ComQi Acquires JohnRyan; Firms Will Operate Separately, Chasing Different Verticals

A couple of long-running digital signage CMS companies have linked up, with NYC-based ComQi acquiring Minneapolis-based JohnRyan.

The deal, which is formalized today but comes with no details on $$ or terms, sees both companies operating as their own entities and brands, but with some cross-pollination expected on things like sales and R&D.

ComQi, which is owned by the massive Taiwan display manufacturer AUO, will stay focused on mainstream retail, while JohnRyan will continue to focus primarily on the financial services/retail banking sector that it has been servicing for some 35 years.

Both companies will operate under the AUO umbrella. 

Says PR:

“Our acquisition of ComQi two years ago, and now with ComQi’s acquisition of JohnRyan, shows AUO’s commitment to providing a total end-to-end solution in the ‘field economy’ that can serve all aspects of retail and beyond,” says Paul SL Peng, Chairman and CEO of AUO. “We understand that a complete solution benefits from deep domain knowledge of the sector, along with a rich and thorough hardware, software and services offering. Together, our group has the right combination of people, insights, technology and services to deliver the best of class digital signage solution for smart retailing.”

“We continue to look for M&A opportunities that will bring ever broader products and services to our clients,” adds Andy Yang, Vice President of Strategic Investment and New Business Operations of AUO.

Stu Armstrong, Group President of ComQi, will lead sales for both companies.  “Driving real business value to our customers, as they look to enhance the consumer experience in their stores, is the reason ComQi is resonating with retailers,” says Armstrong. “JohnRyan has been bringing that same high-value to the financial services industry for years, so our collective story is now even more compelling.”

JohnRyan has been doing banks forever, and the notable difference is how the firm has always approached that vertical more like a full-services agency that also has a bank-centric, secure CMS – as opposed to tech companies who go in selling a tech-driven solution that may or may not be set-up with the needs and peculiarities of banks in mind.

“Working side by side with our founder John Ryan for more than 30 years, we’ve realized the vision of creating a powerhouse agency that delivers full end-to-end solutions to the global financial services industry,” says Nancy Radermecher, President of JohnRyan. “Joining ComQi and AUO allows our company to take that vision to an even higher level. Just as Stu is seeing and hearing in mainstream retail, banks and related businesses are also looking for guidance and technology solutions that will re-energize their spaces and help them stay relevant.”

“We see very little overlap between the two operating companies,” says Ifti Ifhar, ComQi’s CEO. “We’ll see cross-pollination of ideas, shared domain intelligence, and access to intellectual property that can only benefit our collective customers. Without a doubt, this acquisition extends our reach and capabilities across the wide breadth of retail, and it also gives us, through JohnRyan, a stronger presence in Europe.”

I know both of these companies pretty well, and can see the argument that while they both “do” digital signage, it’s unlikely they’ll end up competing on jobs. What is done in a fast fashion retail environment, or c-store, is quite a bit different from what plays out in retail banking.

The arrangement also means ComQi has more access into the European market, where JohnRyan has some well-established customers and technical partners. For JohnRyan, it means much deeper pockets via AUO (that influence is obvious with more visible ComQi’s marketing efforts and footprint at trade shows).

For AUO, it means the opportunity to sell panels and services into retail banking, which can have a lot of locations per account and is less likely than mainstream retail to be shifting from many LCDs to one big LED in branches – something that’s happening more and more in retail.

The deal was done a few weeks ago and, I am told, is old news around the two software companies.