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Quick Chat: Quantel’s Steve Owen on the purchase of Snell

By Randi Altman

As a follow-up to last week’s news that Quantel had bought Snell, we thought it would be a good idea to throw some questions at the UK-based company, which is not necessarily known for its history of acquisitions.

Steve Owen, Quantel’s marketing director, kindly took time out from what is likely NAB craziness to share some details how about the company’s path  led here.

How long had this process been in the works?
We got into it in December. We had been looking for suitable acquisition candidates a little bit longer than that, but it was in December that we got seriously engaged with Snell.

What did Quantel see in Snell that made you feel it would be a good fit all around?
There are three key reasons. The first is quite mundane: they are local… just down the road. So when we want to organize things, we don’t have time zones in the way or miles between us.

Corporate culture wise, this is the first acquisition that we’ve done in my memory [he’s been with Quantel for 18 years], so we wanted to be sure it was going to work. Part of that was making sure the company we were looking to acquire shared some of our values, and Snell absolutely does. They share our values in terms of customer support, quality, innovation, so culturally they are very close to Quantel. I think that is going to be a big factor as we work together to make this a success.

The third reason — the beautiful thing — is their product range doesn’t overlap our product range at all. Yet, we do sell to the same customers doing the same type of content creation, versioning and delivery, but we just sell to different parts of the chain. We don’t have any product overlap or product rationalization issues, we can move forward with the combined organization and all the existing products, just bigger.

When you think Quantel you don’t think acquisitions. What led the company here?
Part of it is we are looking at the way the business is changing. There is a lot of not just technology change but fundamental business model change going on with our customers, and you have to look at how you can thrive in that changed world.

One thing we saw clearly was we needed to be bigger, which you can do that via organic growth, which we continue to do, but we wanted to look at acquisition as a way of growing as well. We are a successful company, and we have a good track record. I think the time was right to do an acquisition. And if another good candidate comes up it might not be the end of it.

Will you be at NAB in early April with separate booths?
Yes. We will both have our existing booths since they were already in the States by the time the acquisition was done and dusted. But at NAB 2015 we will be at one booth.

Will that be under the name Quantel, or will the Snell name remain?
The Snell brand and products will carry on exactly as they are today. So at NAB 2014, we will have a stand that has Quantel products on it and a stand that has Snell products on it. We aren’t going to make any short-term changes to either brand. The Snell brand is really successful and we don’t want to risk damaging that, so we’ll keep going with Snell. So on the Snell booth you will see a sign that says “A Quantel Company,” and at ours it will tell you what’s on the Snell booth.

How do you see their technology, things like TV Everywhere, fitting into Quantel’s technology?
There is some amazing technology synergies that we’ve got coming down the pike. The TV Everywhere is a great part of the Snell business. Their On Demand platforms and IP switching and routing area is an exciting area of the Snell business. So there is a lot of good tech that will complement our tech in the future.

Will it be across all the parts of the industry that Quantel serves? Sports, broadcast, post?
The short-term obvious one is the broadcast news and sports area. Snell have the switchers and the infrastructure and the standards converters, which makes all this stuff possible. We have the storage and the editing and the working in parallel infrastructure that makes sports and news broadcasting practical and possible. With TV Everywhere they have a multi-platform delivery side of things.

So it’s a really nice combined story that takes the signal from the back of the camera and does everything you need to do. We can offer so much more of the chain together than we did apart.

I hope the excitement here has come across. We are looking forward to having loads of new people working at the headquarters, and for our R&D teams to start interacting and bouncing ideas off each other. It’s an exciting time.


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