STRATACACHE has acquired Montreal CMS software shop X20 Media from the Belgian visual solutions firm Barco, four years after Barco bought the company in what at least some observers (like me) thought was a head-scratcher.
CEO Chris Riegel says he believes he is picking up a diamond in the rough, and wants to grow that business by 3X to 5X this year – principally on the back of the software platform’s very strong data visualization capabilities.
The company will remain in Montreal – where there are roughly 40 employees – and continue to be marketed under the X2O brand. Riegel says he plans to add headcount is sales and marketing, areas he says were under-allocated.
Money changed hands in the transaction, though no details were announced.
It is reasonable to think Barco was looking to divest itself of X2O, given that the company is very much into project and LED display hardware and has no substantial DNA in the software side of the business.
After its acquisition in 2014, says a press release, X2O became part of Barco’s Enterprise division, which focuses on solutions for meeting and control rooms. Over the years, X2O secured top tier customers including John Deere, Verizon, FoxNews and Accenture. All customer agreements will continue to be managed by X2O to ensure world class support and service for current customers.
“The decision to divest X2O Media comes after a careful evaluation of its profitability and growth opportunities,” says Jan De Witte, Barco’s CEO. “As digital signage is no longer a strategic focus for Barco, we are convinced that selling X2O to a major player like STRATACACHE will provide the company with the focus and contacts it needs to reach the next level of global scale and success.”
Riegel tells me the platform is complementary to the mother ship Activia software platform, and to Scala and Real Digital Media – both CMS companies that have been acquired in the last couple of years. It is likely all four platforms have, at some point, been in consideration on a digital signage job.
However, Riegel says marketing it as another option in the signage CMS market doesn’t respect the real strength the X20 platform has in working with dynamic data. Riegel says he was pretty ambivalent about the opportunity for acquisition, but “did a 180” when I had a good look at it, and realized the company had been focused on the wrong market sectors.
“We’re going to fix and change things quite dramatically in the next few months,” he says.
“We will expand our portfolio with a complete solution for dynamic content display based on real-time data, plus add great new tools in the E-Learning and Broadcast Markets,” Riegel adds in the official announcement. “The X2O software platform versatility, and its capability to address any display – be it fixed or mobile – will prove to be an important asset. This complementary technology will help us to further build on our core competences in the ever-expanding digital display and data visualization marketplace.”
The Montreal location has attraction to Riegel, as well. While home base for the company is Dayton, Ohio, software development for Active is done by a team of roughly 25 people in Montreal. A combination of federal-provincial R&D grants and tax credits for new technology, and a Canadian dollar worth roughly 75% of the US dollar, works well for the bottom line.
Interesting deal for STRATACACHE. I doubt many would see the acquisition-hungry company buying another CMS, but X20 has a very strong background in broadcast graphics and data integration, doing things like live voting counts on national elections for big networks.
X2O Media was launched in 2006 when it was spun off from VertigoXmedia, a big player in broadcast graphics automation, with clients like Monday Night Football.
Dynamic data is a hugely under-appreciated aspect of digital signage networks – both front of house and back of house on places like manufacturing and logistics floors.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.