Polycom Acquires Accordent — A Marriage Of Real And Archived Video

Polycom announced today (March 23, 2011) that it is acquiring Accordent Technologies. The acquisition extends Polycom’s portfolio of video technologies and products and enables Accordent to leverage Polycom’s global distribution capabilities. Accordent is a privately held, 11-year old company based in El Segundo, California and has 52 employees. Accordent’s aim of delivering future-focused video collaboration has earned the trust of 1,200 customers who use their video archiving and streaming solutions. Polycom and Accordent share:

  • A common focus on unified communications and collaboration (UC&C). They both work with a stable of technology and services partners to deliver these rich experiences to market. Common partners like HP, IBM, Microsoft and Riverbed will smooth the companies’ continuing sales to Fortune 500 companies that are already using or considering their solutions for video.
  • A tight relationship with Microsoft. Both companies have deep technical and go-to-market relationships with various business units in Redmond driving collaborative work with server platforms including the Microsoft Windows Media Server, Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and others.
  • A deep understanding of the adoption of video in the market. Both companies have focused efforts to understand both the horizontal use cases for video (creative collaboration sessions, large-scale status reporting meetings, and ad hoc video communications) as well as industry-specific uses in verticals like healthcare, education, and government.

Polycom’s participation in the communications and collaboration market has focused on rich media and live interactions, while Accordent has focused on archived video and other digital media. The acquisition will likely lead to rapid accretion of benefits due to the complementary nature of the companies’ focus, as well as the opening of Polycom’s broad channel to sell the Accordent solutions.

In my discussions with Joe Burton, EVP, CTO, and CSO from Polycom and Mike Newman, president and CEO from Accordent this morning, they seemed at ease with the expertise and capabilities to be delivered by their respective organizations — which are both built on a foundation of delivering new technology to market — so I do not expect to see any organizational integration issues as Polycom integrates Accordent into its organization. The acquisition of this focused, successful video archiving and streaming company, with a talented group of employees, looks like a good deal for Polycom at this time. 

The only issue to watch is the reliance/relationship with Microsoft. As Michael Porter (Harvard Business School professor focused on competitive strategies) taught us in the 1980s — too much reliance on a partner gives the partner power in a competitive market. While this deal eases some of that pressure for Accordent because Polycom has a richer ecosystem, companywide reliance on Microsoft can set Polycom up as a pawn in the video competition brewing between Cisco Systems and Microsoft as they both rush to add richer video communications to their holistic UC&C solutions. The joint company should pursue and publicize when possible opportunities to integrate their capabilities with other market leaders from Avaya to IBM to Siemens — and I’m sure they will.