It might read a bit like an April Fool’s joke, but no – according to a post just now on the Serato blog, AlphaTheta Corporation has acquired Serato Audio Research. Here’s what each CEO has to say so far:
Yoshinori Kataoka, President and CEO of AlphaTheta:
I am delighted to announce the acquisition of Serato. Through extensive discussions within our company and with Serato’s management team, we have been exploring new ways to contribute to the industry. Bringing Serato into the AlphaTheta Group will lead to new synergies and significant technological innovations, adding continued value to the community.”
Young Ly, CEO of Serato:
Serato has enjoyed a 25 year history of success that is driven by a single-minded focus on serving DJs, producers and artists. We are incredibly proud of both the strength of our business as well as the community that surrounds our brand. Today, we are excited to deepen our long-standing partnership with AlphaTheta, accelerating how we create value for our users and the industry.”
Details are pretty minimal so far on what this will actually mean, but here’s some interesting, off-the cuff thoughts about the acquisition:
The acquisition is pending approval:
In New Zealand (where Serato Audio Research, Serato DJ’s parent company, is based) any overseas entity, including a Japanese company, wishing to invest in significant business assets in New Zealand must obtain consent from the OIO before proceeding with their investment. This includes when an overseas company intends to acquire an existing New Zealand company that holds such assets. It often involves proving that the transaction is beneficial to New Zealand in some way.
Pioneer DJ has struggled with solid software (Rekordbox DJ) and Serato DJ’s software dev team would be a very valuable asset:
Look no further than Stems to understand why Pioneer DJ might want to have a more nimble team with much higher user experience acumen on their side.
The blog post hints at ‘new synergies’ and ‘significant technological innovations’. Given both companies’ track records in pioneering DJ and audio technologies, I’d expect they’d aim to launch new, cutting-edge products and features that could potentially redefine aspects of DJing. It seems to me that bringing realtime Stems to standalone CDJs / mixers would be the clear big move.
They’ve collaborated a lot before:
It’s been over ten years since the DDJ-SX, a hardware product by Pioneer DJ for Serato users, epitomized the crest of the MIDI controller fever in the digital DJ world. Let’s be real, if the companies could make a product successful at that level again with their combined assets, it would be well worth any investment.
This might say something about Denon DJ (InMusic) as well:
InMusic’s attempts to challenge the Pioneer DJ ecosystem with their own Prime / Engine products marked a move away from some of their brands focusing on Serato DJ compatibility and instead using their own in-house software. There does seem to be a bit of an awkward situation coming with Rane (owned by In Music) – which once worked in lock-step with Serato.
The individual companies (and platforms) aren’t going to disappear:
The post emphasizes that AlphaTheta and Serato will continue to operate as standalone brands. It seems like this means that DJs can expect continued support and development for the existing product lines of both brands. Of course, we’ve seen that promised before from other consumer electronic companies with a hit-or-miss track record.
The DJ manufacturer/developer industry continues to get smaller (in terms of competition):
We’ve seen time and again over the last decade that the big companies continue to acquire companies and shrink the playing field. This feels like yet another big moment in which the big players are consolidating even further.
For now, we don’t know anything else about the details of this acquisition – but we’ll keep watch and learn more over the coming weeks.