Futuremark acquired by Underwriters Laboratories

November 4, 2014 // 11:20 a.m.

Tags: #3dmark #benchmark #finland #future-crew #futuremark #jukka-makinen #mad-onion #madonioncom #pcmark #stephen-kirk #ul #underwriters-laboratories

Benchmarking giant Futuremark, formerly known as Mad Onion, has been snapped up by safety testing organisation Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for an undisclosed sum.

Best known for its 3DMark suite of gaming-oriented benchmarks, Futuremark was founded in 1997 in Epsoo, Finland by the Future Crew group of demoscene hackers. The team worked on developing intensive benchmarks with impressive visuals under the trading name MadOnion.com until rebranding to Futuremark Corporation in 2002. A brief foray into games development in 2008, resulting in the release of zero-gravity first-person shooter Shattered Horizon in 2009, was largely unsuccessful, and the company would sell its fledgling game development arm to Rovio in 2012 to better focus on benchmaking software.

UL, on the other hand, has a somewhat longer history. Founded in 1894 by William Henry Merrill, the US-based organisation now has offices in 46 countries and works to analyse the safety of technological products and their component parts. The company is one of a handful chosen by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as Nationally Recognised Testing Laboratories, and serves customers in over 104 countries with 12,000 staff total.

Software development of gaming-oriented benchmarks, then, is something of a new venture for the company. 'Embedded software is now an important part of product design. With an increased focus on mobility, we see more and more products being connected, making the Internet of Things a reality. Consequently, software quality is a significant driver of product safety and performance; and we believe that benchmarking is an important way to help our customers to improve the performance of their products,' claimed Stephen Kirk, general manager of UL's consumer technology division, of the deal. '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.'

UL has indicated that it plans to fund further development of Futuremark products, likely to include more professionally-oriented packages along the lines of its PCMark suite. '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,' boasted Jukka Mäkinen, Futuremark's chief executive. 'We’ve accomplished a lot on our own, but with UL, we’re in an even better position to achieve our goals.'

The deal is not expected to have any immediate effect on the pricing or availability of Futuremark's existing benchmark products.
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