By Marc Loftus
Issue: June 1, 2003


Several years back, Digidesign, the maker of digital audio software tools, was acquired by nonlinear editing system manufacturer Avid. The pairing brought Avid increased audio capabilities, while Digi gained financial support and increased exposure in the sound-for-picture market.

In the last few months, the post industry has seen many similar pairings between audio software manufacturers and the makers of digital video tools. Apple bought Emagic, the maker of computer-based music production tools, last July, and at NAB showed V.4 of its Final Cut Pro app, featuring enhanced audio capabilities. Last January, Pinnacle completed the acquisition of audio software manufacturer Steinberg, the maker of Nuendo and Cubase, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Pinnacle's NLEs with beefed up audio capabilities in the months to come.

Two more notable acquisitions recently took place. Sony Pictures Digital purchased Sonic Foundry's Acid, Sound Forge and Vegas tools. The two companies had been working together on Sony's Screenblast Movie Studio and Screenblast Music Studio. Also in May, Adobe, which offers an NLE application in Premiere, along with other digital video tools, announced that it was purchasing Syntrillium, the maker of the low-cost, PC-based Cool Edit Pro audio app.

So who hasn't been bought? MOTU and Cakewalk by my calculations.

"These are definitely interesting times," says Jim Cooper, marketing director for MOTU. "Our segment of the industry is maturing and when maturation happens, consolidation is sort of a natural byproduct."

Cooper believes MOTU has maintained some autonomy because it uses both hardware and software. "If you look at some of the other companies, hardware has not been their forte," he notes. "I see [the Adobe deal] as a technology grab, saving them a year or two to get something that they want right now."

"In all of those cases, the motive of those companies that did the acquiring is to improve their own products," adds Cakewalk VP, product marketing Michael Hoover. "Adobe, for example, is trying to stay competitive on the video front. And some of those companies that were picked up needed to be picked up. So it was a very economical way for them to do that."

I'm anxious to see how the products integrate into existing video lines, as well as whether or not their new owners will continue to develop them as standalone apps. Stay tuned!