Vidient's Analytics Acquired by Agilence
Agilence has acquired Vidient's video analytic technology [link no longer available], winning an auction for the technology assets after Vidient shut down operations. Agilence plans to incorporate Vidient's technology into their solutions for retail and transportation markets.
Background of Vidient
In November 2010, Vidient's operations ceased. Originally a spin-out of NEC in 2003, Vidient raised over $30 Million USD of venture funding. The company provided a server based video analytic solution targeted at high end customers. Unlike many of their competitors, they employed a full services approach where they directly optimized and commissioned their systems. Despite the investments, like many of their peers, Vidient was never able to develop into a fully self sustaining business.
Background of Agilence
Agilence was founded in 2006. Its core focus is providing their own monitoring services for integrated video based systems.
Agilence operates primarily in the retail and transportation markets.
- In the retail market, its focus is providing what it calls 'POS Video Auditing [link no longer available].' This combines video recording, PoS integration and Agilence's own monitoring staff to identify and address both theft and operator error. Their sample videos section [link no longer available] provides a number of overview videos on this approach.
- In the transportation market, Agilence focuses on solutions for tolling authorities. It markets these offerings through ACS [link no longer available]. Agilence estimates its systems are used by 10% of US tolling authorities.
The company has received a relatively small amount of funding with the most recent in 2009 for $2 Million USD. The company reports 30 total employees and projects a 30% increase in employees and ~100% increase in sales in 2011 year over year. Currently, the company says they have roughly 50 customers and manage systems across approximately 1500 sites.
Agilence's Plans for Vidient's Technology
Agilence says they will integrate Vidient's video analytics into their solutions to provide more sophisticated alerting and threat identification.
Agilence will continue Vidient's approach of full service, on-site initial optimization of the video analytics - similar to their existing process of deploying their PoS/data mining offerings. Agilence says that in their interviews with Vidient customers, the overwhelming majority of them were highly satisfied with the analytics' field performance and low false alert rate. Agilence believes the on-site optimization was key to this and warrants continuation.
Agilence aims to deploy video analytics on the server that they deploy on each site for their video/data management application.
The company says existing Vidient customers or former Vidient integrators should contact them. Agilence is working on a support program for end users and seeks to build a dealer channel for the offerings.
- The demand for video analytics certainly remains weak. Common sense would have expected a defense contractor or large manufacturer would have been interested and could have easily outbid a 5 year old startup. Obviously, this did not happen. While Vidient did offer a COTS product, like a smart camera, the company did have a number of large projects that should have fit well for traditional defense/security analytic users. One mitigating factor is that so many of these traditional players have developed their own, that it might have been viewed as redundant.
- Re-setting the 'valuation' of analytics: One of the biggest problems in the 2005 - 2007 time frame was that video analytic vendor valuations were out of hand. Companies were getting $50 - $100+ Million valuations - a level that is simply unsustainable given the relatively low sales (single digit millions) and uneven growth levels. A deal like this will help re-set the valuations and make video analytics more financially sustainable going forward.
- Agilence does not have much risk for this deal. While all acquisitions have risk and challenges in integration, given the low price, the upside is significant but the downsides are quite limited.
The other interesting aspect of this deal is having a company (e.g., Agilence) bind video analytics with remote monitoring. Having the analytic provider provide alert monitoring and response mitigates a central problem of traditional analytic systems - having 'regular' security staff deal with an analytic system's inaccuracy. It's more efficient and much less of an operational stress to an organization's staff to have a service handle this (much like is standard with intrusion / burglar alarm monitoring).
On the competitiveness side, the key element will be how well alterneratives work that claim minimal setup and self-monitoring (the OV type model). A higher touch solution like Agilence is certainly going to cost more than monitoring a 'plug n play' smart camera. Of course, the historical problem is that the low touch analytics have worked poorly, especially in complex environments beyond simple tripwire or counting applications. For the immediate future, we think the Agilence model of on-site optimization and remote monitoring will work well. Depending on the relative advances Agilence or its competitors makes, this could change over time.