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GE coverage round-up

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Friday, August 28, 2009
Since this is looking like the biggest story - pageview-wise - of the past two years, I thought I'd add a little color by rounding up what other people have to say about it. Here's the Deal's take on things. Of course, I like it because they link back to Martha's interview with Dean Seavers, but I also think Kenneth Klee makes an interesting analogy with HD Supply:
A possibly parallel situation comes to mind in the attempt a fews ago of Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD), then being run by GE vet Bob Nardelli, to acquire its way into the contractor-supply business. HD Supply, of course, ended up being sold to a consortium of PE firms in 2007. It would be unwise to push the analogy too far. And GE and many others have, of course, used these tactics successfully in other areas. But both episodes underline the fact that whether it's economic conditions, the dynamics of the market being targeted, or internal hurdles to execution, there's a lot that can happen to trip up such efforts.
Exactly. It's one thing to consolidate for a big share of a part of the market, but to consolidate such disparate pieces as residential alarm, video, and fire was a tall order from the outset. Also, the Financial Times has independently confirmed that JP Morgan is helping conduct the sale. Here's what they have to say. Not much new here, except now Bosch is being thrown in the mix as a potential suitor:
People close to the sale process, which is being managed by JPMorgan, said the business had drawn interest from GE's rivals in the security sector such as United Technologies, Tyco and Germany's Robert Bosch.
I still don't think this makes sense. Why would these companies want what GE has? For the most part, they've already got competing brands and products. Sure, it consolidates the market, but is there value in simply putting your competitors out of business? You still need to see actual value, right? I'm surprised more people aren't talking about a venture firm like Blackstone being in the mix. They bought AlliedBarton - maybe they'd like to consolidate guarding and electronic security, right? Then spin that whole thing off in an IPO? They've got Dean Seavers on record saying he's going to grow sales to $3 billion by 2011. Why wouldn't an outside investor want to buy the property for $2 billion, then take it public for $3 billion? Well, here's FT's thoughts on that theory of mine:
Security assets have historically lured private equity buyers as well, but a combination of the difficult financing environment and an expressed interest by GE in selling the assets to a strategic buyer could hamper any buy-out effort.
There's also this little nugget I didn't know about:
GE suffered a setback this month when it agreed to a $50m settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges of accounting fraud in 2002 and 2003. GE did not admit nor deny the allegations, which prompted a four-year probe of accounting issues.
That's small change for GE, but the auditing and four-year probe sound nasty. The New York Times Deal Book blog doesn't really have anything new, other than to brag that it, too, confirmed the Bloomberg story. Good for them. Cyrus Sanati repeats the same claims that UTC and Tyco are potential suitors. He also throws this out:
Questions about what would happen to the rest of the security unit have lingered since the Homeland Protection deal was announced in April.
Is that really true? I haven't heard much about that, actually. In fact, notable about all the coverage is the incredibly tight lips at GE. Sure, they issued everyone a no comment, but doesn't one of these awesome blogger guys who cover the street have an inside source at GE who'll drop some unsourced quotes? Disappointing. I will note, selfishly, that my story on the GE sale is the only one to actually interview anyone with a name attached and at least give some background on why the GE Security unit maybe isn't performing all that well. It was pretty hard, though. I had to actually call people on the phone and take notes. I'm still sweating a little bit.

If it were a sandwich, it would be a meaty, stick-to-your-ribs security filling between two slices of hearty six-and-half-hours-in-a-car-with-my-publisher

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Friday, August 28, 2009
It's the last weekend of August. It was 52 degrees on the shores of Sebago Lake (where I live in Raymond, Maine) when I got up this morning at 6:30. For the first time since they bloomed earlier this season, my morning glories hadn't yet opened. That means it's getting colder. That means summer (such as it was) is pretty much over. That also means it's time for me to pack my bags and head off to Verona, N.Y. for Rapid Response's Users Group. SSN's publisher Tim Purpura and I will hit the road together and partake of the Users Group, which Rapid promises "to be a 'don't miss' event for Rapid Response Dealers, with workshops, seminars, feedback forums, and top companies from all areas of the Security Industry." I look forward to meeting industry folks in attendance and touring the RR facility. I'm also looking forward to hopefully touring Rapid's EMT-staffed Life Safety Monitoring facility, which handles PERS monitoring for Medical Alarm Concepts. There is even going to be a talk by special keynote speaker, Space Shuttle pilot Colonel Richard Searfoss, which I'm looking forward to (I'm a science/space/sci-fi geek), and, though I don't golf, myself, there's even a golf tournament to cap things off. Overall, it promises to be a productive few days sandwiched between lots of windshield time, during which I'm sure Tim and I will argue over whose iPod takes precedence...

Behind the GE Security comments

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Thursday, August 27, 2009
You'll see in my story about the potential GE Security sale that at least one dealer hasn't been happy with the corporate support. Mostly, I think this comes from a difficult integration among all of the GE acquisitions. This is somewhat reflected in the reviews of the company at Glassdoor, which is where potential employees can check out what current and past employees think of the company. They don't necessarily slander the company six ways from Sunday, but there are a lot of comments like this:
GE Security shows an amazing amount of promise. It has strong acquisitions in video (VisioWave), access (Casi-Rusco), and fire (Edwards), and is finally making great strides to incorporate them all into an integrated security platform. If realized correctly, this surely will be a big player in the security industry.
I mean, these are companies that have been bought as many as five years ago. At this point, the integration should be more complete, probably. And that's what leads to comments like this:
The company continues to struggle for a coherent market identity due to it's legacy of acquisitions; after 5 years of integration attempts only recently have the silos started to melt and "GE" penetration taken effect. There is constant leadership turnover as the heritage managers start to fade and the GE-fed talent moves across the corporate umbrella.
So, it's not hard to see why a dealer like Alarm King might be a little frustrated at the lack of progress.

GE Security: For sale

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
All of you who've got $2 billion in the checking account, start lining up: GE Security is apparently for sale. Quoting from the Bloomberg article:
GE hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to find a buyer for most of GE Security, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential. Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE asked potential buyers to submit preliminary bids about a month ago, the people said.
Well, first, shouldn't someone have ratted this out to me a while ago? Bids were asked for a month ago? I've got to get out to a show and do some gossiping. Summer's no good for gossip.
Possible acquirers include Tyco International Ltd. and United Technologies Corp., which also sell security equipment, the people said. GE may sell the unit in parts if it can’t find a buyer for the whole business, one of the people said.
I personally don't think Tyco or UTC would be that interested. There's a ton of duplication of effort there, especially on the Tyco side, which has a huge residential presence already.
GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt built the division through acquisitions of security and fire companies starting in 2002. GE Security projected $3 billion in sales by 2011, up from about $1.8 billion in 2007, Dean Seavers, the unit’s chief executive officer, said in an interview in September 2008.
Yeah, but did anyone really believe Dean when he said he'd almost double revenues in four years, especially considering the worldwide economic collapse? Anyway, I'll be looking into this and I'll see what I can find out.

Last chance for distribution source book

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Distributors: Go here and fill out the survey, if you haven't already.

Who needs integrators?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
These guys will design your IP surveillance system, sell you the parts, and let you do the installation. I think. It's hard to tell exactly what that Web site wants to do, other than sell you some IP cameras. The blog does an okay job of summarizing press releases, I guess, but it's mostly just an exercise in linking to the products they sell. Buy now! The Sheffield Hospital is using these cameras, so should you! Regardless, you've got to think they'll launch some referral program at some point. How could the majority of end users possible install and integrate these systems with confidence they'll perform security functions?

Bank robbery stats; bank branch business

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I suppose I could have looked these up myself, or I could link to the primary source, but why do the research when "Ask Doug" is willing to do it for me? The question for Doug? How many bank robberies actually take place? The answer:
I found the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Bank Crime Statistics for the second quarter of this year. During those three months (April through June), there were 1,278 bank robberies in the United States. That’s an average of 14 per day.
That's kind of staggering, especially considering the stats that follow (i.e., robbing a bank isn't a good way to make money). That's roughly 5,000 robberies a year. And, according to a comment left on this excellent examination of whether bank branches are going the way of the dinosaur (they're not - yet), there are some 100,000 bank and credit union branches in the United States. So about five percent of all branches are hit each year (I'm sure some are hit twice and I'm sure location matters in risk assessment, but that's a good honest number to use if you're pitching a video system to a bank branch, who all already have video systems anyway, but still, you want to sell them a new one). It's no wonder security is a concern. But how good is the security at these branches? Is the ROI real on the security system?
Robbers got away with $9.5 million, and law enforcement so far recovered $1.46 million of that, from 28 percent of the robberies that ended up with money actually being stolen.
So, they got away with an average of $7,433, and you've got a 28 percent chance of recovering the money (obviously, this again depends on location, etc.). Seems like the bank robbers aren't doing a whole lot of risk assessment (they've got a 40 percent chance of being caught, apparently). That's a pretty paltry sum in exchange for certain jail time (I'm guessing crystal meth impairs judgment, yes?) 40 percent of the time. So bank branches stand to lose an average of $7,433 per robbery (which they probably write off right away, so I'm not going to count the money they get back), and that's bound to happen about once every 20 years, going by the math alone.
In almost all the robberies, alarm systems were activated and surveillance cameras were on.
So, the question is, if alarm systems and surveillance cameras result in our current situation, a loss of $7,433 every 20 years, what would happen if bank branches didn't invest in those things? Would that increase to $7,000 every year? Every five years? How many of the 40 percent get caught because of surveillance footage and how many get caught because they're stupid and hide the money in their couch and their buddy rats them out? Just some numbers to get me thinking, I guess.

Security's on Cloud 9... or is it Cloud 85?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I was writing a story on Iveda teaming with mobiDEOS the other day, and I noticed in my interviewing the terms "cloud computing" and "in the cloud" and "cloud technology" were being dropped a lot. I had to be honest with myself and admit, while I kind of got the basic idea of cloud computing, I wasn't exactly sure what it meant, how it worked, and what kind of effect its advent would have on the security industry. The cloud, and cloud computing has been mentioned in a couple of SSN stories recently, and I felt it was time I educated myself. I found a well done article on the emerging phenomenon at Datamation. It gets into just what cloud computing is, how the emerging cloud is being shaped, and what ramifications it will have on numerous industries, including security. There's also a list of 85 cloud computing vendors battling it out for market share right now. Interesting stuff, and useful info with implications for both the physical and data security industries. Enjoy.

The safest city in the great state of Texas

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Have you ever wondered which is the safest city in Texas? Is it McGregor--which is not too far from Crawford where our former president has a ranch? Or is it Bryan--which is next to College Station, home to the A&M Aggies? Bryan has and McGregor is about to install ADT municipal surveillance systems. We heard today, in a lively presentation by Ty Morrow, police chief retired of Bryan, and Bryan deputy police chief Peter Sheets, why Bryan is the safest and we heard from Steve Foster, police chief of McGregor why his city is the safest. McGregor wanted to install cameras as a "force multiplier" for the small police department, while Bryan was dealing with a major crime problem. Morrow, Sheets and Foster described why they decided to partner with ADT (they're looking for a partner and ADT fit the bill in terms of service and products) and had interesting things to say about their strategies for getting the police force, local politicians, and the general public on board for the projects. "Get them buy into to the vision that we want to make the City of ____(fill in the blank) the safest town in the great state of Texas." And once everyone's on board, how do you pay for the project? Morrow found seed money for the project by selling assets confiscated from criminals. We're talking about some serious cash--they've got $45K in the bank right now as the result of the program. And they've got an orange cadillac for sale if you're in the market. Foster's city council actually increase its city budget this year. These guys know their politics. Steve Foster, a former Texas Ranger who stands well over six feet tall, said the state objected to the placement of a pole which was to hold a camera. "One guy from the state said he was going to arrest me if I put a pole there. I said, 'If you think you can do it, c'mon down...I never did hear back from him." The municipal security panel discussion today was one of four events during a day-long event at ADT's fancy Dallas HQ, which is in Carrollton. We also heard toured the IP Lab and Demo center, where customers have systems configured and performance tested and where customers can compare system options side by side. More on this later. Gotta get ready for the dinner right now. Oh, and about the Texas Hold'em last night. I had to fold 'em after not too long. No wild cards you see. If twos had been wild it would have been a different story. The good news is that Leischen Stelter, managing editor of our sister news outlet, Security Director News, won the tournament. I take credit for sitting next to her. Ask Sam, it can be very lucky to sit next to me when you're gambling. And if anyone can find a place that observes wild card rules, watch out.

Ever heard of Allied Telesis?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
They just invited me for a booth visit at ASIS, and since I'd never heard of Allied Telesis, I said yes. They claim to be in the IP surveillance space, and you can find a white paper they've done on their presence in surveillance here, but I've never heard anyone mention them. Just like I seem to discover a new storage manufacturer about once a day who's suddenly paying attention to IP surveillance because they've seen some crazy ABI numbers about doubling of the surveillance market to $41 billion by 2014, so, too, I guess, should we expect switcher makers and other network types who know how to move gigabits around to pay attention to security. Can't be a bad thing, really. Just hard to keep track of them all sometimes. Guess that's kind of my job, though.

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