New Grass Valley CEO Details Agenda of Balanced Change

Grass Valley is now a standalone company separate from Technicolor, and, having officially been acquired by private-equity firm Francisco Partners, the company has a renewed vision for the future. A new global headquarters in San Francisco, a renewed balance between products and services, and a dedication to software development and “coopetition” are just a few of the talking points that new President/CEO Alain Andreoli raised in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“We want to drive an agenda for change but of balanced change,” explained Andreoli, Francisco operating partner, who has spent the past 25 years working in technology companies around the world. “We can really see the strengths of the assets that the company has developed over the years. It’s a new beginning, but it’s going to be a balanced transformation that we are going to drive.”

Francisco Partners is a $7 billion private-equity fund with close to $5 billion already invested in more than 50 companies, all established institutions with a foundation for innovation.

“We are looking at companies that are not startups,” Andreoli said. “We felt this is the right time, with the business being at an inflection, to step in and unleash the potential of a company that has clearly not flourished very well under the Technicolor umbrella.”

Added Jeff Rosica, EVP/chief sales and marketing officer for Grass Valley, “Being part of a large conglomerate with a lot of agendas and a lot of different strategies, I think Grass Valley lost some of its focus. It’s really nice to be in an environment where it’s very focused on what we’re doing as an organization.”

To create the new, independent Grass Valley, Francisco Partners carved out an integrated suite of products that Andreoli calls a cohesive set. At this point, he has no conception of what the end of this investment will entail, from a consolidation to an Initial Public Offering, but he is certain that rebuilding Grass Valley will take several years and Francisco Partners is prepared to support the company throughout the process.

Andreoli’s first order of business has been to simplify the company into four core product groups, each headquartered in a different region: editing servers and storage is based in Portland, OR; routing and signal management, Salt Lake City; image-capture solution, The Netherlands; and live-product solutions, Nevada City, CA. The company’s new global headquarters will be located in San Francisco, and Andreoli noted that, infrastructure-wise, there is a lot of work to be done to allow the company to operate on its own two feet.

“I’m calling 2011 the year to transform because this is a year where we take the time to reflect where we want to take the company,” he said. “This will be a year of full profitability. We are going to simplify our internal infrastructure and centralize it in San Francisco, taking all the time that we need to build a long-term vision for the business.”

Going forward, Andreoli said, Grass Valley must offer clients a balance of products and services. He aims to transform the company into a leading professional service operation, which will complement its reputable product offering.

“Having a few best-in-class products is not good enough,” he said. “We believe customers need solutions; they need to have an architect sitting at their table. We believe Grass Valley is really a broadcast expert, and there are ways to transform our expertise into a role of trusted advisor for the consumers in the market.”

With its strong history in the switcher market, Grass Valley has traditionally been a specialist hardware vendor, but Andreoli said the company will be moving more and more into software. Along those lines, he acknowledged that Grass Valley cannot exist in a vacuum, so its products will be able to integrate into solutions that contain other vendors’ products, even if those other vendors are competitors.

“Getting at this convergence between IT and video, it’s very important not to do everything ourselves but to be more open, not to have proprietary systems but to have solutions that leverage alliances. We intend to look at the coopetition mode around us and find the best way to make it easier for customers to insert Grass Valley solutions while working with the rest of their portfolio of products and solutions.”

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