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Lars Thinggaard

Milestone IPO? Other MIPS news

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I’m in Orlando for the Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS), the VMS provider’s annual partner conference.

One of the first topic addressed: Will Milestone be doing an IPO anytime soon? You see, an UK-based publication here reported as much.

Milestone CEO Lars Thinggaard said going public is something Milestone may do and it “will be great if it ever happens,” but that the company “had not decided to do that.”  He declined further comment on the topic.

Founded in 1998, Milestone is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It reported 2012 revenues of  $55.3 million 19.5 percent over 2011), EBITDA of $9 million (up 16 percent), and net income of $2.2 million (up $23 percent).  In 2012 the company invested $9.6 million in R&D. In 2012 it had 350 employees, Thinggaard said yesterday Milestone now employs 400.

In his opening address to the crowd—which numbers about 350 and includes integrators, manufacturer partners and folks from Milestone—Thinggaard talked about the forecasted growth for IP video surveillance and how Milestone is set up to take advantage of growth opportunities. He reviewed the company’s organizational set up—which was changed last year to include: the Professional Business Unit for lower complexity systems; the Corporate Business Unit for highly complex systems; and the Incubator Business Unit, which is based in Silicon Valley.

Thinggaard said IP video is in its third stage of growth right now. The first stage was the move from analog to digital, the second was video integration and the third is “video enabling. ... the business optimization processes that video is enabling.”  He cited, as an example, the medical school at St. Andrews University in Scotland, which is using a Milestone system as the basis for a new learning technology system called MedVu. It's a video capture system that the students use to “record, delete, share, bookmark and present video evidence of key practical medical experience in the areas of clinical and communications skills. …MedVu is also being used by the school’s post graduate researchers to gather and analyze evidence.”

Eric Fullerton, Milestone chief sales and marketing officer, said that video is becoming “mission critical.”  Video “adds value to the bottom line, it can be a significant profit generator, companies cannot live without their video working,” he said.

Further, he said that Milestone’s ability to bring multiple manufacturers together “is adding more value to end users than one company [one of those manufacturers] can do alone.”
Some companies try to “get vertical” or proprietary, he said. “We try to maintain horizontalization … to partner with the best of class.” It may be easier to partner with just one vendor, but then “you lock yourself into [proprietary] jail.”

Cheolkyo Kim, president and CEO of Samsung Techwin, gave a talk and then spoke to reporters afterwards. He said that Samsung Techwin believes it can be the number one IP camera globally by 2016, (the company is currently between number three and four.)

Bernhard Shuster, EVP Bosch Security Systems, also spoke to the group about how Bosch is making a radical change from closed to open products.

MIPs featured three panel discussions, all worthwhile: one with camera manufacturers, one with access control providers, and the best of all—and I am not being facetious here—was a panel discussion among five storage providers. Ken Mills of EMC; Duke Duong of HP; Dave Taylor of IBM; Dick Cecchini of Seneca; and, Scott Sereboff  of Veracity

Storage? Yup. All eyes were on the stage during this storage discussion.

It was lively from the first question: Why should the integrators in the audience really care about storage?

What you store is the most important piece of security, said Veracity’s Scott Seraboff.  Duke Duong of HP said “it’s all about protecting your data … [the actual storage] is just one component.”  Taylor said, the real value of your system is “when your first event occurs [and it needs to have been properly stored]."

There was  a lot of disagreement about the value of RAID storage.

There was one uncharacteristic point of agreement during the discussion when Dave Taylor, of IBM, was asked about the cloud. He said that, for some applications the network infrastructure necessary to move video to the cloud is prohibitively expensive. For some, cloud is not going to be the right option. A “hybrid capability is where we see cloud going in the future.” None of the other speakers disagreed. 

Taylor, by the way, said earlier in the discussion that your storage provider should also provide you with their home phone number.

More on the MIPS storage smackdown later, but the crowd did seem to appreciate a theme that Veracity’s Sereboff spoke to more than once: that storage has too many bells and whistles, what systems integrators want is storage that’s simple, easy and safe. 

Milestone acquires Connex International

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11/04/2013

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—Milestone Systems is purchasing all outstanding shares of Connex International, a Minneapolis-based surveillance training, certification and consulting company, Milestone announced today.