Liberate buyout frees Sigma to take on global market

Liberate Technologies says its US$62 million purchase of Toronto-based Sigma Systems will give it the critical mass to compete on a global scale.

Liberate CEO Mitchell

Kertzman Wednesday said by combining their offerings the two firms can offer what the industry is craving. North American cable providers have spent tens of billions of dollars over the past few years upgrading their plant and equipment and infrastructure to digital, for example, and the product and marketing departments are looking for a return on investment, he said.

San Carlos, Calif. Liberate provides open platforms for delivering content and services to television viewers. Sigma writes service management automation software for cable system operators.

Kertzman said the Holy Trinity for cable providers is to provide enhanced video, telephony services and high-speed data, and the upgrade infrastructure has them on the cusp.

“”(The goal is) to integrate this complete solution together to enable the cable companies to define, create, launch and manage digital services, video services, voice services and data services all the way to the consumer, all the way to the television on the set-top box,”” he said.

“”That’s a real challenge for them, largely because a lot of the technologies that went into that plant are point technologies, disparate technologies.””

Once the services can be controlled by the user — including everything from bill presentment and payment to ordering services and changing configurations — cable companies can realize significant savings, he said. Kertzman added the end result is higher customer satisfaction levels, greater revenue per subscriber and significant reduction in subscriber churn.

Once the deal is finalized, both parties said they expect a third quarter close, the work force should tally 700 employees.

Steve Nicolle, Sigma’s Toronto-based president and CEO, said the union is a perfect fit as Liberate strengthens its weakest point: digital video.

How Nicolle fits in, however, remains to be seen. He said there hasn’t been time to discuss his future role with the new company, which has undergone several changes at the top. In late June Kertzman has replaced David Roux as chairman of the board, Don Fitzpatrick took over as chief operations officer from Coleman Sisson who joined the board of directors. June also saw the introduction of a new vice-president of applications and content, and vice-president of marketing communications.

Nicolle said neither he or his employees are phased by the shuffling.

“”I’ve met I think every one of the senior leadership team at Liberate and I’ve been impressed with every single one of them,”” he said.

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