We pondered in the office yesterday whether we would do what turns out to be (this) yet-another-Saturday-DN (email) and were in two minds but the two Minkus stories (the first that came to us and the second that we chased ourselves late on Friday (thanks Gail and thanks David Gothard), compelled us to rush out an extra email. Umm?, what was once going to be the domain of a yet-to-be-launched premium service for DailyDOOH subscribers (a weekend email) becomes yet another public service broadcast 😉
Anyway, a week today I will either be in the Virgin Lounge at LHR Terminal 3, winging my way to JFK or indeed in the fair city of New York itself in preparation for what looks like it’s going to be a very well attended Digital Signage Investor Conference (5th – 6th October).
#DSInvestor itself probably couldn’t be coming along at a better time. The Strategy Institute would no doubt like to claim great planning – in our mind it’s more likely great Karma cos’ this has been one of the best events in the industry calendar for a few years now but there’s little one can do with the events that surround and precede it (or can you?).
I believe that all of the speakers and the majority of the audience are going to be incredibly upbeat about the industry. Not because the speakers have to be and not out of necessity either (public speaking, PR and all that ‘front’) but because they are!
Let’s look at just some of the positives: –
- There are strong rumours that RMG has just raised as much as USD 150M (or perhaps at the very least now has access to it) Garry Maguire’s presentation that opens #DSInvestor on 5th October was always going to be interesting but now could be unmissable – especially of course if some announcements or hints are forthcoming. Okay, so some wag told us that with $150M you could probably buy the whole digital signage industry but that’s not the point. Here’s a company (RMG) that we fully expect will do an IPO in the next 18 months.
- PRN are definitely in serious due-diligence mode with someone. We are still trying to figure out if it’s RMG and if so (and if RMG were willing to spend a chunk of that USD 150M on them) how the acquirer could make an acquisition actually work – everything we hear from Walmart (PRN’s main source of revenue whatever they might say officially) is that they (Walmart) are both testing and looking at different vendors. Why Walmart would look around with a couple of years still left on the contract is anyone’s guess. Bottom line PRN are profitable as long as they have Walmart but with every month that passes the value of PRN goes down. They may well be sold but it will be well below USD 100M but possibly and substantially above USD 10M
- Half of our top ten software vendors #DSTop10 are either actively investing, acquiring or raising additional funds.
- Scala of course acquired SignChannel back in April and this we believe will soon bear fruit (so expect some announcements around this soon).
- STRATACACHE has invested several million (by our reckoning) in enVu, a new US based Mall network and continues to invest big in new facilities in its hometown Dayton, Ohio.
- Elsewhere one #DSTop10 has recently raised USD 5M specifically for M&A and another has appointed a pretty high profile New York bank (we think the bank will be in attendance at the event) specifically to look for acquisition opportunities.
- The asking price for good companies is high. Symon Communications is reputedly on the market for USD 80 million. Folks (including us sometimes) might sneer at the price but Golden Gate Capital could well make a nice profit on the sale of this business and that after all is what all private equity firms are after.
- Even Eric Theodore Minkus can’t faze us and could even be viewed positively as we see folks like the DSA attempt to galavanise the industry and react to a common threat.
- Even some software salesmen seem to be having a good time, one told us “”I’m having conversations with companies that I never thought I would. In some case competitors with great presence in a particular sector, built their own software but are now seen more as a service provider and don’t want to keep developing … it’s not necessarily because the sector is booming, it’s often because it is so tough out there that they need to really focus and cut costs where they can”
The Strategy Institute, Stuart Armstrong (co-chairman of the event) and myself look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in New York City on October 5th and 6th for what seriously looks like it could be one amazing event.