The assets of Internet performance testing company Porivo Technologies have been sold at a cut-rate price to one of the firm’s former customers.

Waltham, Mass.-based Gomez, which also runs web performance tests recently acquired Porivo for an undisclosed sum. But Gomez spokesman Alan Alper, when asked whether the deal was a case of his company looking for expansion possibilities or Porivo looking for an out in a tough economy, tells LocalTechWire, “It was really both. … We got a good deal.”

Gomez acquired the technology assets of Porivo and hired two of the latter company’s employees, Alper says. “We didn’t want an office there (in Durham). We felt everything would work better consolidated up here,” he says.

Porivo was founded in early 2000 by two interns at the Aurora Funds venture capital firm, Sam Kirby and Will Holmes, and a third partner, John Hartingh. Aurora provided seed capital for the company and initially allowed operations to be run out of its Durham office.

Scott Albert of Aurora, who was a member of Porivo’s board of directors, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment about the sale.

The initial idea behind the company involved “distributed computing,” or harnessing the computer processing power of desktop PCs while they are idle. Instead of running a screen saver, computers that are linked to a corporate network or the Internet would donate their processing power to handle the mountains of data collected by a computer system or through online transactions.

But Porivo later morphed into a performance measurement company, using distributed computing to build a global network of some 10,000 PCs to evaluate the speed of websites and other aspects of web performance from various types of Internet connections, Internet backbones and ISPs. The service provided customers with some perspective of the quality of the online experience of end-users and helped detect problems before they seriously affected online business transactions.

The company attracted $2.2 million in venture capital during its life – much of it from Aurora – and during its height opened an office in Silicon Valley and hired a former executive of NBC’s Internet division as chief executive. Its customer list included the likes of Microsoft, WorldCom, Global Knowledge and North Carolina State University.

Gomez also signed up as a Porivo customer. The company measures performance from an ISP to a website and used Porivo’s service to measure from a site to the desktops of users, Alper says. The firm welcomed the opportunity to bring that technology in house when Porivo’s assets became available.

“We saw a lot of possibilities in peer networking,” he says. “This definitely helps us extend our web monitoring and gives us visibility on the desktop.”