The news broke yesterday, March 15, 2022: Zebra Technologies announced its intent to acquire Matrox Imaging from Matrox. News like this, in any industry I've ever been a part of, is often either a surprise or expected. Yesterday's news appeared to be more of a surprise to many. And, opinions were often to either extreme--I saw words like "shock" used to describe the news and heard it described as game-changing. I decided to wait a little bit before commenting.
When I arrived at Vision Systems Design at the end of January 2021, Teledyne's purchase of FLIR was still fresh in everyone's minds and certainly the most recent "big news" that I learned about. The rest of 2021 was relatively quiet, except for Zebra's acquisition of Adaptive Vision. Fast forward to October 2021 when I attended VISION 2021 in Stuttgart, Germany, and I got to see first hand how consolidation has impacted the industry. And when I say impacted, I don't mean that negatively. I'm referring more to multiple well-known brands inhabiting the same booth space.
Consolidation occurs in any industry. For some, it has a good connotation; for others, it does not have a good connotation at all. It did make me think about the recent A3 Business Forum, and how the great news was that automation continues to grow. Automation--now there's a term that can go either way in terms of connotation depending on who you talk to. But, it is automation that drives what systems integrators are building machine vision systems for. So, there are pluses and minuses to everything.
I was able to speak with Sam Lopez, of Matrox Imaging, about this acquisition. One part of our conversation stuck out to me, and that was how there were many things Matrox Imaging was looking to develop but didn't have the resources to start and that Zebra Technologies will now make those resources available. To me, that's a win for the machine vision market and systems integrators/end users. I've seen that situation first hand in other industries I've covered--a company acquires another and infuses resources and technologies into the acquired company, benefiting the industry it serves and the company itself.
As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 Pandemic and all the changes it has wrought to simply doing business, we are likely to see M&A activity increase as companies look to position themselves as leaders in this market. I think if a merger or acquisition ultimately benefits the market then it becomes a win-win despite the growing pains that must be endured.
M&A activity has impacted this industry in many ways. So far though, it appears that it has been for the better. The vision/imaging market continues to grow, and there is no lack of innovation. It continues to move in several directions away from the factory floor and into newer applications that 25 years ago likely did not seem possible. M&A will continue to be a reality. Luckily, acquired brands in this market retain their identity and continue to remain strong--something that often can't be said for other industries.
Comments? Email Chris Mc Loone.