The hardest-working man in security, John Honovich, reports from the SecuTech show, held in Taipei. (Although he's closer than most of us, being based in Hawaii.)
Seven hundred booths, 20,000 people, maybe 350 video vendors - that's a substantial show by any measure.
He also touches on one of the least-understood pieces of the industry: Who exactly makes what parts of which cameras, and how similar/unique are your average cameras and DVRs?
Edit: As I think about it, John actually traveled West to get to the Far East, so my headline is more than a little East Coast-centric, but I'm going to leave it as is and wallow in my wrongness.
You remember SightMind and Steve Weller?
Well, that blog doesn't seem to be coming along much, but Weller's been busy on other stuff, too. He sent me a link today to a new iPhone/iPod app he's created that's a storage calculator for IP video installations.
Check it out.
Called the IPVS Calc, it does basically what you would expect: It figures out how much storage you'll need for whatever amount of cameras at whatever frame rate and image quality you need. Looks pretty handy, actually. And, of course, it looks slick, too.
I think this would be particularly useful in the initial consulting stage where you can set expectations quickly for the customer. If he's talking about a thousand cameras recording 24/7, you can quickly figure out the size of the server farm he's going to need to invest in. Actually, maybe that's a bad idea. As soon as the end user sees he'll need a petabyte, he might reconsider buying those 1000 cameras...
Anyway, it's available at the App store for $34.99, which is pretty reasonable, actually. Just search IPVS in iTunes and it's the only thing that comes up.
Of course, all the analytics vendors will tell you this isn't necessary anymore because they're handy-dandy analytics will make it so you store way, way less and you can manage your storage, etc. But that's a different conversation.
I'm supposed to lead two panels at ESX in June. One of them, focusing on succession planning for installation companies, is all set. However, the other, focusing on recruiting young and new talent into installation companies, is as yet not full.
Seriously, why is it so hard to find someone who's relatively new to the security industry and isn't a field tech. Isn't there a single executive in the installation/integration community who didn't start out plugging stuff in when he was 15?
If anyone is relatively new to the industry, works for an installer/integrator, and would be interested in talking about how you were recruited into the industry (or how you came to security in general), drop me a line.
Just wanted to give people a quick update on Axsys, which is potentially for sale.
Since I wrote the initial story, the stock price has remained right in the $40 range, where it jumped on news of the potential sale. However, that's still well below December's high near $75.
The price hasn't really gone up this week, either, despite strong Q1 numbers (warning: that's a pdf):
Period comparisons vs. the first quarter of 2008.
â€¢ Sales increased 18% to $66.6 million;
â€¢ Gross margin was 33.1% compared to 34.0%;
â€¢Â Operating margin improved to 16.4% from 14.2%;
â€¢ Net income increased 37% to $7.0 million;
â€¢ Backlog increased 3% year over year to $162.1 million.
A 10.5 percent net margin's not bad at all. But it would still take about $500 million (guessing that $45 a share would do it) to acquire a $275 million (+/-) manufacturer. Not totally a bargain.
The nation's two big industry associations serving the retail community have decided to merge. It's kind of a big deal since both run loss-prevention conferences and put out data that influence how the security industry interacts with what is a large (if recently shrinking) business opportunity.
I don't have a link, but here's the release:
RILA and NRF Agree to Merge
New Merged Association to Provide a Single Retail Voice in Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) today announced that the executive committees of both associations have unanimously agreed in principle to a merger that will create a single trade association representing retail interests in the nationâ€™s capital.
The new organization will provide enhanced value to both RILA and NRFâ€™s members and help to ensure that the retail industry speaks with a one voice to advance the industry and its more than 15 million workers.
The cynic in me says that retailers are getting hammered right now and no one's paying their dues, and this is a way to keep both organizations afloat. But maybe it's because they want to provide enhanced value to their members. That's totally possible.
â€œThis is an historic time for our industry. The challenges and opportunities before our members are unprecedented. Now is the right time to bring these associations together,â€ said RILA Chairman, Robert A. Niblock, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Lowe's Companies, Inc. and NRF Chairman Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, Chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. in a joint statement.
Gosh I hate it when people use "an" in front of "historic." That goes back to when people pronounced the word "istoric" and it made sense. But now pretty much everyone pronounces the "h," yes? Unless you live in Boston, maybe, where they pronounce "huge" as "yuge." But I digress.
According to Niblock and Ullman, in addition to enhancing member value, the new (and as yet unnamed) association will accrue substantial benefits to all members collectively, small and large, including:
â€¢ A unified and stronger voice on policy, communications, and public affairs issues in Washington, DC
â€¢ A host of exciting member events and conferences open to the combined membership of NRF and RILA and, including NRFâ€™s â€œBig Showâ€ and RILAâ€™s annual Logistics Conference scheduled for January and February, 2010
â€¢ Focused educational offerings and operational services for independent retailers
â€¢ A single point of integration and dialogue with state retail associations and business groups in state capitals across the United States; and
â€¢ A fully-integrated staff.
Potential names for the organization: The National Retail Industry Leaders Foundation Association; The National We Wish the Internet Had Never Happened Association; The Organization that Used to Include Book Stores and Records Stores But there Aren't Any More of Them; The Soon there Will Just Be Wal-Mart Association; The Okay, Maybe there Will Also Be Target and JC Penney or Something Federation Association Foundation.
It's hard to pick just one, really.
Completion of the merger requires that both NRF and RILA submit to a thorough due diligence process. The details of the merger are being developed by representatives from RILA and NRF. Both associationsâ€™ boards of directors must recommend the merger, and both memberships must approve it.
Both RILA and NRF expect the process to be completed by this summer.
In all seriousness, this new group will represent a powerful lobbying body and a group that could definitely sway the security industry's direction. They've already been involved in analytics standards development (not sure how that turned out, really) and I think you can expect more attempts to make the security industry more aware of retailers' pain points.
GE Capital announced April 20 that it had sold its entire stake in SAFE Security, one of the larger full service security alarm companies, with accounts in 44 states.
SAFE Security is involved in purchasing, financing and servicing residential and commercial security alarm monitoring contracts, as well as installing alarm systems. SAFE Security has recently streamlined its operation with initiatives such as software upgrades, and consolidation of monitoring stations.
Bank of America provided a $25 million senior credit facility as part of the transaction between GE Capital and private equity firm Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners, LP. Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners has also invested an undisclosed amount of new equity capital SAFE Security, and while the firm has assumed a majority ownership position, SAFE Security's founder and CEO Paul Sargenti will remain in the picture with a significant ownership interest.
I've mentioned Cernium's Archerfish in passing, but now it's ready for sale.
What is it? Well, it's basically video analytics for the home. It takes the whole concept of monitoring latch-key kids and pets from afar to another level entirely by using video analytics to trigger event notices, instead of motion detectors or kids punching in a code at the key pad.
Or, more specifically:
Using a combination of video cameras, an Archerfish SmartBox (an intelligent device with advanced video technology) and the Archerfish SmartPortal (a custom web portal), Archerfish 'watches' one or more locations for specific situations, providing peace of mind and helping manage unexpected situations. Examples include confirming children arriving home from school; learning about an unwelcome intruder; knowing an elderly parent living alone is up and about; and ensuring critical business events such as deliveries and store openings happen.
Okey-doke, sounds good. Where do security installers sign up?
Well, Cernium's announcement first talks about using A/V distributors to take this thing to market:
Beginning this month, Archerfish will be offered in the Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Arizona and Nevada markets through Audio Video Warehouse, Bay Distributing and Shifting Sands Stereo Distributing. These organizations comprise the initial phase of a program that will encompass the United States and the United Kingdom later this year.
Wait a sec. That's not exactly ADI, Tri-Ed, and Anixter, is it?
Here's the AV Warehouse line card (Cernium hasn't made it yet, but we'll assume the web guys just haven't been alerted of the big news yet).
Clearly, this isn't your standard security channel Cernium's developing here. Certainly, a great many security installers also work in the A/V channel, but video analytics have never been pitched to that side of the house in my experience. By my reckoning, video analytics for the house is a pretty forward-thinking concept.
Here's an interview with Craig Chambers about it:
Note he says it will be "primarily sold through Telcos" eventually, but that they're going through high-end specialty retail and high-end residential installers to start. (Also note that Nicole's going to figure out who's been pooping on her lawn.)
Security guys, this may not be for you. But it could be, I think. I'm not sure people are going to want to/be able to self-install this, but maybe I'm wrong. So if you succeed early with the product, and this concept, maybe that telcos idea will never come about.
Coming on the heels of news that venture capitalists have bought out GE Capital's stake in SAFE Security (we'll have more on that soon), I wanted to give security-industry readers a little more perspective on the venture capital landscape.
I'm stealing this from the excellent Dan Primack at PeHUB, whom I've referenced before. This time, however, the information comes from the PeHUB wire, which I can't seem to link to, so I'll just quote the good stuff.
Basically, nobody was doling out money in Q1:
Q1 VC Numbers: Oh, The Horror
Venture capitalists disbursed just $3 billion into 549 companies last quarter, according to data released over the weekend by the MoneyTree three (PwC, NVCA & Thomson Reuters). Thatâ€™s a 47% dollar drop from the $5.7 billion disbursed in Q4, and a 61% drop from the $7.74 billion disbursed in Q1 2008. The number of companies funded didnâ€™t decrease quite as dramatically â€” suggesting that lowered valuations partially helped drive down the dollar numbers â€” but still were off 36% and 43.8%, respectively.
This just underscores why I find funding announcements in security so interesting right now. These VCs are being careful with their money, and it shows a bit of faith in a company or technology when they dole out cash to the likes of Aoptix or Orsus or Red Shift or Alarm.com.
Every major industry sector experienced double-digit declines, while the percentage of first-time fundings stayed constant at around 20% (although the value of such deals fell by 48%).
It's a testament to just how small the security industry remains that the National Venture Capital Association doesn't even break security out as an industry sector. It's smashed somewhere into these categories:
Business Products and Services
Computers and Peripherals
Consumer Products and Services
Media and Entertainment
Medical Devices and Equipment
Networking and Equipment
Is security an "other"?
The quarterâ€™s busiest firm was Oak Investment Partners, which made 12 investments. Other (quasi) busybodies included SV Life Sciences (11), Draper Fisher Jurvetson (11), Venrock (11), Highland Capital Partners (10), Menlo Ventures (10) and Polaris Venture Partners (10).