Canon Acquires Briefcam, Now Owns Briefcam, Milestone and Axis

By John Honovich, Published May 09, 2018, 08:20am EDT

Canon already owns two of the biggest names in video surveillance, Axis (acquired in 2015) and Milestone (acquired in 2014).

Now, Canon has acquired Briefcam, the most well-known specialist in video search.

In this note, we examine:

  • Briefcam's current business position and growth, based on a recent conversation with Briefcam's CEO.
  • How Briefcam will likely interact (or not) with Axis and Milestone
  • How the Canon / Axis / Briefcam / Milestone combination will compare against Motorola / Avigilon
  • Briefcam's V5 Expansion

Briefcam ******** ******** - ****** / *******

************ ******* **** **** 100% ** **** *** are ** ****** ** grow ******* ***% ** 2018. ***** *** ******* was ******* ** ***** ago, **** **** *********** their **** *********** ****** in *** **** *** years. ** ******** ********'* 2018 ******* **** ** in *** $** ******* range *** ******** ******** to ******* ** **** .

Acquisition ***** ********

** ******** ** *********** price ** *** ~$*** million *****, ***** ********'* strong ******, ***** * software ******** *** *****'* historical '********' ********** (*.*., Axis, * ******** ************, was ******** ** * 4x ***** ** ***** ratio).******* *********** ****** ******* $90 ******* *********** ************** ** ******* ***** to *** *******.

Strongest ****** ***

*** ******* ******** **** is * ***** ** mega ***** ************ ******, with *** '***-***' ********* being * *** ******* cameras. *******, *** ******* does *** **** * large ****** ** ********* (in *** ***** ** hundreds ** *** ********* per ****) *** *** customers **** ** **** tend ** ** ***** large (*.*., *** *********** and **********).

Constraints ** ******** - ****** / ***********

*** **** *********** *** challenges *** ******** ** that ** ** ********* and ***********, ****** ** harder ** ******* ****** one ** * **** large ************ **** (**** their ********* *** ********* above). ******** ******* ***** around *** **** *** camera ** ********** *** licenses (** ***** *** then *********** ********) **** one ***** ** ****** additional ******* ** ** the ***** ********** (******** is *** ******** ** cameras). **** ** ********* needs ** ** ********** with *** ***** ***** (though ********* ** *** of ********'* *** ******* integrations).

***********, ******** *** *** to **** ***** ********* themselves, ***** ********* ***** costs *** ****** ************* given ***** ******* ***** team *** *****.

Standalone *******

**** **** *** ********* before **, ******** *** declared **** **** **** be * "********** ******* within *** ***** *****" and **** ***** ********** team **** **** ** place. * ***** ** favor ** **** ***** the **** ** **** Axis *** ********* **** remained ********** *** **** than * ***** **** their ******** ********** **** with ******* ************ **** Canon. ** **** ***, we *** ******* ***** may ******** ****.

Potential *** *****-******* *** '***********'

*****'* ********** ******** *****, there ***** ** *********** business ******** ** *****-******* Briefcam *** '********' ** within **** *** *********. Consider:

  • ********* ******** **** **** cameras (***** ******** **** not **** ***** ** ACAP ***)
  • ****** ******** ** ***** right **** ******** (******* any ****** ** ***-**)
  • **** *** *********'* ***** sales ***** ******** ******** into ***** **** **** of ********** ********.

***** ***** ******* ** significant ********* ** ***** so.

Open ******** *****

*** * ** ***** companies ********* ***** **** platforms. ** *** ****** they ******* ** ***** or *****-**** **** *****, it ***** ********* ***** relationships **** ******** (*.*., Axis *** ******** ********* Genetec ** ********* ********* analytic *********, ***.).

** ***** *****, ** Canon's ********** ******** *****, then ** ***** ****** limited ***** ******* ** favoring *** ** ***** limit *** ******* ******** of ****** ***** * companies.

Avigilon **********

*******, *** **** ******** and *********** ********** ** Canon / **** / Milestone / ******** ** Avigilon / ********. *** global ********* ****** * suite ** *******, *** and ***** *********. ***** Axis, ********* *** ******** may ******** ** ****** at **** ** ***** core ************ **** ********'* individual *********, ******** *** 2 **** ********* ***** advantages - (*) *** products *** '*******' *** work ******** ******, *** of *** *** *** (2) **** *** **** and ******** ** * unified ************, ****** **** a ********** ** *****-***** companies.

Briefcam ** *********

************, ******** ******* ** 'synopsis', ******** ********, *********** video ***** **********, ***** were ** ******* ******* value. **** ********, ********,********** **** ******* *, *** **** ********* into * **** ***** of ***** ********* (*******, color, ******, ***, ***.) as **** ** ********** search *** ****** ***********. We **** *** ****** this ** ** ****** opine ***** *** **** it **** **** *** to *** ****** **** do ***** ********* ** a *****, **** **** increase ***** ***** *********** and *********** *********** ******* Avigilon *** ******.

Poll / ****

Comments (49)

Recent M&A trends in the industry have clearly established that its no more product sale business...manufacturers have to offer "Solution"...all standalone product manufacturers (unless very specialized) will be either acquired or vanish one day... 

Wonder how this is going to effect the relationships with Indgiovision and other VMS intergrations with Breifcam. 

Briefcam says no changes, "will continue to remain an open platform, working seamlessly with other third party products in the market ecosystem, providing customers with freedom of choice."

Milestone is already so much bigger than all the other VMSes Briefcam integrates with (except of course Genetec) that the smaller VMSes are more constrained by the relative lack of opportunities than Briefcam being owned by Canon.

The Genetec impact is more interesting but if Canon owning Axis and Milestone has shown so far, Axis still works quite closely with Genetec, from what we have seen.

“Milestone is already so much bigger than all the other VMSes Briefcam integrates with (except of course Genetec)”

.... Or Avigilon



I gave you a funny for that Avigilon employee.

Let me ask you: how much are you going to be pitching Briefcam when you offer a direct rival to Briefcam built into your system?

My point is, whether or not Briefcam is owned by Canon or K-Mart, Avigilon will be advocating their own analytics, not Briefcam.

Briefcam analytics and Avigilon analytics are different and both have there place. Not to mention the hugh price difference between the two.

I don't see much 'place' for Briefcam within Avigilon and for Avigilon's salespeople, given as you mention, the huge price premium for Briefcam and  the unification of Avigilon's analytics into ACC.

Motorolas VC arm invested in them in 2013. I'm surprised they didn't end up acquiring them 



Paul, good recall! I forgot that. $6.5 million from them. Surely, Motorola had an opportunity to buy them but already having Avigilon (and their analytics), I would suspect Motorola would be less willing to pay the premium than Canon (without an analytics offering) did. Just a guess.


As far as Briefcam, I've only seen it being used to show its capabilities. I would like to see real life usecases

In city surveillance projects, it seems it's used as PR more than substance 

We have been running a demo server for a couple of months and have been showing multiple customers.  Once the software is installed which isn’t easy it the solution works very well.  

I think it's a great solution but I'm curious to how well this works practically. It's one thing to pitch it with a few well placed cameras in controlled environments.

How well will it work on a large scale, use it everywhere to quickly weed through video data strategy?

What are specs for servers and how much video can they process?

Well keep in mind they have 2 solutions.  One that ingests video from other systems and one that is integrated into other systems.    We have it running on a couple of cameras inside our office and outside in the parking lot and it is very impressive to use the "path" feature to only show trucks entering the parking lot or show green motorcycles driving south on the road.  You can also search for females or males with blue basically anything you want. Heat maps, congestion, and path analysis are also very useful.  I 

Also, they have built-in BI into the solution so now you can get data from your video.  If you have camera monitoring a highway you can see how many cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles per lane.  This flexible depending on what type of search you're using but it allows you get data from your video. 

There is also a new alerting feature so say you want to get notified when a red pickup enters your property or child is lost and he is wearing green with a backpack.  

The previous version of Briefcam used CPU for processing so it fell under the more you spend the faster you get results rule. The latest version of the software now uses GPUs for processes so there is a significant improvement from what I remember somewhere around X4 faster than the CPU version.

I was skeptical about there claims but was impressed once we had the software in-house to test. My hope with Canon is that they reduce the pricing so more customers with lower camera counts can take advantage of this solution. 


In city surveillance projects, it seems it's used as PR more than substance

I actually think Briefcam makes more sense in city projects than facility ones. My rationale is this: 

Inside a building, being able to show 'all people wearing red going down a hallway' is not very useful, since most buildings traffic is not that high, even a few minutes of looking at motion events will generally work and normally most people are known insiders so easier to know what you are looking for.

But in a city, traffic is higher and people are going to be unknown, so searching based on really generic clues like color of clothing or car or driving in a certain direction could be a lot more useful. Also, public funding may help with that as well vs an individual business justifying paying for it.

Ive seen the live demos and it is impressive. The red cars driving, user creating a line to show all red cars turning right at the light, etc

From my experience, if a city spends much money on a suite of technology, they get their moneys worth with PR to justify the cost to the taxpayer and for the next budget cycle.

A little off topic, but what percentage of traffic cameras are actually recorded? All the ones Ive ever seen do not record because its a FOIA nightmare. Ones that did record, no longer record.




Motorola Solutions Venture Capital also previously released in Agent VI.  

Video analytics co Agent Vi raises $4m


Next stop for Canon...Lenel?

Not sure if you are serious or not about that :)

Canon's pattern so far is to purchase modern technology products in each space. Lenel was great ... in 2003. Today, it is a mess, more fixer-upper than anything (e.g., Worst Access Control 2018Lenel Partners Angry, Lenel Does Not Care, etc.)

But, to your point, Canon is clearly making a play to buy assets in each segment, so an access control acquisition would make sense.

I agree but that begs the question of who would be top acquisition candidates in this space that fit Canon’s acquisition M.O.   Seems like a very limited list. 

Maybe Open Options???

Agree. They would probably make my top 3 on that list. 

The fact that they are having some issues is the exact reason I think someone will purchase them.  As a software company, they don't really seem to fit well into the UTC model.  I don't see great strides happening while under UTC. 

I personally do not have many issues with OnGuard itself, it is getting the folks at Lenel to be responsive when we need assistance.  Even when I am driving large sales it seems they are a bit overwhelmed and cannot react very timely to assist.  Milestone on the other hand is typically very responsive to my needs.

Recently, Milestone and Lenel have had a deeper partnership then they ever have and I think they both are feeling some pain from Genetec.  It would make good sense to pair them up under the same organization to bolster development, drive sales and unify against Genetec.  

As a software company, they don't really seem to fit well into the UTC model. I don't see great strides happening while under UTC.

I agree with you about that. I don't know whether or under what terms UTC would sell Lenel though.

Recently, Milestone and Lenel have had a deeper partnership

Related: Milestone / Lenel Resell Partnership

Don’t they have that with Axis? 

'That' meaning access control? Axis also has multiple VMSes but that's not going to prompt them to discontinue Milestone XProtect ;)

Yes, Axis has access control but it is quite limited and not comparable (nor claimed to be) an enterprise access control offering.


S2 has pluses, in terms of its technology and being independent. The only possible weird fit is that S2 now leads with being 'unified', so I wonder how it would fit if they want to eventually merge it with Milestone.

Interesting point is that neither Milestone neither Axis couldn't develop in house solution for advance search capabilities. Good luck with this purchase, hope it will help Canon to create a bit more advanced solution offerings..

#3, that's an interesting comment. It is indisputable that neither Axis nor Milestone did develop this in-house. However, I think a bigger problem than technology is business model.

Both Axis and Milestone strive to be open platforms (I am not saying it's totally open or they always live up to it but they clearly prioritize being open to 3rd parties, unlike say Avigilon where that is a secondary priority, at best).

A benefit for Avigilon is that they can add in search or analytics and not worry about it impacting their business model or alienating their partners, because Avigilon's model is selling an end to end solution.

Nonetheless, whether it is technology or business model driven, Avigilon clearly has an advantage in having this 'unified' in both product and sales compared to these 3 standalone companies.

Another great Israeli technology company, i'm sure they are going to be much stronger after this move.

Please do not forget that Milestone was bought by Canon Europe and Axis by Canon itself. I believe we should not look at those as the same in this context.

In my opinion, the acquisition of Milestone was more an investment to save taxes, while the other ones could be more of strategic investments. Of course, I could be completely wrong.

Based on the above, I believe this acquisition would result in Briefcam being more tightly integrated with Axis, while it would not change much for Milestone. 

I dream about a improved integration between the three, it would bring a lot on the table. However, this would result in closing the open platform, as already stated earlier.



On the other hand, with Milestone finally announcing GPU accelerated VMD (with Nvidia) in the next release and Briefcam already using this, means there is field to scale and to embed the product within Milestone without customers investing greatly in the hardware part.



Whatever it is the deal, I would expect years to pass before we see the result. 


Great deal! With forensic search capabilities, powered by Briefcam - Milestone and Axis has a good chance to keep their market shares.

Hope to see comparison of forensic search features between Briefcam, Avigilon and Axxon, of course.

But still, they both lack face search, which is most demanding.

So, I expect another acquisition of face recognition company.

 S2 might be a nice access control fit for Canon

Seems to me the larger the company the worst it is. Whether it be slow/no innovative new products, poor sales and tech support, or long lead times. There of course is always the exception that proves the rule, but...

Update: Isreali publication Globes reports $90 million acquisition price according to sources close to the company.

Like Axis and Milestone before it, Briefcam has declared that they will be a "standalone company within the Canon Group...

Your estimate of BriefCams revenue and Canon's acquisition price is very generous. I pegged their revenue at $5M... this is a one-trick pony video analytic after all.

How did  you come up with that revenue estimate? 

I pegged their revenue at $5M... this is a one-trick pony video analytic after all.

What is your peg based on?

Mine is their CEO saying on the record to me that they doubled revenue in 2017 and are going to double revenue in 2018, as well as going into detail of specific wins and projects. Unless you think he is lying about that (and my experience is that usually people lying don't go into such specifics), their revenue has to be significantly higher than $5M plus they are going to get a valuation premium for their growth rate.

Also, Globes, which is well connected in the Israeli business sector, reports $90m price

As for the one-trick pony, I do agree that historically their original synopsis was quite limited in appeal but they have expanded over time.

Please, do me a favor, if you are going to make such claims (like Axis OEMing FLIR), provide some evidence or rationale so that I don't need to spend 15 minutes responding to a one-line, no evidence claim.

15 minutes to respond? You are naive if you believe CEOs don't exaggerate when talking to jouralists.  What do you think he would tell you? In the absence of imperial evidence my statement is as valid as yours. 

You are naive if you believe CEOs don't exaggerate when talking to jouralists.

I am well aware of people attempting to lie to me, e.g., see this from this week. I am also quite experienced at detecting signs of lying.

Briefcam also issued a press release with the same in January: "The company achieved 100 percent revenue growth in 2017." That form of direct unambiguous wording is not what liars use.

In the absence of imperial evidence my statement is as valid as yours.

You don't have anything backing your statement, not even a theory beyond your dismissive and factually false ("this is a one-trick pony video analytic after all.") accusation.

I have very little interest in defending Briefcam but I can't stand here and let you pollute IPVM discussions with your one line 'theories'. If you have substance, add it, otherwise go away.

I am not going to do your homework for you John... a small sample size is a poor sample. Look to your own web site for stories of video analytic companies and what they were acquired for.  List the links in this reply... ok, I will do some of your homework...

"VideoIQ was arguably the most successful analytics company and yet was only acquired for $32 million, compared to the tens of millions they raised over the past decade."

here's another one for extra credit:

"3VR's estimated 2018 revenues will be $12 million, based on Identiv's projection of $10- $11 million for the rest of 2018. In past years, 3VR has claimed revenue up to ~$25 million. 3VR's gross margins are in the 60% range, according to Identiv."

If you haven't already I would suggest you read "Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle is a 2009 book by Dan Senor" before I would take Globes report to heart.

Lastly, I don't suppose you are mixing with their sales people at trade shows,  industry events or after hours at the bar or have spoken to former employees where you can get more candor about business.  Don't be so dismissive when you don't know what you don't know.


Your attempt at comparables are not comparable:

  • VideoIQ was sold 4.5 years ago, in a much more negative market for video analytics and with VideoIQ having a modest growth rate.
  • 3VR's revenue was down 50% from their peak and they were going nowhere, ergo their firesale.

Your 'analysis' rests on the accusation that Briefcam's CEO is publicly lying (i.e., their growth is minimal instead of their assertion that it is doubling). You don't have any evidence to support that, do you?

Lastly, I don't suppose you are mixing with their sales people at trade shows, industry events or after hours at the bar or have spoken to former employees where you can get more candor about business.

I don't know about John, but I have hung out with some BriefCam folks over the years, and recently. I think your $5M number is low, particularly for 2017.

I wasn't even aware that Canon owned Axis or Milestone...

Looks like I have a lot to learn, haha.

Andrew, funny and a good point!

I think a lot of people forgot over the last few years about Canon. Canon has kept such a low profile and, unlike Avigilon with Motorola, has not required Axis or Milestone to use Canon's branding, so it is easy not to be aware of it.


What was the point of your post? Perhaps you simply wanted to point out that this was not an exploit or bug, and that everyone should change their default passwords? 

Thanks for the heads-up. This PSA probably deserves to be moved to its own thread to discuss the merits of default password changing.

"Although it is unclear why those particular cameras were targeted, two cities — Yachiyo in Chiba Prefecture and Ageo in Saitama — that lost control of waterway cameras noted they had not reset the default password.

Canon said it could not comment on each individual case but urged clients on its website to change the default password."

The point of my post was to highlight the fact this news probably awakened a bunch of bored kids in a dorm or basement somewhere, so we can expect more attempts to breach whatever security has already been put in place for these devices. I suppose you can take it however you'd like to though, as it's pretty clear your feelings got hurt.

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