Objective Logistics, a Boston-based startup that sold sales and scheduling software to restaurants, is shutting down after an acquisition that sent its eight-person engineering team to digital security company Bit9. Neither company would discuss the terms of the deal, which quietly closed in mid-May.
Objective Logistics developed software called Muse, which analyzed sales data to create leaderboards of a restaurant’s top-performing servers and menu items. By drawing insights from the cash register, Muse could allow managers to give plum shifts to their best-performing waitstaff and find combinations that would boost ticket totals — suggesting a particular salad with that pizza, for instance.
The company had paying customers and was growing, co-founder and CEO Phil Beauregard said, but found it too difficult to sell a new category of software to small businesses that were mostly focused on buying the basics, such as order-placing or general business software.
“I think we just kind of ended up misjudging the restaurant market’s appetite for software,” Beauregard said. “HR and operations software is something that you have to build and you have to build it big, and it demands a lot of resources. And I think that, at the end of the day, maybe we didn’t run fast enough.” The deal was first reported by Fortune’s Dan Primack.
A team of restaurant-scheduling software coders might seem like an odd fit for Bit9, which produces cybersecurity software. Company spokesman Kevin Flanagan said the key is that Objective Logistics’ team was a unit that had shown it could develop cloud-based software, which is key for Bit9.
“The ability to bring on an entire team that not only had the domain expertise that we would be looking for from individuals we might recruit, but also came as well-oiled machine, was very advantageous for us,” Flanagan said.
The former Objective Logistics employees also will form the core of a new Boston-Cambridge branch office for Bit9, which is based in Waltham. Like many established companies, Bit9 faces both a competitive recruiting race for talented engineers and a younger workforce that prefers living closer to the city.
Objective Logistics had raised about $9 million in venture capital and debt since its founding in 2009, from investors including Google Ventures, Atlas Venture, and NextView Ventures. It shared Atlas as a common investor with Bit9, which has raised about $120 million in private investment over its life.
Beauregard said one key moment in deciding to liquidate the company came after a potential acquisition deal fell through, leaving the company to decide whether it could reload with a large round of venture investment to supercharge growth.
“This is going to take another $30 million to build a public company,” Beauregard recalled thinking. “And I just don’t think we had the ability to do that over the next six years. At that point, you have to take a look at yourself in the mirror, and your board, and make a bet.”
Beauregard, who with co-founder Matt Grace also sold a professional networking startup called ReKindle to HubSpot earlier this year, joked that the next item on his agenda would be “a brief sticking-my-head-in-the-ocean type summer.”
“We had a really, really good squad. It’s bittersweet to be parting with them,” he said. “But within the same breath, it’s really something that helps you sleep at night.”