Vizrt acquires NewTek

We bought this company to “build something brilliant,” says CEO.

NewTek and Vizrt came to NAB with some stories to tell. Vizrt announced on April 1, 2019 that they will buy NewTek in a deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.

The deal is a killer. NewTek is a pioneer in enabling IP workflows and technology, so this deal couldn’t come at a better time as the broadcast world is looking at making the transition to IP. NewTek’s NDI (NewTek Device Interface technology) has become a standard for connecting systems, devices, and applications over IP to share video, audio, and data.

Vizrt are leaders in broadcast graphics and virtual sets. The company says they’re the inventors of template-driven realtime graphics. In an interesting aside, by the way, Vizrt’s Chris Black, head of content and communications, said the company has over 700 studios using Vizrt’s AR capabilities, putting them way ahead of the race in AR. It was a race Vizrt was running before the current competitors even had their tennis shoes on.

NewTek gives Vizrt plenty of technology to work with, and the combination gives the company a much broader position in distribution for broadcast and OTT and more depth in content creation. NewTek has done more than any company to democratize broadcast and virtual sets making it possible for small organizations to have their own broadcast studios or production truck.

In interviews at NAB, Vizrt president Michael Hallen was asked about layoffs, because journalists love to ask that sort of question. Hallen seemed a little nonplussed saying that it was early to talk about that sort of thing when the whole point of the acquisition was not to eliminate something but to bring two powerful companies together. “We are buying NewTek because we think together, we can make something really brilliant.”

In addition, said Hallen, they plan to preserve the sales channels both companies have built.

Michael Hallen, President and CEO of Vizrt will lead the combined company and Dr. Andrew Cross, NewTek’s president and CTO will be President of Research and Development. The company will maintain headquarters in San Antonio and Borgen, Norway. Black said there’s even synergy in the two companies’ locations. San Antonio is likely to look pretty inviting to Norwegian executives in the dead of winter, while central Texas in the summer is difficult, to say the least. Meetings in Norway will definitely seem like a good idea.

What do we think?

This looks like a great deal to us. The engineers at NewTek are brilliant innovators, but the company has had trouble keeping all the balls in the air as they juggle their portfolio of products. There is a lot of similarity in the companies’ products, both enable video broadcast but Vizrt has been focused on the enterprise side of the business. NewTek has been brilliant at enabling mom and pop operations and mid-size businesses. It has allowed companies to get a running start at technology shifts and we see that as one of the major technology challenges of this generation.