250 in Oregon. It’s unclear how many Tripwire employed prior to this week’s layoffs.

In a memo to employees Wednesday, new owner HelpSystems said it had completed a 75-day review of Tripwire’s operation and decided to make several changes.

“We now understand where our teams need to be adjusted. After considering all possible options, we have concluded that certain roles in the United States and Canada will be affected and in other countries layoffs may exist,” the company wrote on Wednesday. “We will be reaching out to everyone at Tripwire today to schedule calls and share more details.”

The newly laid off employees described their severance package as reasonable, but not generous, and said they were heartbroken to lose their connection to their colleagues and their work.

Amid the tightest job market in generations, however, some said they had already been contacted by potential employers. On LinkedIn, employees and managers of other companies offered job offers directly to some of those who had announced their layoffs.

Tripwire History

1997: Gene Kim and Wyatt Starnes found Visual Computing Corp. ; early products include network security software called Tripwire and a video game called Piggyland; Kim developed Tripwire while a student at Purdue University

1998: Company renamed Tripwire, launches first product, raises $2.4 million in first outside funding (video game company split into separate company)

2000: Tripwire raises $9 million in venture capital

2001: Tripwire raises an additional $24 million in venture capital (total $37.4 million)

2002: Investors invest another $9.3 million in Tripwire

2004: Fight against cancer, Starnes steps down as CEO; Jim Johnson, retired Intel executive, named interim CEO

2006: Johnson drops the “acting” label

2009: Johnson says he plans a 2010 IPO to repay early Tripwire investors

2010: Tripwire files for IPO

2011: Tripwire sold to Thoma Bravo

2014: Tripwire sells to Belden for $710 million.

2022: Belden sells Tripwire to HelpSystems for $350 million

–Mike Rogoway | [email protected] | 503-294-7699| Twitter: @rogoway |

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