Barco, X2O Primed for Big Future

Acquisition gives Barco new capabilities, allows X2O to expand reach.

When executives from Barco first started talking to X2O Media officials last spring, it was about possibly working together on products and projects, but “it became clear we had to go further,” says Danny Sergeant, Barco’s sales VP and managing director for Canada.

And, even though President/CEO David Wilkins wasn’t looking to sell X2O when he started talking to Barco about opportunities to work together, “I realized they really understood our vision.”

The end result: Barco acquired X2O in March for about $19 million, marking Belguim-based Barco’s first true foray into Canada and giving Montreal-based X2O the increased reach it’s long sought to roll out its software platform.

“Our number one credo right now is to preserve what we have and grow from there,” says Sergeant, noting the addition of X2O has excited all divisions of Barco, who are looking forward to ways to deploy the software platform in its products. “We’ll exchange leads and opportunities and pursue them together.”

Barco’s acquisition of X2O capped a three-year quest by Sergeant to find a better way for Barco to penetrate the Great White North. As the cliché goes, he’s hoping the third time is the charm, after coming close to signing deals with two other Canadian firms in the past.

What’s most interesting is the seed for the deal was planted by a chance meeting between sales reps from both companies in California last year, says Sergeant.

“When I looked at [X2O’s] website, I didn’t have high expectations, but the more I learned about them, I realized what they do perfectly fits into Barco’s strategic intent,” he says.

This deal is about more than giving Barco an in on the digital signage market, says Wilkins, since he sees X2O as a visual communications company, and he notes Barco already has its own digital signage division.

“We weren’t actively looking to selling the company, but as we spoke, we realized they really understood our vision,” says Wilkins, who will remain in his current role at X2O, which is now tagged “a Barco company.”

“We saw the same vision of where the market was going,” says Wilkins. “It’s not about an exit; it’s about evolution. This gives us the resources and the market reach we needed.”

X2O’s customers were largely positive and excited about the sale, says Wilkins, while Barco employees have “embraced” their new capabilities as a result of the acquisition, says Sergeant.

Coming Soon

Although there’s still some measure of secrecy around their plans for InfoComm 2014 in Las Vegas in June, Wilkins says they “should have some pretty big news” during the event.

In the meantime, Barco employees are learning from X2O employees, particularly on the sales side, how to position their newly acquired software platform alongside the typical hardware they’ve sold for years, says Sergeant.

“It’s about selling what you can do with the software and how you can move the content,” says Wilkins.