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A Big Bet

What SnapAV’s acquisition of Control4 means for the future of our channel.

The recent news of SnapAV’s acquisition of Control4 sent shockwaves through the industry. There’s been no shortage of M&A activity in our channel over the last couple of years, but nothing quite on the scale of this one. As the final details and regulatory approval are ironed out, many are asking what the blockbuster deal means for the industry.

It is natural to focus on the potential for fallout in the months ahead. How will current product lines be affected? What impact will this have on future business? What about support for existing deployments? These are all, of course, valid questions. But they should not come at the expense of a discussion about the significant long-term possibilities of this deal.

Related: Speculating on the Control4/SnapAV Merger

The joining of these two companies has the potential to dramatically alter the professional home technology channel. The synergies between them are clear. Both are well-established. Both have been vocal and steadfast in their commitment to the professional channel, eschewing straight-to-consumer offerings. Both are committed to driving continued growth, efficiency, and profits to their dealers. And both will gain significant upside from joining forces.

SnapAV has long been on a mission to become a true one-stop shop for home technology pros. The acquisition of Control4 allows them to plug what has, to date, been a gaping hole in this strategy — the control system. Not only does Control4 bring a robust set of existing solutions to the fold, but also an extensive array of product and software development resources. Pair these core competencies with those of SnapAV — dealer centricity, speed to market, leading industry e-commerce, and the massive financial backing of their parent company, Hellman & Friedman — and you have a potent combination.

Make no mistake, however. The teams at SnapAV and Control4 have their work cut out for them. Integrating companies following an acquisition is an inherently difficult process. In the months ahead, countless difficult decisions will have to be made, each of which will impact employees, dealers, and customers alike. In the end, there will be winners and losers. But given Control4 and SnapAV’s respective track records, there’s no reason to assume the process won’t be handled with deference to those affected. In an email to their dealers, Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn states that the company will, “(1) aim for seamless transitions, (2) support current products in the field, and (3) look to offer products that will be more compelling and easier to install and support.

The smart home as a whole has seen unprecedented growth and evolution over the last five to 10 years. The increased awareness this has created is driving more consumers into the market, many of whom are seeking professional guidance as they rapidly become disillusioned by the false promise of DIY. Many dealers are opting to mindfully observe these trends while they keep their focus exclusively on the high end and/or grow wallet share through expansion into new categories.

But others are seeking strategies to scale their businesses by tapping into this growing market or by streamlining their operations within the context of their current target market. For these dealers, the combination of SnapAV and Control4 will offer an attractive option. Success at scale requires one thing above all — efficiency. And that’s what SnapAV’s acquisition of Control4 is all about, both on the dealer side (a virtual one-stop shop) and on the supplier side (pooling of talent, resources, and R&D efforts).

Related: Snap4 from a Crestron Dealer Perspective

The number of mergers and acquisitions that have recently taken place in the CEDIA channel is a sure sign of a maturing industry. Among all of the M&A activity, however, SnapAV’s acquisition of Control4 stands out. The combination of hardware, software, services, and distribution SnapAV/Control4 can provide represents a new breed — not just a provider, but a platform for growing the channel.

Only time will tell what this merger ultimately looks like and what impact it has on the growth of this channel. But one thing is for sure: the move represents a bold vote of confidence in the health and long-term potential of the professional home technology channel.