Struggling To Stay Alive, Avid Has A Fire Sale

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Gee, it seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that the word Avid was synonymous with editing. The very word “Avid” was almost like “Kleenex, “Q-Tip” and “Xerox,” brand names that became descriptive of what they did. Then the personal computer came along and video editing went mainstream.  And the more powerful they got, the easier it became for editors to cut movies on them.

Suddenly, Avid became an albatross.  Seeking to evolve, Avid tried to diversify with purchases of M-Audio and, ironically, Pinnacle studios which had its own PC editor along with several video capture hardware solutions.  But, like Kodak before it, Avid is struggling a ticking clock of extinction.  And so, like Kodak before it, Avid had a fire sale of assets.

It’s been pretty clear for some time that Avid’s attempts at seeking a beachhead in the consumer world were failing.  It’s too bad, because both M-Audio and Pinnacle make some pretty good consumer and prosumer level gadgets for filmmaking.  But at the end of the day, Avid’s bean counters didn’t like the math and realized their best bet was to sell them both off.  And today, the deals closed on both properties.  M-Audio, maker of consumer level microphones, audio controllers, audio IO devices, and speakers, has been snatched up by inMusic, while Pinnacle Systems will go to consumer computer software giant Corel.

Both deals are worth a combined $17 million dollars, a move which looks to save Avid more than $80 million a year, even though they’ll lose almost $100 million in income in the process.  But according to industry experts, the margins that Avid was enjoying were substantially lower than expected.

Most of that savings will come from payroll, as Avid’s total employee count will drop to about 1,500.  The sad part of this is that while some of Avid’s more than 350 affected employees will be kept and transferred to their new overlords, a large majority of them will be let go over time as manufacturing plants will be closed and operations are shifted.

Avid expects that now this experiment in consumerism has been concluded, that their focus on their “media enterprise” division – which includes mostly hardware for broadcasters and news organizations – and that they will be back to an 8-10 point growth curve in the years to come, along with 2 to 3 percent growth amongst the “post production and professional” market. Frankly, I think that’s a bit unrealistic.  Seriously.  Does ANYONE still use Avid anymore in filmmaking or television? (Editor’s note: Major films and TV shows do, but Final Cut Pro and now Adobe Premiere Pro have eaten into its marketshare.) Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree here, but I haven’t seen an Avid machine being used for nearly a decade.  Maybe it’s true for news, weather and sports, but can you really keep a corporation alive in that segment?  Especially with budding TV stations popping up, thanks to low cost equipment and live streaming video?

I think that in due course, Avid’s going to be seeing the same story all over again.   And before long, it’ll be a footnote in the history of video editing.  Then again, the way things are going, that may be true for a lot of the big boys.

Source: Studio Daily

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.


  1. Barry Seybert says:

    Remember some of NAB’s largest booths 20 years ago: Ampex, RCA, Convergence, United Media, CMX.
    Companies come and go. Avid helped kill some of the above mentioned names.

    The circle of evolution in professional video will take it’s course.

  2. Trey Cook says:

    Mr. DeRuvo:

    Pardon me, I’m a little star-struck. I caught your short, “Searching for Inspiration,” and I for one don’t have to search any longer. I’ve found all the inspiration I need in your fine film making abilities. Didn’t you “garner a telly award” for this piece? Of course I discovered this intel in a way that was totally independent of your posting it right below this article. My favorite cuts in this work are the bowtie whip transitions with the whoosh sound effect! Brilliant, tasteful.

    Anyway touching on Avid, I think you said it best: “Seriously. Does ANYONE still use Avid anymore in filmmaking or television? (Editor’s note: Major films and TV shows do…)”. Oops, that kind of made you look stupid. Look, don’t go throwing an industry standard professional editing software under the bus just because you like Macs, or because you don’t like the workflow, or whatever your issue is. The software that an editor uses is just a tool. What makes a good editor is creativity, story-telling ability, experience, the gumption to be original. You may have not seen an “Avid Machine” in over a decade, because you could probably truthfully say… (now channeling Matt Foley) “I haven’t been to a post house; I don’t brush my teeth; and I don’t wipe properly.” Now whether or not you live in a van down by the river, I cannot say.

    The fact is most of film and television today is cut on Avid, Final Cut Pro, and Premiere Pro. But honestly, the majority of major motion pictures and TV shows are still cut on Avid. Stick to radio.

  3. Vincent Hogan says:

    “Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree here, but I haven’t seen an Avid machine being used for nearly a decade. ”

    You are definitely barking up the wrong tree. You need to get out more.

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