Creativity through tech – in China

Normally I don’t look at videos from marketing as all that, say, “un-natural”.  However, this video of an innovative Chinese school is interesting.  At a time when many US schools are just now recognizing the value of project-based learning through technology it shouldn’t be surprising that other countries around the world are doing this too.  But in this case, it kind of is surprising – China isn’t exactly known for this type of innovation.


► Translation from PR-speak to English of Avid’s divestment press release

Note: the news reports and press release don’t really paint a truly accurate picture of what’s happening at Avid right now.  Here’s my attempt:

Today Avid® (NASDAQ: AVID) initiated a series of strategic actions to focus the company on its Media Enterprise and Post & Professional customers and to drive improved operating performance. As part of these actions, the company is divesting its consumer businesses. With these changes, Avid will concentrate on core markets where its deep domain expertise, track record of technical innovation, and strong brand offer the greatest opportunity for success.

 We have no idea how to address the coming explosion of consumer products like the iPad, so we’re giving up.

“The changes we are announcing today make Avid a more focused and agile company,” said Gary Greenfield, CEO of Avid. “By streamlining and simplifying operations, we expect to deliver improved financial performance and partner more closely with our enterprise and professional customers. Our objective remains to provide these customers with the innovative solutions that allow them to create the most listened to, most watched and most loved media in the world. I’m excited about our future prospects.”

Our consumer base isn’t growing fast enough to support our business, so we’re sticking to the old suckers who have bought our stuff for years, regardless of quality or price.

Avid has agreed to sell its consumer audio and video product lines. The company’s consumer audio products are being sold to inMusic, the parent company of Akai Professional, Alesis and Numark, among others. Headquartered in Cumberland, Rhode Island, inMusic’s brands are best known for producing innovative products for music production, performance and DJing. The products involved in this transaction include M-Audio brand keyboards, controllers, interfaces, speakers and digital DJ equipment and other product lines. Avid will continue to develop and sell its industry-leading Pro Tools® line of software and hardware, as well as associated I/O devices including Mbox and Fast Track.

 Again, we have no idea what to do with this cool-kid hipster stuff like “DJ scratch tables” and “keyboards” and “newer software”.

Separately, the company’s consumer video editing line is being sold to Corel Corporation, a consumer software company headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. The products involved in this transaction include Avid Studio, Pinnacle Studio, and the Avid Studio App for the Apple iPad®, as well as other legacy video capture products.

 We’re not really well known for our video software or anything, so let’s sell that off too.  It’s not like pro software ever learns from what’s happening in consumer-land anyway.

The divested product lines contributed approximately $91 million of Avid’s 2011 revenue of $677 million. As part of the transactions, certain employees of Avid will transfer to each acquiring company. Avid estimates that the proceeds from these transactions will be approximately $17 million, subject to closing inventory adjustment, with a portion held in escrow.  Both transactions are expected to close today, July 2, 2012.

It’s not a “layoff”, it’s just a change of scenery!

Avid also plans to reduce the number of its employees as it streamlines operations, with approximately 20% of its permanent employee base impacted by the divestitures and headcount reduction plans.  The company currently expects to incur a restructuring charge of approximately $19 to $23 million related to these actions and other associated measures.

 We’re actually going to lose around 17% of our revenue by doing this, but don’t worry – the pro market will stay the same forever so it’s OK.

The company’s cash balance on March 31, 2012 was $49.7 million. The proceeds from the sale of these product lines should offset most of the restructuring charges paid in 2012.

We have around six months before we run out of money.
 Good luck to Avid, even those who don’t use your products don’t want you to die.  We need competition in the consumer markets more than ever.

How out of touch is Hollywood on copyright issues?

This out of touch.  The Verge’s Josh Topolsky asks a pretty reasonable question to a big mover/shaker in the film industry, and gets back an “ad hominem” style bashing.  Watch the video.  Know your enemy.

Topolsky reflects on the exchange:

What Ari seems to forget, and what maybe politicians and the film and TV industry seem to forget is the last time piracy was a flashpoint between the entertainment and tech industries, the problem was not solved by sledgehammer legislation. Or takedowns. Or yelling. It was solved by the music industry accepting that their old model was broken, and technologists figuring out a new way to do business. And that gets to the core of this problem for Ari. We didn’t go back to the way things were after the RIAA sued college students — the industry changed.

He doesn’t want to change his business model, and he will do anything he can to protect it — including altering the basic functionality of the internet. Pirating and Apple’s resulting rise in the music business changed that business forever… and diminished its financial footprint. Entrenched companies that owned every part of the food chain suddenly discovered they were just another cog in a big wheel.

The point isn’t that piracy isn’t a problem, but that the movie/TV industry’s solution is so out of step with reality.  Instead of doing like the music industry and offering compelling, reasonably priced alternatives (without ads and warnings and un-skippable content that makes the pirated version actually better than the real thing because it doesn’t include that junk), they want to alter in a basic sense the way the Internet works.  These guys were behind SOPA, ACTA, and whatever else is on the horizon as far as internet censorship bills go.

Force them to change.

Cool HS Media program in CA

Everyone who teaches a school media program needs to check out Western DCC’s Facebook Page.  They’ve been posting TV show intro remakes, and they’re very well done, not to mention that this is a very clever and original idea for a project.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that unlike schools in the “Music Tech Belt” from Illinois to the east coast, schools out on the west coast have been adding project-based classes out of the film and media tradition, with audio playing a supporting role.  With Hollywood so close, this approach might make more sense on that side of the continent.