EnQii and Minicom merge; now doing "multichannel message management"

May 17, 2011 by Dave Haynes

When Minicom started making noises about a big announcement this week, my assumption was that it was probably big from their own perspective, and figured it was more detail on how their management tools integrate with Scala.

Well, I was just a wee bit wrong.

The Inbox this morning had news of the Israeli firm Minicom merging with UK-based EnQii, creating the highly memorable handle of EnQii-MDS.

The release is full of power words like global, seamless, leadership, powerhouse and simplicity, and introduces a phrase I don’t recall seeing used in the context of this sector: multichannel message management.

EnQii is known as a SaaS digital signage platform, working mostly with retail and Digital OOH networks. Minicom is primarily known for gear that allows a PC to drive and manage a display thousands of feet away, using transmitters and receivers and network cable.

EnQii-MDS will provide marketers with an end-to-end solution encompassing distribution, content management and proof-of-performance – while reducing capital and operational costs. This platform will ensure the delivery of consumer messaging that has recency, relevancy and accountability and which will deliver a strong return on investment to customers at the lowest total cost of ownership. These solutions are designed to be future-proofed, utilizing a cloud-based platform that offers the flexibility to accommodate both small and large installs.

The company will be based in New York City, and operate from six offices around the world. The Minicom side of this equation introduces a worldwide network of 150 distributors, who in turn have thousands of resellers and system integrators.

Ajay Chowdhury stays on as CEO of the new venture and Minicom CEO Ronni Guggenheim will be president. I’m not sure in that pairing who the boss really is, but the chairman of the new board – usually an indicator – is Shlomo Nimrodi (who has one hell of a name and I assume is from the Minicom side of the aisle in this marriage).

Stuart Armstrong and Amir Shaked will lead the US business and Max Stevens-Guille will lead the Canadian business. In Israel, Ofer Dar will act as the Group’s CFO, Moti Guberman will be in charge of operations, and Mordehay Hilu will drive the R&D.

Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) led a growth capital financing round together with other existing shareholders – Wellington Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners and Aviv Ventures – to complete the merger. New financing will go towards expanding the current solutions portfolio as well as to grant necessary resources for additional acquisitions.

Gadi Tirosh, General Partner at JVP and Chairman of the now old MDS, says: “When we invested in MDS over a year ago, we clearly identified the potential of leveraging MDS’ unique market position and channels as a platform for further growth — organically and through M&A. This merger is the realization of this strategy creating the most prominent, fastest growing market leader.”

It was reasonably clear EnQii was going to either acquire or merge with another company and I know some interesting chats have taken place, but I would not have put these two together in my head. Minicom has been very active in this industry for years, and are a lot like the display mount guys, in that they are very supportive of the shows and the sector as a whole, and have real marketing budgets, but don’t get the buzz of the software guys.

There will be some big-time cultural adjustments between the companies. Minicom is very much an Israeli engineering company while EnQii has the vast majority of people in Manhattan and about five minutes from my home office in Burlington, Ontario.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and how the companies blend. I’m not sure there are software companies who see tighter integration with the distribution gear people as the missing key to success, but I’d rather see complementary skills put together than two rival software development teams. EnQii certainly gains on the marketing side, and on hardware knowledge.

Small side note: I wonder what this means to Minicom’s work with Scala and other software companies. Certainly, the press volume on those ties will go down. And I also wonder if this will change how some software rivals spec that signal distribution gear.


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