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Pumatech gobbles up Motorola unit

Software maker Pumatech acquires Motorola subsidiary Starfish in a deal that "rounds out" its list of customers and patents for synchronization products.

Device software maker Pumatech has acquired Motorola subsidiary Starfish in a deal that helps round out its patent and customer portfolio for synchronization products.

San Jose, Calif.-based Pumatech said that the acquisition closed Thursday and that the two groups have already begun working together. Starfish will remain a separate subsidiary, which is how it operated at Motorola. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal.

Pumatech's IntelliSync software allows portable devices--mainly handhelds--to synchronize contact lists, e-mail messages and other information with PCs and servers. Starfish's TrueSync software performs similar functions between cell phones and servers. Both products target corporate customers. Combined, the two companies hold 50 patents, according to Clyde Foster, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Pumatech.

More than 150 companies license Pumatech software, including Microsoft, Siebel Systems, Oracle, America Online, Yahoo, NTT DoCoMo, Eastman Kodak and General Motors. However, Pumatech gained some important customers through the Starfish acquisition, including IBM.

Pumatech was "missing a few key customers," Foster said. "This deal rounds out our list of customers and patents."

Pumatech will continue to sell Pumatech and Starfish products separately, but in the long term, the technologies will work together.

Starfish is a co-founder of the SyncML Initiative, which is an organization that is helping to develop synchronization standards. Starfish was among the first to certify and begin selling servers using the SyncML standard.