When the new Grass Valley CEO addressed a group of reporters assembled to hear the company’s pre-NAB plans, they didn’t hear about the roll-out of yet another piece of ‘big iron’. Instead, Tim Thorsteinson acknowledged that Moore’s Law effected even this once staid company. Now, said Thorsteinson, “our value has shifted into software.” The increasing pace of commoditization meant that the company’s traditional switchers and routers would, at some point, be replaced by smart software such as the company’s Stratus initiative.
Tim Thorsteinson has seen a lot of change in his years at the helm of various companies making traditonal broadcast gear.
Over a decade ago, Thorsteinson ran Grass Valley as Tektronix closed on a deal to acquire it. He left to run Leitch, another broadcast equipment provider, which then was bought by Harris. After years running their broadcast division, he recently returned for his second go around as its CEO. Grass Valley, which was sold by Technicolor in 2011, is now owned by private equity firm Francisco Partners.
With computer platforms becoming ever more capable, noted Thorsteinson, the company will move further into delivering products based on its Stratus application framework. Stratus is a service oriented architecture (SOA) fronted by a user configurable Grass Valley-designed GUI. This combo is key to the company’s new product offerings, indeed its whole future.
The latest version of Stratus includes new toolsets to simplify use of its automated, rules based file operations. Also new in the latest release: EDIUS XS, a non-linear low-resolution proxy editor.
Pointing up how crucial such software is becoming to the company’s bottom line, Thorsteinson said that Grass Valley would begin selling software licenses for their products within the next year or two, which should provide “a nice revenue stream.”
He also noted that since most of Grass Valley’s products are used for live production, the company sits in a good spot that should lock in future revenue growth. The market for live production, live content, and live sports does offers a sweet spot for the company’s portfolio. How’s that? If you’re making something that has to go out live, you won’t look for the lowest-priced product but for the bullet-proof one, whatever it costs.
Graham Sharp also presented at the event. Sharp, who also once worked as a Grass Valley exec, is now returning as chief marketing officer and senior vice president for corporate development.
Sharp, who most recently worked as a marketing head for Avid, saw the Grass Valley’s future in offering “nonlinear production” solutions for live and other broadcast events. His use of the term nonlinear production, he said, was indicative of what needed to change in the traditional live production realm. Grass Valley’s upcoming gear will break down the “silos” that have been built into live production. These silos—Chryon, switching, mixing, etc—will fall aside as GV’s integrated Stratus platform approach prevailed.
Stratus works by abstracting the hardware layer below the User Interface, said Sharp, allowing production staff to become less dependent upon individual pieces of gear and more concerned with the creative tasks at hand. The Stratus platform will also help Grass customers automate the distribution of content to multiple platforms, or “create once, publish many,” said Sharp, recognizing the multiple platforms onto which today’s content lives.
While the company divulged several new products and product strategies for the NAB Show, they are embargoed until March. Check back with NYCPPNEWS for updates on the specific gear that Grass Valley thinks will bring it back to its place as the leading provider of broadcast gear.