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THIEL Audio Aquired By Private Equity Firm

by November 29, 2012
THIEL Aquired By Private Equity Firm

THIEL Aquired By Private Equity Firm

It seems that audio companies are being acquired at a rapid pace. Anthem, Paradigm, and Martin Logan are owned by Shoreview Industries. Definitive Technology and Polk Audio are owned by Directed Electronics. NAD and PSB are owned by the Lenbrook Group. Audiovox owns the Klipsch Group (Klipsch, Jamo, Mirage, Energy, and Athena). And now THIEL is being acquired by a private equity firm based in Nashville, TN. Lookout Emotiva, you may be next!

In all honesty, sometimes an acquisition works out and both organizations benefit. Other times, the acquirer comes in and destroys what made the acquired company what made is successful. Just look at what Audiovox has done to most of the Klipsch brands. THIEL and this anonymous equity firm obviously understand the stigma surrounding acquisitions in the A/V industry, hence the subheading on the press release reads, "Legendary brand to receive major boost in engineering resources as new products ship to dealers worldwide". We are glad to see them putting an emphasis on engineering, we just hope the engineers aren't told to cut quality in order to increase margins. 

The R&D department will continue to operate at full capacity and THIEL’s entire factory staff will remain in place. The firm will, however, push to expand THIEL’s number and breadth of products. Specifically, they will expand the THIEL’s distributed audio and architectural solutions. They are also seeking to improve the product development process and marketing strategies.

We hope that this is a positive venture for both THIEL and its employees. Although THIEL is a well known high-end manufacturer and has been around for 30 years, they are note a huge faceless organization. Like most A/V companies, the core team of engineers, designers, sales, and administrative staff is pretty small. Hopefully the private firm can act more like a sugar daddy than an overbearing parent. We will be watching closely to see how this acquisition affects THIEL. So far, it seems promising.

For more information, visit Thiel Audio


About the author:

Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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Recent Forum Posts:

monkish54 posts on December 06, 2012 15:29
Calvin Hobbes, post: 930409
Audioholics is not a charity organization.

No, of course not. :P

I'm sure they make profit. I just mean it didn't start as a business, and I don't think now that it is a business Audioholics lost its integrity.
monkish54 posts on December 06, 2012 15:27
Calvin Hobbes, post: 930403
America is not the greatest country in the world. One hundred eighty nations have freedom in this world. America ranks 7th in literacy, 27th in math, and 178 in infant mortality.

We rank number one in incarcerated citizens per capita. Defense spending we are number one and total spending surpasses the next 27 nations combined. Religious beliefs I will leave alone…


Religious beliefs I will leave alone

Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…Do not start ranting…
Calvin Hobbes posts on December 06, 2012 14:38
monkish54, post: 929323
I agree with everything you said, except this.

I trust, perhaps foolishly, Gene has surrounded himself with good people who want Audioholics to be exactly what he wants it to be–exactly what it is.

JA took over Stereophile and slowly the # of recommend products skyrocketed. You ever notice for every bad thing SP says about a product they say 29,000 good things? They pretend like it's not obvious…it is. Stereophile is clearly about making money. It very easy to see that. I don't feel that way about Audioholics at all. I feel like if Audioholics makes enough money to pay ample salary (I hope they all take home ridiculous amounts of money), Gene is happy. Audioholics wasn't formed for profit, but for the pursuit of knowledge. I am confident (and I hope) that if Gene were to step-down as President and Clint were to take his position, the publication would stay on the right path. Clint isn't JA.

If Clint ever says something like this, I'll buy and eat 12 copies of Stereophile!

Audioholics is not a charity organization.

Audioholics does seem to aspire to a higher ethical standard than most. But it has a business plan that strives to provide for its netizens, while toeing the line in avoiding apparent conflict of interest.

I appreciate this website and do find it has something to give to the audio world. Sometimes I think some things are oversimplified in explanations. While at the same time knowing that what information is given does not completely answer said discussion.

Things are not as simple as it seems, but everyone wants a one sentence answer that solves all audio problems.
Calvin Hobbes posts on December 06, 2012 14:29
AudioWorld, post: 929314
The audio business has reverted back to the industry it was when David Haffler built amplifiers and Edgar Villchur invented the acoustic suspension loudspeaker. These brands changed once their visionaries departed and the same will be true of Theil. Kathy Gornik (Mrs Theil) has a wonderful Christmas present from the sale unless of course the equity company has her tied to pay out on their profits over time.

This publication would not be what it is without Gene DellSala and so goes the industry, companies need leaders and product creationists if they are to succeed. An immediate issue for the new investors in Theil, will be who is going to sell their product or where are they going to sell enough to make back their money and earn a profit?

I’ve written and read enough business plans to know that growth is always the first thing quoted but where can you grow? The core American audio dealer network is shrinking and Theil doesn’t have the clout to edge aside Monitor Audio, B&W and Revel in stores that are left. Consumers are buying Emotiva on line from Dan Loughman, a product that is carefully crafted in China to be “good enough” and almost never at risk of being in a comparison audition. Maybe Dan Loughman is behind the Theil buyout or simply just a group of Chinese with lots of money?

New speaker growth is now in Apple stores and dare I say Best Buy and so this means a tilt towards Asian production in order to get down to an acceptable selling price. It’s simply not possible to build an Airplay type speaker in USA competitively. However good the model Theil envisages for this market segment they will have a hard time getting shelf space in the popular outlets and maybe worse there is minimal profit but good dollars if you can sell 100,000 units.

There is no quick fix for Theil, they will probably keep their US wood shop for their core high-end boxes and supplement this with cabinets or systems built in a reputable Asian factory where someone like Revel & Monitor Audio produce. Unfortunately the Made-In-Asia label is very unattractive to the Asian customer however B&W seems to have got away with it so far because they use all UK technology.

The group taking over at Theil should look to history and see that it’s getting harder to make money from the audio business. Ripplewood (that was Mitts company) maybe or may not be making money now with Denon, Marantz, Boston Acoustics and McIntosh but it’s not been a cakewalk. And McIntosh is for sale if there are any offers, Boston Acoustics is a shadow of when Andy and Frank Reed owned the speaker market and I can go on.

Theil equity investors can take a long view they need a replacement visionary for Jim Theil and inch their way back into the remaining high-end audio accounts that survive to establish credibility so they can sell more in Asia. They can invest in new categories of speakers for the Apple Galaxy market but not waste a dime on 2 way 6” and 8” with a floor standing option. KEF brand has been through the wringer but at last with the “Blade” and the new “LS50” they are finding their stride.

It’s a new world today and for Theil brand to survive it’s going to take some very creative thinking, it’s definitely not business as it was and the Theil company must change to survive.

Back in the day it was Japan bashing. Then it was Taiwan bashing. For the past ten years it has been China bashing. When will it end!

America is not the greatest country in the world. One hundred eighty nations have freedom in this world. America ranks 7th in literacy, 27th in math, and 178 in infant mortality.

We rank number one in incarcerated citizens per capita. Defense spending we are number one and total spending surpasses the next 27 nations combined. Religious beliefs I will leave alone…
unemployed posts on December 06, 2012 01:41
Due to proximity, wonder if Jade Designs (Emotiva) might be an interested party.
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