Scala are all set later today to announce an acquisition. There is a company wide call this afternoon – which could be simply to tell all the employees about how good March 2010 was for them (which it was we believe) but is most likely to be news of said acquisition.
It will be interesting to see who and what sort (of acquisition) it is but here are our thoughts…
- A SaaS provider? This would probably be an admission that either their brand doesn’t resonate in that sector or their app hasn’t translated well to that model. With the focus the company, especially Europe has at the moment on Scala QuickStart we doubt that this is the case. Buying a SaaS provider could of course be a customer grab.
- An interactive provider? This would be more like it and a nice extension to what they offer now. It’s an incredibly interesting space for us as we have one project on the go internally looking at the interactive / touch gesture space for investment. There’s also a lot of scope in this space to acquire specialists in interactive content tools.
- Analytics? Apart from DS-IQ (and it’s not them btw) we are not sure who is a candidate – it would make no sense to try and buy any of the automated audience measurement folks when (as proven by STRATACACHE and 121View) it is relatively easy with the right chipset to build your own algorithms into your own software.
- Mobile? Again an incredibly interesting space and lots of scope for clever vendors to lay down a marker here but we don’t see Scala going there just yet
- Someone else in our DSTop10? Whilst we do expect consolidation of our Top 10 Digital Signage vendors, Scala are an unlikely candidate to kickstart that process. EnQii should merge with BroadSign, Jason should sell signagelive and go live on a caribbean island, C-nario may not be a going concern for much longer – they certainly don’t seem serious about this space anymore and have no real big deployments anymore AND Dynamax simply need to be bought (that’s a good customer grab if anyone is listening and wants the OOH sector as customers) but hey that’s another story (and another post so watch this space!)
- Not an Acquisition but an IPO? There’s one more possibility; that it is not an acquisition but an announcement that Scala would go public. We don’t think this is likely at this time but going public – probably on the Oslo Stock Exchange in Norway is a remote possibility. Scala originated in Norway in the late 80’s and went through a series of investment rounds much of which was actually preparing for a Nasdaq IPO in 1995/96 (a poor launch of early products blew that plan). Meager years followed and Scala nearly went under completely in 2001 until a new Norwegian investor (having made their fortunes in the oil and shipping business) and a re-focus on digital signage brought them back to life. Back in 2007 there were rumours and even artcles in the Norwegian business press about one of the investors pushing for an IPO. We still think it is too early for them but you never know?
And for those of you who simply think that all us industry analysts and commentators make all this up as we go along, take a look at Gill Berba’s excellent article over on his WireSpring blog ‘M&A List: Digital Signage Mergers, Acquisitions and Bankruptcies‘ which was published last night!!