Subscribe to

Blogs

More (bad news) on the casinos

 - 
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
On the heels of the Harrah's news yesterday, MGM/Mirage just released their numbers today. Not good. Here's the summary: 2007 net income: $1.6 billion 2008 net loss: $855 million No surprise, they blame the economy. Just in the fourth quarter, here's what happened:
Gaming revenues decreased 17% for the fourth quarter. The Company's total table games volume (including baccarat) decreased 17% in the quarter, with the overall table games hold percentage near the midpoint of the Company's normal 18% to 22% range in the 2008 period, lower than the 2007 period when the hold percentage was near the top end of the range. Slots revenues decreased 12% company-wide. Rooms revenue decreased 21% as market conditions impacted rates and occupancy leading to a 21% decrease in Las Vegas Strip REVPAR(1). Average room rates decreased 15% at the Company's Las Vegas Strip resorts and occupancy decreased from 93% to 85%.
We're staying at Treasure Island for ISC West (again, we booked our rooms too soon, I fear). There better be some $5 blackjack tables!

Executive carousel continues

 - 
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You heard about Scott Schafer leaving Pelco for Arecont on Monday. Now comes word of his replacement (comma use in the below headline is sic): Clifford S. Holtz of Nortel Networks, to Join Pelco as Senior Vice President, Americas Sales I don't have a link for you, but here's the drill:
Clovis, CA (March 17, 2009) – Pelco is pleased to announce that Mr. Clifford S. Holtz has joined the executive management team of Pelco as its new Senior Vice President, Americas Sales, reporting to Mr. Dean A. Meyer, Pelco President and CEO. Holtz comes to Pelco from Nortel Networks Corporation in Denver, Colorado, where he was President of Enterprise Sales, North American.
I think this is an interesting move, if only because he's not a security guy. I've heard both sides of the debate on this one. Some people in the industry say if you haven't sold security, you might as well be a total rookie coming in. Others say the industry needs a taste of how the outside world sells nowadays. Clearly, we see how Dean Meyer and Pelco feel right now.
“The addition of Cliff our management team brings invaluable sales management experience to Pelco. Cliff has a long and successful record of working with leading technology products and independent sales channels that are similar to ours. We look forward to working closely with Cliff to do an even better job of taking Pelco products and services to market,” says Meyer.
The guy's definitely got a good tech background:
Prior to joining Pelco, Holtz was President of Enterprise Sales, North America, at Nortel and was responsible for all sales and marketing activity to this customer base. Leading technology-oriented enterprise business units for over 23 years, Prior to that, he served as Executive Vice President, Business Markets Group at Qwest Communications, where he led a $5 billion unit and managed an organization of over 5,000 employees. Earlier in his career, Holtz was at Gateway Corporation, where he led the $5 billion Consumer Division as Senior Vice President, where he managed all aspects of retail sales channels, advertising and product development. While at AT&T Corporation, he was President, Metro Markets, a $4.5 billion business unit.
Any move that brings top-notch talent into the industry is probably good for the industry as a whole.

ISC West to showcase more than security

 - 
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I love all the little extras you get with ISC West. Granted, this will be my first ISC West show, and I have no point of reference for how this one differs from years' past, but I'm just really wowed at all the promises of cool stuff there. I heard a while ago that Monitronics is going to have UFC champion Chuck Liddell on hand at their booth. I also just heard that Iveda Solutions will be sharing their ISC West booth with John Deere (yeah, the green-tractor people, or for those more into country music, the titular, colored tractor of the timeless Joe Diffie classic) and showing their proof-of-concept video of an impressive piece of hardware. I don't have a link for that one, but here's a bit of the news from Bryce Witcher at Iveda:
Our goal is to show off at ISC West and give people a taste of how their security applications will be facilitated in the future. (Actually, the future is now, as the data infrastructure that makes our solution so robust has already been built and is currently in use.) In addition to showing what we are doing, John Deere (the heavy equipment manufacturer) will be sharing space in our booth to show their latest proof-of-concept product, the R-Gator. It is a semi-autonomous vehicle designed for patrolling areas that might be dangerous or inefficient for people to patrol. This includes huge installations like wind farms and power plants, or even border patrol areas. It carries on-board cameras that can be connected to our data center via wireless broadband cellular or other connections to the Internet. This is a really cool application.
My fearless editor Sam Pfeifle recently blogged on this same phenomenon. Cool stuff, cool stuff, cool stuff. For those a little less into action, less into ultimate fighting and cool, green, autonomous, border-patrol vehicles, Mission 500 will be there holding a silent auction to benefit needy children. There'll be lots there for everyone in the industry. I'm very much looking forward to it.

The casinos are struggling

 - 
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
You'll see in April an interview I did with Jason Oakley, CEO of North American Video, who, one year in, has drastically changed the company's market approach, diversifying beyond video and casinos. Good thing. Casinos might get blasted by this economy. For instance, news comes today that Harrah's is in trouble. Yep, $24.5 billion in debt sounds like a problem when no one's really in the mood to blow all their cash on gambling right now. You'll remember that Harrah's signed that big contract with Cisco for security and more. Have to wonder whether that will actually come to fruition. The storage companies have made hay with the casinos, as have many big integrators, but the casino boom is definitely over, and you've got to wonder if there might be some contraction. Check out this casino industry blog. Major casinos are bringing back $5 tables. And for those of you who'll be in Vegas in a couple weeks, I hope you didn't book your rooms too soon:
According to travel website Orbitz, Las Vegas is slashing room rates to stay afloat amid the economic morass. The average day rate for three-star hotels in Vegas is $48, down 54 percent from 2008’s $104. The average rate for four-star hotels is $87, down 43 percent from last year’s $152. Week nights are even cheaper, says the Las Vegas Sun–you can hit the rack at the Stratosphere for just $25.99 Monday night. That’s even better than the dingy no-tell motels that line the Black Horse Pike outside Atlantic City.
Um, yes, I'm thinking we booked a bit too soon here at SSN. Crap. Anyway, once a go-to market for the security industry, gaming may be a dry well for a good 12 months, if not longer.

Furthering the bad economy=increased crime debate

 - 
Monday, March 16, 2009
I came across this release from PRWeb in my google alerts this morning, and the first thing I want to say is kudos to Los Angeles-based S2-Security Solutions for being in the right place at the right time and helping make the world a better place through the cleaning up of our night time streets. I was interested in the headline of the press release: "Rising unemployment = rising crimes, mail thief caught red-handed in Sacramento." I blogged previously on this debate. Does a bad economy naturally force otherwise well-balanced and law abiding citizens into a life of crime? Or is it just that those who are going to steal are going to steal, and we're all more willing to look for and believe in bad news during tough times? Either way, fears of increased crime DO appear to drive the security industry, which can, especially in this case, be a good thing. My whole problem with the bad economy=more crime assumption is that the kind of guy who would break into an apartment complex mailbox bank and steal people's pension and social security checks, birthday cards, and mail order prescriptions is the kind of dirt bag who would do these things anyway, even if the economy was doing great. I mean, this guy wasn't any Jean Valjean , okay? He would stupidly steal people's mail (opening even one person's birthday card to fish for cash is a federal offense, by the way, Einstein) anyway, just like he would kick a box of puppies or kittens. Even if he were in a good mood. I suppose it doesn't matter whether the people perpetrating crimes are being forced into said moral backslide by the economy or by a drug habit. The important question is, do crimes go up in conjunction with unemployment and a bad economy. Hm... Well, in this case, it looks like they did. I'm just glad they caught this guy. Hurray for live video monitoring!

SIA pushes for full funding

 - 
Monday, March 16, 2009
On Friday, the Security Industry Association called for full funding of the Transit Security Grant Program. Currently, the president’s fiscal year 2010 budget proposal is being reviewed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. From the release:
“With nearly 11 million Americans taking trips on public transportation to save time and money every day, there is no greater moment for Congress and the federal government to reaffirm its commitment to safeguarding our nation’s public transportation infrastructure and protecting the Americans who ride these systems,” SIA Director of Government Relations Don Erickson said. “This can be accomplished by fully funding the Transit Security Grant Program at $900 million in FY2010 and ensuring that these critical resources are sent directly to transit authorities without a match requirement."
The program provides grant funds for bus, rail and ferry systems, and SIA's press release notes that several witnesses at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on March 12 talked about he importance of the funding to keeping passengers safe.
Transportation Security Administration Assistant Administrator John Sammon told the panel that the program "makes transit systems more secure by expanding the deployment of surveillance, monitoring and detection technologies to improve intrusion and anomaly detection, strengthen access control measures and otherwise add layers to harden facility security."
According to SIA, Congress appropriated $388.6 million for the program in fiscal 2009, about half of the amount it had authorized. Lawmakers have authorized about $900 million for fiscal 2010, but have yet to decide how much to appropriate.

Change at the top for Diebold

 - 
Monday, March 16, 2009
Strange. Big day for executive notices today. In this case, it's Dennis Moriarty out at the top of Diebold's security division, and long-time Diebold man Bradley J. Stephenson in. Not sure if that link will work, so here's a few paragraphs:
NORTH CANTON, Ohio, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Diebold, Incorporated (NYSE: DBD) today announced leadership changes as part of an organizational realignment within its security division. Bradley J. Stephenson, vice president, physical security solutions, has been promoted to vice president of Diebold's security division with a focus on increasing the value of Diebold's security solutions to customers and accelerating market growth in the Americas. He is now responsible for the company's enterprise security and fire services operations, government solutions group, monitoring services, security research and development, product management and security marketing and business development functions. Dennis M. Moriarty, senior vice president, global security division, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.
This is one of those times when corporate titles make my head hurt (actually, my head hurts anyway - thanks flu!): vice president, physical security solutions, has been promoted to vice president of Diebold's security division. So he got promoted from vice president to vice president! Congrats, Brad!
"This change is designed to drive efficiencies through defined business processes, targeted geographic focus and organizational optimization," said Thomas W. Swidarski, Diebold president and chief executive officer. "We have an enormous amount of confidence in Brad Stephenson's ability to deliver results in his new responsibilities," Swidarski continued. "His wealth of experience in running various businesses within Diebold across a number of different industries will prove to be valuable in this broadened leadership role."
Does drive efficiencies in this case just mean eliminate corporate overhead?
Swidarski added, "During the time Dennis Moriarty led our security division, he expanded our security offerings and raised the visibility of the company in the industry and with influential decision makers in emerging markets. We thank Dennis for his contributions to our company and wish him well in his future endeavors."
I've spoken with Dennis a few times. I'd think he'd be a good hire for a growing integrator looking to make a splash.
Stephenson has been with Diebold for more than 35 years, serving in a variety of senior management and technical positions including general manager of card systems, fire services and Nexus Software. Stephenson led the company's electronic security division from 1996 to 1999, developing security products to meet the needs of financial services and retail clients. Prior to moving to the security division's corporate headquarters in 1995, Stephenson had more than 20 years of experience in various customer-facing roles.
So, not exactly bringing in a young gun to shake things up.
Moriarty was appointed vice president of Diebold's global security division in 2005. He joined Diebold in 1996 as Eastern Division vice president, where he led the sales, service and systems organizations. He also served as vice president of Customer Business Solutions within Diebold North America. Prior to joining Diebold, Moriarty served in senior leadership positions at Pitney Bowes Corporation in Stamford, Conn. A native of Stamford, N.Y., Moriarty holds a bachelor's degree in English from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Hello! BA in English from Iona? I knew I liked him. Who says an English degree gets you nowhere. I mean, just right here, we've got a VP at Diebold and, you know, a guy who blogs about the physical security industry. Buck up, recent grads! (I'd like to apologize for all the exclamation points - I'm feeling a little punchy.)

Arecont picks up a Pelco exec

 - 
Monday, March 16, 2009
No link, but here you go:
Glendale, CA (March 16, 2009) – Arecont Vision, the industry leader in megapixel IP camera technology, has appointed Scott Schafer as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. In the new position, Mr. Schafer will manage the company's global strategy to market IP-based high-resolution megapixel video surveillance solutions throughout its domestic and international markets.
Is Arecont the "industry leader?" I honestly have no idea. They're claiming to be the leader in technology, I guess, not sales. These kinds of statements drive people like me crazy.
Mr. Schafer brings extensive executive management sales and marketing experience to Arecont Vision. For the last four years, Mr. Schafer held the posts of Senior Vice President of Americas and Global Marketing and North American Sales at Pelco. His experience also includes Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Service at The Reynolds and Reynolds Company, and managing global networking and high availability services for NCR Corp., where Mr. Schafer held numerous global general management, sales leadership and marketing management positions during his 19 year tenure with the company.
Solid resume. Arecont did well here. If Arecont has struggled with anything, it's being seen as a bit of an outsider. Everyone knows Scott, especially because of his high-profile role at Pelco.
“We are excited to have Scott join our dynamic team and look forward to his contributions to Arecont Vision's mission of establishing our state-of-the-art megapixel surveillance cameras as the industry’s primary means of image capture,” said Dr. Michael Kaplinsky, Chief Executive Officer, Arecont Vision. “Scott is well known in the professional security industry, a proven leader and a prominent advocate for IP technology. As the leading supplier of megapixel video cameras, we are delighted to have someone of Scott's stature on-board to help us further our goal of transitioning the video surveillance industry to megapixel technology.”
I wonder if anyone has ever read a paragraph full of quotes like this all the way through, other than the copy editor in the marketing department. I really tried to get through it. But I failed.
While at Pelco, the company grew substantially. By focusing on vertical markets, Scott brought the company closer to end-users and major projects. He also expanded the company's large systems business to concentrate on enterprise-class digital network systems. He increased Pelco's business capabilities related to architects, engineers and consultants, which increased major design wins with specifiers around the world. “Early in my career, I learned how important it is to recognize business opportunities as they develop, and to quickly execute a strategy that takes advantage of those opportunities,” said Schafer. “Arecont Vision's unique position in the megapixel camera market presents numerous opportunities in the professional security market. As successful as Arecont Vision has been in developing the megapixel technology market, the previous success represents only a fraction of our potential for growth. I am excited to join Arecont Vision and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as we continue to expand market share with innovative imaging solutions.”
I think all of that is true, but I also think Scott and Dean Meyer didn't exactly share the same vision for the future of Pelco. These moves will happen with management transitions. Probably good for the industry as a whole - like when a great band breaks up and all the players form their own side projects and you wind up with three or four great bands.

Sam is laid up and Axsys is cheap

 - 
Monday, March 16, 2009
If I'm not getting back to you right away or posting anything of value recently, it's because I have wicked case of something like the flu, thanks, of course, to my children (whom I love dearly). This sickness has nothing to do with going out on the town Friday night. That is a nasty rumor. I'm not sure how these things get started. One thing of interest I'll hopefully have for the newswire on Thurs.: Axsys is ready to get out of the surveillance market. And one guy thinks a defense contractor will buy them. And this other Fool thinks Flir's gonna buy them. This is one of those things that can only be happening in this economy, where everyone's crazy. It's not like the company is in the tank. Their most recent financials are pretty awesome, really. I think most companies would be alright with a greater-than-10-percent net margin and sales growing at 34 percent. But, because people are irrational (and because hedge funds do 25 percent of all trading and people are freaking out and calling in their cash), Axsys' stock is down by half. So, that makes them rather attractive to buy. Hence the overtures. Now, who are Axsys (other than Axis' homonymic nemesis)? Well, they do pretty high-end stuff. Their cameras aren't cheap and aren't on the mass market. I can see why Flir would want some of their infrared technologies and, more specifically, accounts. Now, nothing may happen. But if the offer is well over where the stock is (irrationally) trading, the board is going to have to accept it.

Shareholders approve Tyco move

 - 
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The shareholders said yes yesterday to Tyco International, parent company of ADT and SimplexGrinnell, regarding a relo. Pending some government filings, Tyco International's "home" will no longer be Pembroke, Bermuda, but rather the canton of Schaffhausen Switzerland. Here's the Tyco press release.

Pages