Sohonet CEO Parker Details Benefits of 5th Kind Acquisition

Following the announcement that media collaboration tech specialist Sohonet has acquired cloud-based video collaboration platform 5th Kind, Sohonet CEO Chuck Parker spoke with MESA about his company’s plans going forward.

MESA: How long was this deal in the works?

Parker: We basically started due diligence in December, and it was IBC (September) when we were first approached with interest.

MESA: What does 5th Kind bring that improves what Sohonet already has, or brings that you didn’t have already?

Chuck Parker, CEO, Sohonet
Parker: The two primary things 5th Kind brings are the daily function and near-time review and approve tool that marries quite well with our real-time tool ClearView and we have lots of ambitions around how those products will come together.

Then there’s production asset management. As we look forward to how the industry is going to evolve, with MovieLabs’ 2030 vision, etc., we absolutely believe the ability to manage remote workers around the world who could collaborate on all the different aspects of a production, from scripts to still images to the actual shots on set and everything in-between, will be critical. We feel this is a good fit for where our customers are going in the near future.

MESA: How quickly are we looking at seeing 5th Kind and Sohonet integrations?

Parker: Things definitely do not happen overnight. We’ll unveil some stuff at NAB for sure, mostly about our intentions. Obviously, we don’t have a bunch of beavers in a room coding right this minute.

We’ve spent enough time with the team to see what we intend to happen over the next 18 months, and it’s about prioritizing with our customers, with a lot of meetings with them having to happen over the next six or 12 weeks, as we make sure what we think our customers want is truly what they value.

There are some obvious things [we can do], like how do I watch something in ClearView and hit the record button because the director or producer can’t make it and let them watch it the next day in the 5th Kind dailies tool and be able to annotate it, mark it up, everything else.

It’s something our customers have been asking about for a long time and it makes sense when you think about collaboration: it’s always faster if you can do it in real time, but for the guy who can’t be there it’s still efficient to give them what you did look at, instead of having to have that conversation more than once.

MESA: What about the talent at 5th Kind? Are they coming over?

Parker: We’re bring over almost the entire team, about 20 people. The developers, sales team, etc. The sales team will slot in with our sales team. The ops and support people are great and will be integrated as well.

MESA: What about the 5th Kind brand? Are we looking at 5th Kind presented by Sohonet, or has that yet to be determined?

Parker: That’s probably something we’ll announce at NAB. As you can imagine we’re trying to include our new colleagues in the decision process and I’m certain at NAB we’ll tell the market what we’re thinking.

MESA: Anything else you’d like to share?

Parker: We’re excited. Again, we think there’s a long-term opportunity here.

If you step back from this a minute, and say, ‘Listen, there are dailies and there’s asset management,’ but if you look at the rest of Sohonet’s footprint, we touch 700 stages today in premium locations where we have high-speed connectivity, and the one thing everyone’s trying to get to, that production in the cloud feature MovieLabs has been trying to articulate, is you have to be able to get what you shoot on set into the cloud quickly, and start postproduction from there, instead of the crippled workflow of today. This gives us the opportunity to get there.

We already have the network capacity to all these locations, and now we have the right vehicle to push that capacity to high speeds and put things in the right places, so our post partners in the world can serve their customers, and the studios can get things faster and hopefully save both time and money.