After starting in 1997, Futurmark is one of the grey beards in the Helsinki tech. With roots in Helsinki’s storied demo scene, the company launched with a leading PC graphics benchmarking software which it expanded into different niches. After riding that wave for about ten years, the company then explored their own gaming path with Futuremark Studio, which it later spun off their mobile and embedded unit to form new company Rightware (which now makes graphic displays for the auto industry). Futuremark Studios, was then acquired by Rovio in 2012, and focused its efforts on benchmarking for PC and later for Android with 3Dmark, launched in 2013.
While still the gold standard for benchmarking – receiving a new benchmark result every four seconds on average -the company has hit a new chapter as last night it announced it has been acquired by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a 120 year-old Illinois-based safety science company that has played a role in the public adoption of electricity and the drafting of safety standards for electrical devices and components, according to Wikipedia. Today they still provide certification, testing, inspection, advisory and education services to guide professionals and regulators.
Given Futuremark’s dip into gaming it’s not the first acquirer that I would assume for the company, but this acquisition looks like it’s helping UL stay with the times as it researches and promotes standards for safety and industry needs. It’s a long, but perhaps reasonable evolution from UL’s first safety standard, “Tin Clad Fire Doors,” in 1903, the labeling of fire extinguishers, or more recently the labeling of smart lightbulbs and other technology.
“This acquisition provides us with an opportunity to build a new business line in testing a wide variety of technological devices so they offer the performance, safety and privacy that consumers expect,” says Stephen Kirk, VP and GM of UL Consumer Technology Division.
Futuremark’s 39 employees, including CEO Jukka Mäkinen, will join UL and remain with the company.
“In recent years, we’ve expanded on to new platforms, our software has been adopted by the European Commission and national governments, and we’ve welcomed more of the world’s leading technology companies into our Benchmark Development Program,” says Mäkinen in a statement. “We’ve accomplished a lot on our own, but with UL, we’re in an even better position to achieve our goals.”