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Argyle buys three companies

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Argyle Security, a rapidly growing international integrator born out of the San Antonio-based ISI, has announced three buys just now. The total purchase price is $14 million, so none of them is a big move, but they have collectively caused the company to up its revenue projections from between $105 and $115 million to between $128 and $142 million. If they're paying $14 million for about $25 million in year one revenue, that's not too bad, right? I'll have more about this on the wire Thursday.

L-1 to buy Bioscrypt

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Monday, January 7, 2008
News just came over the wire that L-1 has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Bioscrypt, recently named the biometric market leader by an IMS study. In a stock-for-stock deal, L-1 will pay about $44 million Canadian, which isn't bad considering the 3Q results you can find here for Bioscrypt. Basically, the company will do about $20-$22 million in 2008, but lost $10 million in the three quarters ending Sept. 30, 2007. This statment from L-1's version of the release thus seems a little optimistic: It is expected to be Adjusted EBITDA accretive in 2009. The cost-savings measures L-1 has planned must be something special, especially considering Bioscrypt will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary and keeps its current locations. I'll have more on the newswire Thursday.

Remote monitoring marketing materials

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Monday, January 7, 2008
Stories like this one about the nuclear industry's new panic about sleeping guards just couldn't be better marketing fodder for those of you out there peddling remote monitoring and video analytics. Perhaps the most shocking part is the ridiculously hypocritical nature of the operators of the power plants themselves. While they protest that they're very (VERY) concerned about security, it takes a borderline heroic security guard to embarrass them on local television before they take his claims about sleeping guards seriously. Check it out: I admire, actually, Wackenhut's realism here. The author paraphrases it this way: Wackenhut says that the entire nuclear industry needs to rethink security measures if it hopes to meet the tougher standards the NRC has tried to impose since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. As in, "Dudes, you were fine with the sleeping guards for the past 50 years. Did you think they'd all of a sudden get much more attentive?" Everyone knows guarding a nuclear power station is some seriously boring work. Unfortunately, the one time guards are needed to act every 10 years or so is a pretty important situation. Thus, it makes sense that the guards need to be patrolling (i.e., moving) and video analytics and central monitoring stations need to be taking care of the surveillance.

Kermit's in da house

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Sunday, January 6, 2008
I was reading in the New York Times this morning about Clorox’s (yeah, the bleach) effort’s to become greener and how their purchase of Burt’s Bees (originally a Maine company that makes lip balm and other natural products) is going to help it do just that. Interesting story and smart move, but I think it'll be a while before we hear "Clorox" and think "green." The next “green story” I came across today was about how consumers’ resolve to be green may push home automation mainstream in 2008. And, of course, residential security is an important piece of the home automation package. The story notes that the “environmental benefits of home automation will be touted at this week’s Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas.” The first wave of home automation adopters may have been the fabulously well-to-do and techy nerds, the story says, but the home automation industry believes “high energy costs and environmental awareness” will help drive widespread adoption, and soon.

AMPS-It's everybody's problem

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Despite all the clamor in the security world about the looming analog deadline, this mainstream news article points out the more widespread panic about analog getting the axe. Since I've personally experienced tunnel vision about this issue from a security-only perspective, I enjoyed reading about irked GM customers who discovered that the cars they bought were equipped with analog OnStar units that wouldn't work come February and couldn't be upgraded despite being less than five years old. BUT, GM did issue some customers a $500 voucher towards the purchase of a new GM vehicle ... And people say the US car industry is floundering. AND, I thought the author did a decent job of including the woes of the security world in the article--towards the bottom of course, but how else will they get you to read the whole thing? However, this article, I can't say the same for. It too was about the analog issue, but frankly, it was just awful. Here's a few of my favorite choppy sentences (granted, it is broadcast writing - never trust anything you hear on television): In home security and fire alarm systems, the change only effects back-up systems. Primary systems function using land phone lines. But if those lines are ever effected by weather or cut by burglars the security system switches to its back-up. The back-up is usually a cellular phone line. If the connection is analog, it must be changed or else security companies would never receive an emergency signal alerting it to call 911. "As long as your [land line] telephone is working, we're going to receive signals from the [security system]," said Vinton security expert Scott Bolen of Alert Security Services.

CEA says digital TV conversion opportunity for integrators

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Thursday, January 3, 2008
For those of you eyeing the home automation space, it might be interesting to note that the CEA now believes at least half of all U.S. homes have a digital television. I'm not sure about the logic that HD TVs equal a need for surround sound and other home automation perks, but it's probably true that HD TV buyers are early adopters of technology in general and have more disposable income for home technology in general. Is it worth trying to partner up with HD TV retailers, a la the Geek Squad, so you know when a new HD TV has been purchased and you can swoop in and offer your services? Anyone got numbers on how much crossover there is between HD TV owners and home security owners? I bet there's a fairly high correlation.

Whall departs HSM/Stanley

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

We just received word here at SSN HQ that Tim Whall has left his post as CEO/headman at HSM (A Stanley Works Company). National sales manager Tony Byerly has taken over the job, effective immediately. I'd link to the news, but there's apparently no official release yet. Guess they'll want to change this page. When Stanley paid big bucks for HSM not much more than a year ago, there was a lot of talk about how Whall's presence was part of the value there. As in these quotes: Sandra Jones, head of consultant group Sandra Jones & Co., said buying HSM is "like buying the Hope Diamond, a one of a kind thing, and so it becomes much more valuable ... You're better off paying a high multiple for a good company than less for a company built on smoke and mirrors." Jones singled out Tim Whall as one of the best executives in the industry. Les Gold, a lawyer with Mitchell, Siberberg & Knupp who brought Stanley and HSM together roughly a year ago, echoed Jones's praise of Whall: "He's just as good as they come." In an interview with Stanley Convergent Technologies Group head Brett Bontrager, I got this: "What we've wound up with is a world-class management team. What Tim [Whall, HSM COO] has put together is really exciting. The culture that they have for winning starts and ends with providing world-class service; everything else will fall in place. It's a culture we'd like to spread throughout our entire convergent security group ... They put their metrics in place and diligently manage to those metrics and they're based on service to the customer." Let's hope Stanley made quick work of spreading Whall's culture throughout the group, or that Byerly and his team have plenty of that culture in petri dishes in the storage closet. Anyone want to hazard a guess on where Whall winds up? He's been in the business a long time; seems like he'd be sticking around.

10 Manchester, NH bars, clubs without fire protection

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Thursday, January 3, 2008
For ten years Manchester, NH fire officials had been reminding (but not forcing) a local restaurant, T.R. Brennan's, to install a fire alarm system. Before the holidays, the fire department put its foot down and sent notice to install or else. The current owners got an estimate, but no system had been installed by Christmas day when the building burned to the ground. There are more details in this Manchester Union Leader story, as well as some curious talk about how a fire alarm may not have made a difference. Huh? Couldn’t have hurt, right? Who knows, maybe it’s a quote out of context. The most interesting part I thought was the list of 10 other Manchester bars and clubs that are not yet compliant with state fire regulations that will take effect Jan 31: Here they are: American Legion Post No. 43 Eleven Eleven Mad Bob's Saloon Knights of Columbus Council No. 5260 Yee Dynasty Club Mount Royal Begy's American Legion Post No. 79 Liquid The Chateau

Mission:Possible - Door to desktop (bear with me)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Okay, so I'm watching the original Tom Cruise remake of Mission:Impossible, and it gets to that very famous scene where Cruise is hanging from the air conditioning duct and can't make the temperature go up, or make a sound or touch the floor or the security system goes off and he's toast. As he's doing this (catching his sweat drop along the way), he's logging into the single most important CIA computer mainframe (do they still call them that? Mainframes?) with the password that he got from the guy who normally mans that ultra-secure room (who's in the bathroom because they poisoned him just a little). This is all very exciting, but the whole time all I can think is: Jeez, how hard is it to link the security system to the computer network so that it knows that the network can't be accessed by a person who hasn't just keyed in the door? Of course, the movie was made in 1996, and Tom Cruise emails people through a little program that shows him a digitized post card with a digitized stamp, but it really doesn't seem like it should have been that difficult even back then. It really blows my mind how late IP communication came to security.

Grillo lands a full-time gig

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
In our January issue, you'll find an article about former HID/Assa Abloy boss-man Joe Grillo joining XceedID's board of directors. In the piece, he talks about looking around for other opportunities "focusing on the RFID space outside the security-and-lock industry." Well, here it is. Grillo has been named CEO of the newly enlarged Digital Angel, which just merged with Applied Digital Solutions and does lots of stuff with RFID and GPS tracking, including implanting chips in your dogs and making sure they never get lost. Or, to quote: Digital Angel's products are utilized around the world in such applications as pet identification using its patented, FDA-approved implantable microchip; livestock identification and tracking using visual and RFID ear tags; and GPS search and rescue beacons for use on aircraft, ships and boats, and by adventure enthusiasts. That doesn't sound like Grillo will be working much with the security installation channel, but maybe he'll bring more of the products into our arena. It's worth watching.

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