Avid mea culpas and understatements

Avid’s interim CEO met with analysts last week. TV Technology had a blurb. The whole call is available here.

Avid Technology could have handled its 2005 acquisition of Pinnacle more skillfully and it needs to improve relationships with customers—notably those disappointed with some editing products, Avid’s interim CEO said.

“Looking back, if I could wave my magic wand, I would have had the company grow not quite so fast as it did in some of those boom years,” Nancy Hawthorne told analysts at the J.P. Morgan Small/Mid Cap Conference in Boston Monday. “We did not integrate the several acquisitions that we did particularly well, and as a result, we have kind of a mishmash of different systems, and the company has not been positioned strategically to operate as a seamless entity in presenting a lineup of products to the marketplace.”

The company also rushed some products to market, she said, a resulting in “a quality issue,” particularly in the video business, bringing a severe flattening effect in 2007.

“Some things people just have not been ordering because they’ve been unhappy with Media Composer and the editing products,” she said.

Avid has spent most of its development efforts in the video business in 2007 on fixing those problems with new versions being released now to certain customers. “It’s working out well and it’s beginning to release the flow of orders,” Hawthorne said.

The company’s consumer business is now at best break-even, she said. “So we do need to understand what role the lower-end technology plays in our lineup. Is it strategically critical to us, or is it not?”

Is this news? No. What else can she tell analysts looking for an answer to missed numbers? The fact is that we all know that Media Composer Adrenaline is an expensive disappointment. Many of us rolled our eyes at the Pinnacle acquisition. Why was Avid looking to get into the highly competitive, low margin consumer space? Was it going to take on Apple’s iMovie?

The Pinnacle acquisition has yielded no real benefits to Avid’s professional editing base. Why hasn’t Title Deko Pro found it’s way into Xpress Pro, Media Composer, and Symphony? Marquee is frustrating. Pinnacle also had some very cost effective networked storage solutions… and we can guess why we haven’t seen those migrate to the Avid product line.

Having spent the better part of the past year jumping between Final Cut Pro and Media Composer, neither has my undying support. There’s broken stuff in both, but only one company is publicly admitting it.

5 Thoughts on “Avid mea culpas and understatements

  1. Every person I’ve met from Avid, from sales person to trainer has been unhelpful, smug, impolite and arrogant – and in many ways just like the Avid software itself. They seem indifferent about how I wish to edit and instead wish to evangelise about doing it the right way or risk going to film editor hell. Really, Avid users too are like post production Lutherans and I’m sure the only reason they bought pinnacle was to help elimate the worship of false plugin gods and sinful workflow!

  2. I’ve met and worked with some helpful, polite and humble Avid employees.

    Horses for courses…

  3. mark Raudonis on November 11, 2007 at 1:05 pm said:

    This horse chose a different course because of the above mentioned attitudes.

    At the risk of going one metaphor too far… there’s no point in beating the dead horse, since there’s been several regime changes since then.


    ps. The real question is can the old dog learn some new tricks? 🙂

  4. Robert Lawson on November 11, 2007 at 1:12 pm said:

    That’s quite a sweeping generalization. I deal with Avid staffpeople every single day and I’ve never had an unpleasant experience.

  5. Andy Mees on November 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm said:

    That you deal “daily” with Avid staffpeople speaks volumes for the state of things with your Avids.
    I’m in two minds on the whole skipping NAB thing. Seems to me that for some years now NAB has been attracting everybody and their brother (in a bad way) … hordes and hordes of spectators for want of a better word (no disrespect intended). This isn’t the market segment that Avid has ever really pursued so skipping NAB these days would be unlikely to impact on their bottom line other than to save them the considerable costs of attending the show. It does cause a stir amongst those keeping tabs for sure (don’t we all like to gossip) and it does seem to suggest rolling over and playing dead in the lower end of the market, but I don’t see higher end clients necessarily missing their presence on the show floor.

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