Restructure Done, Sony Sets Sights Higher – on Uber

Photo of Japanese Taxi, soon Sony?

We learned today from multiple media reports out of Japan that Sony Corp. is working on building a joint venture with at least six taxi operators in Japan this Spring. The goal comes in the wake of Uber Technologies Inc. saying that it seeks to improve its success in Japan through a partnership with another taxi company there.

Sony, jumping into the ride-hailing business?… Continue reading

Gibson CEO Turns to PR to Stop Crashing Reputation

Company Rehires CFO With Debt Deadline Fast Approaching

Gibson CEO Juszkiewicz

Gibson’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz

As the music world media continues to trumpet the news of the potential impending collapse of Gibson Brands, noting large outstanding debts and the exit of the company’s CFO, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz launches a PR blitz to try and stem the collapse of the company’s reputation. It is a critical time for Juszkiewicz, as he is engaged in trying to refinance the company whose huge debt portfolio of over $500 million comes due in just a few short months. To try and stem the tide, Gibson released a couple of press releases last week claiming, in essence and improbably, that things are just fine.

Oh and Gibson Brands hired a CFO…or rather, re-hired a former CFO… Continue reading

Housing Starts Take Healthy Jump in January

Photo of home under constructionHousing starts, the measure of new home construction that many in the custom integration industry feel is a leading indicator for the sale of home-making products, such as residential technology systems, jumped nearly 10% in the month of January. This may be yet another indicator of an overall improving economy, although the monthly numbers tend to vacillate up and down on alternating months. Still, the long term trend appears to remain positive.

See more on this latest report on a key economic and industry indicator… Continue reading

ISE Sets New Records, Should You Attend?

Photo from ISE 2017Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), the joint venture between CEDIA and AVIXA (formerly InfoComm) announced this week that the show held earlier this month set several records, including the number of exhibitors, number of new exhibitors, the number of attendees and the number of first time attendees. While CEDIA struggles to pull in 20,000 attendees, ISE tops 80,000 visitors.

With the growth of ISE, should you consider attending? Continue reading

The Forgotten Thiel

Strata-gee *EXCLUSIVE* Interview with Tom Thiel

Tom Thiel at Northwind TonewoodAlthough Strata-gee has loosely followed Thiel Audio for many years, since 2012, when the company was sold by co-founder Kathy Gornik to a group of Tennessee private equity investors, our coverage intensified. Part of the motivation for devoting more coverage to this stage of Thiel, was a growing interest in the apparent deteriorating state of specialty A/V – but it was also fueled by a wacky, reality-show like, “You’re Fired!” atmosphere as principal owner David B. Griffin routinely dismissed newly constituted management teams. With five different CEOs over a five-year period, some with tenures measured in months, the company’s business suffered from inconsistent fits-and-starts as each team pursued a new direction.

This state of constant turmoil at Thiel caused extreme consternation among – first the Thiel dealer base, and when that disappeared – Thiel end-users, many of whom were huge fans of Jim Thiel. A host of audio forums and bulletin boards had ongoing, passionate postings bemoaning the end of an era: the end of the Kathy Gornik era…and of course, the end of the Jim Thiel era.

Kind of like in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, when Obi-wan says: “That boy is our last hope.” Yoda replies: “No, there is another…” Continue reading

King Thiel is Dead, Long Live Coherent Source Service

Thiel Owners Celebrate the News of the Rebirth of Thiel Service

New Thiel Audio logoThe rumors have been swirling around various audio blogs and forums for a couple of weeks now and Strata-gee has confirmed that the service department of Thiel Audio, the only part of the Nashville-based company that remains in Lexington, KY, has been split off from the company and purchased by long time head of service, Rob Gillum. The development is incredibly good news for Thiel owners everywhere, many of whom were crushed to hear the brand was closing down.

Rob Gillum talks to Strata-gee… Continue reading

Gibson Makes Coupon Payment; CFO is Out

Debt Holders Increasingly Anticipate Bankruptcy Filing

Logo for Gibson BrandsGibson Brands announced at the end of last week that it had successfully completed a $16.6 million coupon payment to holders of its $375 million 8.875% senior secured notes due 2018. This news, a seemingly positive development for the company, really only means that they get to march forward towards their mid-year debt maturities – the big event. But, for the moment at least, they are stayin’ alive.

However, Gibson’s CFO has left the company… Continue reading

After a Year of Study, CEDIA Announces Their ‘New’ 3-Year Strategy

cedia logoAfter an interminably long wait of around a year, CEDIA finally announced this week their new three-year strategy. This “new” strategy takes us through 2020 and is based on three areas of focus, in summary: 1) education; 2) standards, guidelines & best practices; and 3) engagement with design and build community.

Why did I put the word “new” in quotations? Read on…

CEDIA’s new strategy: It’s as easy as one-two-three… Continue reading

Old Pro Bryston Partners with Rookie StormAudio

Bryston's logoIn sort of a cross-technology sharing agreement, Bryston says it has partnered with relative newcomer StormAudio to create new products that will embody shared technologies from the two premium companies. According to the announcement, the agreement will enable “both companies to leverage their respective design and manufacturing expertise in an array of new product offerings.”

See more on this interesting Bryston – StormAudio partnership… Continue reading

So How is Amazon Go…er…Going?

Amazon Go storeUnless you live under a rock, you most likely have heard about Amazon Go, the experimental grocery store that uses technology to allow shoppers to bypass the checkout counter and simply walk out the door with their purchases. Within minutes of leaving, they receive an email of the items they left with, and the receipt with the charges to a card of their (previously registered) choice. The idea is to eliminate a signficant pain point – standing in line for the sometimes time-consuming checkout process.

But what do consumers think about the idea? You might be surprised… Continue reading