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
Airport Video Surveillance Guide on Jun 30, 2015
This 20-page guide explains the key uses, design factors, and players in the Airport Surveillance market. A global group of 40 integrators and consultants with airport project experience respond...
New Google Nest Cam Tested on Jun 29, 2015
The most important advance for the new Google Nest Cam is video analytics. Though this has not been the focus in the mainstream press, IPVM testing shows that their video analytic advances are sig...
Super Low Light HD Lens Tested on Jun 26, 2015
A smaller F-number can make a big difference in how much light reaches an imager. For example, the difference even between a f/1.2 and f/1.0, which may seem very close, can be significant, as show...
China and Taiwan Manufacturer Financials on Jun 24, 2015
China is the #1 threat to video surveillance providers around the world but how well are Chinese and Taiwan surveillance manufacturers actually doing? This report breaks down the financial perform...
iControl Piper Camera Test on Jun 24, 2015
iControl has raised over $100 million in VC funding to transform the home security market. Last year, they acquired Piper, a camera / home automation startup. iControl now faces off against...
Avigilon Access Control Tested on Jun 22, 2015
Avigilon aims to deliver an end-to-end solution of video surveillance and access control. But how good is their access control? In 2013, Avigilon bought RedCloud for $17 million. However, RedCloud...
The $500 FLIR Thermal Camera Tested on Jun 19, 2015
$5,000 thermal cameras were super 'cheap' not too long ago. Then $2,000 thermal cameras shocked people in 2012. Now, we have thermals cameras under $500, coming from the biggest name in the therm...
The $40 Million Funded Startup Canary Tested on Jun 17, 2015
This startup, Canary, has raised $40 million total since 2014. With Google buying Dropcam for $555 million, investors see big opportunity in security / video startups. Canary now has a sizeable w...
Favorite SMB Video Surveillance Manufacturers on Jun 15, 2015
Most video surveillance manufacturers are fighting to expand their sales to the small to medium size business market. With the high-end saturated from early IP camera adopters, premium brands like...
Online Surveillance Sales Trends 2015 on Jun 11, 2015
IPVM has uncovered the key trends and top options being offered across some of the most well known and commonly used online retailers. Is SD analog still king? Has IP 'won'? Is HD Analog making he...