Paddy Baker talks to Analog Way CEO Adrien Corso and Picturall co-founder Vesa Laasanen about the acquisition that has brought their two companies together
In acquiring Picturall – the announcement was made at the end of November – Analog Way has extended its range of presentation solutions with the addition of media servers. Analog Way CEO Adrien Corso (pictured left) says that he had contemplated his company developing its own media servers, but “it’s a different technology. The market is already crowded – people might have told us to get back to switchers! So instead of starting from scratch, we are capitalising on Picturall, who have more than 10 years’ experience – they’re among the veterans of the industry.”
He sees the Finnish manufacturer as “like a diamond that needs to be polished”. He explains: “They’ve been in place for a long time but weren’t on our radar screens because they don’t make a lot of noise in the market. Not many people know that they’ve been the first to create innovations five or six times.
“Theirs is the only field-proven media server platform that uses Linux – it’s rock-solid. Reliability is critical – it doesn’t matter how powerful your car engine is if you’re not sure it will start in the morning.”
The two companies initially came together “almost by chance”, according to Corso. “Vesa [Laasanen, co-founder, pictured right] was looking for partners to co-promote a solution – he wanted us to co-invest with him on one initiative. After a few minutes, I told him, ‘I want to do more than that.’”
The acquisition has progressed swiftly since the pair first met at Prolight + Sound in 2017. “When I talk to experts in mergers and acquisitions, they are surprised [at how quick this has been], as the standard time for an acquisition, particularly between companies in different countries, is between nine and 19 months. Here we’ve done it in eight – because we’ve all been dying to do it.”
In fact, the two companies started working together before the deal had been finalised. “We didn’t even wait for the lawyers to agree all the details – we gave the green light for our teams to work together. We have done a few months of core development work already.”
Vesa Laasanen believes that the two companies fit together well in a number of ways: “We want to work with people with the same kinds of values as us – and we are. Also, we are specialists in computer-based video processing, and Analog Way are specialists in hardware-based processing. So the technologies and the people fit.”
Corso adds: “This Finnish team, this French team – I see them as one team. And with the use of remote collaboration tools, they will blend more and more. We have the same values around combining work and life, but also about how to develop products.”
For Laasanen, the advantages of being part of a larger company are clear: “As a small company, we don’t have our own presence around the world, for support for example. We can leverage Analog Way’s offices – we are currently training their offices around the world in our projects. Also, being a small company, we are in one time zone; our customers in the USA and Asia have to rely on our distributors. Of course we have trained our distributors, but it’s not the same as the service we can offer through Analog Way.”
Until now, Picturall has used third parties for manufacturing. “We will progressively move product assembly to France,” states Corso. “We have knowhow in manufacturing that Picturall did not have. Later, there will be new products that will have the DNA of Analog Way; they will look more like tanks, and less like PCs – because that’s what people expect.” When will this be? “Let me be very precise – sooner than you think!” he laughs.
The Picturall brand name will continue to be used, he says, as an Analog Way family name. “It’s not easy to find good brand names – and we have one. Our commitment is to keep to the spirit of this endeavour – the Picturall adventure goes on.”
Laasanen adds: “The future will be very exciting for us. Previously, our resources limited us in R&D and in sales. The acquisition opens up exciting new possibilities that we always wanted to pursue.”