Sony Acquires Piximby John Honovich, IPVM posted on Sep 12, 2012 About John Contact John
Sony, one of the world's largest manufacturers of image sensors and cameras, including surveillance, has acquired Pixim, one of the most well known brands in surveillance imaging. In this note, we examine the acquisition, including the outcome for Pixim and the potential for future developments.
Pixim provided this statement:
"Sony Electronics Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pixim Inc. a Silicon Valley-based company which has expertise in designing chipsets for security cameras. Sony aims to utilize their Image Sensor technologies and engineering design expertise to further strengthen its global design and support functions. Upon the conclusion of the acquisition, Pixim Inc. will play an important role for our image sensor semiconductor business as a subsidiary of Sony Electronics."
In addition, Pixim noted that, "The merger is a positive outcome for Pixim's main constituencies: employees, investors, and customers. Pixim company and product brands (Seawolf, Nightwolf, etc) remain unchanged. Sales, customer support, and technical support contacts remain unchanged."
Pixim is historically well regarded for their image processing especially as it relates to handling wide dynamic range scenes. Specifically, Pixim's technology focused on an advanced and uncommon technique to adjusting exposure for individual pixels. Additionally, in 2011, Pixim acquired Advasense including their well regarded engineering team, including the author of a respected image sensing blog.
Pixim's Motivation to Sell
Since starting in 1999, the company has raised well over $100 million in funding, including $5 million last year (see filings). Despite this, in the past few years, Pixim has increasingly struggled with the market's shift to megapixel. While the company was a long term leader in WDR enabled SD cameras, Pixim has never offered a MP version. Though Pixim has recently released enhancements to their SD WDR lines (such as the IR optimized Nightwolf), the lack of MP restrained Pixim from participating in the big growth segment of the market. Sources indicate a likely barrier was funding constraints for the expensive transition to MP sensors / imaging.
Given Pixim's current position and constraints, being acquired by Sony and becoming a part of their organization is likely a very good outcome.
Pixim's Valuation / Return
While the acquisition price was not disclosed, given Pixim's modest market position, the price is likely much less than $100+ million funding.
Given how rare chip startups are within surveillance, this does not have any strong comparables. However, this likely does reinforce how hard it is to build a successful new entrant in such a fragmented market like surveillance, even with a fairly well-developed brand.
How This Might Help Sony
One of the most interesting and confusing elements of this deal is that Sony is quite strong itself in WDR surveillance and routinely scores in the top-tier of our WDR shootouts. By contrast, since Pixim is SD only while Sony has WDR MP, Sony's overall quality in our testing was superior.
Moreover, while Pixim has multiple chip lines, the revenue itself from existing ones is fairly inconsequential to a company of Sony's huge size.
However, since Sony made this deal, we assume that they see some potential for combining Pixim's technology team with their massive resources to develop new solutions for the all megapixel future.
Most Recent Industry Reports
Testing Genetec Security Center on Jul 23, 2014
This is IPVM's first in a series of all new, in-depth test reports on VMS software. We start with Genetec's Security Center. Here's a 50 second video overview: Inside this report are 40 minutes...
Panasonic Series 6 IP Cameras Tested on Jul 21, 2014
Can Panasonic make a comeback? One of the early entrants in IP cameras, Panasonic has been slipping, dues to faster and more aggressive competitors. Now, Panasonic has released a sixth generation...
Favorite Access Control Software 2014 on Jul 16, 2014
What are the favorite access control software platforms? Is it the elder incumbents like Honeywell, Lenel and Software House? Or can newer providers like Brivo, Genetec or S2 make a dent? Just lik...
Summer 2014 IP Camera Course on Jul 10, 2014
Registration is CLOSED. IPVM's industry leading IP camera course provides certification and enables you to master the key concepts, drivers and factors in selecting and deploying modern surveillan...
Testing the Smallest HD Cameras on Jul 09, 2014
Miniature HD IP cameras are a growing trend. It started with cameras that had small 'heads' but large 'base' units. Increasingly, though, the bases are shrinking. Recently, we even found one withou...
IP Camera Statistics 2014 on Jul 07, 2014
All IPVM members can download our new IP Camera Statistics 2014 report. Here's what's inside the 54 page guide: This is a companion report to Favorite IP Cameras 2014, Worst IP Cameras ...
Testing Varifocal Minidome (IQeye) on Jul 02, 2014
Minidomes are increasing in popularity, as IPVM statistics show. However, the most common objection to using minidomes is the lack of varifocal lenses. In this report, we tested the IQinVision&nbs...
Testing Canon IP Cameras on Jun 30, 2014
Canon now owns one of the top global VMS offerings but how good are their IP cameras? Will the combination of Canon IP cameras and Milestone VMS create the next Avigilon? Or will Canon's cameras b...
H.264 High vs Main vs Baseline Tested on Jun 27, 2014
In surveillance, H.264 is often considered a single 'thing' but there are many different sets of capabilities, called profiles, to choose from. The most well known of these are: Baseline Main ...