Following our report yesterday of an impending sale of LiveU — one of the big developers of livestreaming hardware and software, used by some 3,000 major media organizations — today the company and its buyer Carlyle confirmed the deal.
The seller is Francisco Partners, another PE firm that acquired LiveU just two years ago for $200 million. LiveU and Carlyle are not disclosing the terms of this latest sale, but well-placed sources tell us it’s for more than $400 million. Carlyle noted that equity for the investment will be provided by Carlyle Europe Technology Partners (CETP) IV, a fund that invests in middle market technology-focused opportunities in Europe and the U.S. LiveU is based out of Israel, and this is Carlyle’s first tech acquisition in the country.
LiveU’s valuation doubling over two years is partly a reflection of the state of media today. Specifically, video is the centerpiece of how content and information are consumed, and its presence is only growing, and so companies building tools to improve how it is captured and transmitted are hot.
Another fillip to the video market has been the pandemic. LiveU will be used to record and transmit thousands of hours of events from the Tokyo Summer Games, which will be more reliant than ever on live video content, given the absence of live audiences for a number of key events.
But it is also due to the fact that LiveU itself is growing and consolidating its position. Most recently, it acquired its channel partner in the U.K. market, Garland Partners, to build more direct relationships and expand business with its clients in the region.
The company has built out a vertically integrated proposition, which includes not just cameras and other equipment for shooting video, but also encoding equipment to send it, and then hardware for receiving and using the material.
Alongside that, it also has built software to compress data — essential for being able to capture high-quality video yet still being able to transmit it — which works using a hybrid of different kinds of cellular, satellite and other networks.
In short, it’s a resourceful system, which can be used in a modular or all-in deployments, and that flexibility and reliability have led to it signing on some 3,000+ media organizations as customers, who have used it across a number of high-profile events (sporting events and big news events feature strongly), as well as for day-to-day video coverage.
While Francisco has made a relatively quick flip of LiveU as an asset, it sounds like Carlyle might have more strategic plans. The PE firm said it “will use its deep experience in the media tech sector to support LiveU’s growth ambitions.” The company already invests in adjacent companies like Disguise, NEP, The Foundry, Vubiquity, BTI Studios and The Mill. It also sounds like LiveU will be used to help the firm continue the consolidation play.
“Carlyle will seek to further consolidate LiveU’s market position through M&A activity and organic growth while capitalizing on the rapidly growing demand for high-quality live video transmission,” LiveU noted in a statement, adding that this will also include helping forge more media partnerships. The growing ubiquity of 5G will accelerate that trend, it said.
“We’re excited to partner with Carlyle as we look to expand LiveU’s global footprint and service offering. This is a significant milestone for LiveU and represents a strong vote of confidence in our business,” said Samuel Wasserman, CEO and co-founder of LiveU, in a statement. “Carlyle brings deep industry expertise with their track record in the media and technology space alongside a global network. We greatly thank Francisco Partners and IGP Capital for their support and partnership over the last few years.”
“Carlyle has a history of investing in fast-growing and highly innovative, disruptive media technology companies and is truly excited to partner with LiveU which is at the forefront of a rapidly growing market,” added Michael Wand, MD and co-head of the CETP advisory team, in a statement. “Our partnership with the LiveU team will allow us to support their growth, driven by a mixture of expanding into new verticals, targeted M&A activity and through further developing their relationships with key media broadcasters, particularly in live sports where we are witnessing an exploding demand for live content. We believe that the ongoing shift towards high quality real-time video content, the cost advantages of bonded cellular versus alternative transmission technologies, and the opportunity to bring live broadcast to hitherto neglected areas such as semi-pro or non-professional sports, provides an enormous growth potential for LiveU.”