Sibelius UK Office Closes : Avid Selling Consumer Businesses

On July 2, 2012, Avid Technology announced it is divesting its consumer businesses and streamlining operations. The company will focus on its Media Enterprise and Post & Professional division. Avid will continue to develop and sell their Pro Tools® line of software and hardware, as well as some associated I/O devices such as Mbox and Fast Track.

The company’s “facility footprint” is also being reduced. The Sibelius headquarters in the UK will be closed.

As part of the restructuring, Avid will reduce the number of its permanent employees base by approximately 20%. As part of the transactions, certain employees of Avid will transfer to each acquiring company.

The company’s consumer audio products are being sold to inMusic, the parent company of Akai Professional, Alesis and Numark.

Avid Technology’s headquarters are in Burlington, MA, USA.

Gary G. Greenfield, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Avid Technology Inc. since December 19, 2007 and its President since May 2008 will continue serving his executive contract, which has a term of five years. According to the 2007 SEC filing, this executive agreement shall be extended in the event of a change-in-control of the Company or a potential change-in-control of the Company occurring in 2012.

Effective July 2, 2012, Kirk E. Arnold will cease to serve as the Company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO).

On December 12, 2011, one employee of Avid wrote an anonymous review on the website Glass Door prophetically entitled “Stay Away and / or Plan Your Exit Strategy“:

“To the Board of Directors: employees assume you are looking to dissolve Avid and sell the company off in bits and pieces. It’s been rumored for years, it’s the buzz throughout the industry right now thanks to the mess you’ve allowed to happen internally…”

This is a sad day for the excellent team of employees at Sibelius, many of whom have been with the company since it was founded in 1993 by Ben and Jonathan Finn.

The implications of how this will ultimately affect these employees and also end users of Sibelius are not yet clear.

Sibelius was purchased by Avid in 2006 for $23m cash (£12.2m).


UPDATE : July 7, 2012


Avid’s VP of Audio Product & Solutions, Martin Kloiber, posted an open letter on the Avid community forum which says, in part:

“The (UK) office closing is part of Avid’s larger strategic reorganization, and while it does impact members of the Sibelius team, we’d like to stress that this should not in any way be considered a diminishment in our commitment to Sibelius.”

Read the full letter and add a comment in response here, or you can email directly to community_feedback@avid.com.


UPDATE : August 21, 2012

AVID : FINANCIAL

  1. Annual Reports
  2. Key Executive Salaries
  3. Stock Valuation (5 year overview)

PRESS RELEASES :

  1. Avid Technology to Expand Product Engineering Lab in Kyiv, Ukraine (11/29/11)
  2. Avid Press Release
  3. inMusic Press Release (PDF)
  4. Avid Technology Company Presentation 7/1/12 (4.3MB PDF)

NEWS ARTICLES :

  1. Arts Journal.com
  2. Wall Street Journal
  3. Reuters

DISCUSS : SIBELIUS FORUM

  1. Another round of musical chairs…
  2. Avid and Sibelius
  3. Avid requesting feedback on Sibelius UK closure
  4. Avid selling off Sibelius?
  5. Daniel Breaks the Radio Silence on SibeliusBlog
  6. On the closure of the office of England and the relation-Avid Sibelius
  7. Sacked Sibelius Team to be Replaced in Ukraine
  8. Save Sibelius – Crisis
  9. Sibelius London Office to close
  10. Sibelius UK to close?
DISCUSS : FINALE FORUM
  1. Recent Avid Events… (MakeMusic OT?)
  2. Sibelius UK closure is confirmed – killed by US owners on the 4th of July

DISCUSS : AVID

  1. Avid on Facebook
  2. Save Sibelius Page on Facebook
  3. Contact Avid’s Board of Directors (board member list here)
  4. Damage Control Statement to Sibelius users by Martin Kloiber of Avid

AIR Software Group, Akai Professional, Alesis, Alto Professional, ION Audio, M-Audio, MixMeister, Numark, Sonivox

(9) Comments

9 thoughts on “Sibelius UK Office Closes : Avid Selling Consumer Businesses


  1. Unbelievably shortsighted, wanton vandalism of the world’s most beloved scorewriter. Cutting costs is the losers’ way of improving profits. The winners’ way is to go out and reinvent product with innovation and new sales frontiers. When Avid took over Sibelius in 2006 it was worth $23 million, now they’re shutting it down.

    Why not consider floating Sibelius as a separate company to sell its shares, or relocating the office to cut costs, or allowing employees to work from home? If there are problems with the product, then I would prefer to see these solved by these kinds of methods than merely erasing the product. However as a longstanding Sibelius user, it seems to me the problems are not with the product, they’re with the company.


  2. I’m with Derek Williams 100%. On the face of it, this is shockingly bad behavior from Avid – pulling the rug out from both the Sibelius team and its customers. I would like to hear something concrete from Avid regarding future plans for Sibelius, the world’s best music notation program. Or as Derek suggests, let it become a separate company again.


  3. Derek Williams says “When Avid took over Sibelius in 2006 it was worth $23 million, now they’re shutting it down.”

    Shutting it down?

    Where did he get that from? They closed an office. Avid point person in the US says that the London thing was a matter of real estate, and that nothing has changed about Avid’s commitment to and support of Sibelius as an Avid product.

    No connection with the sale of M-Audio to NuMark, now inMusic, just a sheer timing coincidence.


  4. Sibelius UK is the only office left on planet Earth. They just sacked the development team. Sibelius used to be active in US, Japan and Australia in addition to its UK home. Since the takeover by Avid, these offices have one by one closed, and the staff decimated. Now they have knocked off the last post. It’s clear they intend to retire the product. Once again I will be faced with learning yet another application, or keeping a fourth computer just to keep Sibelius projects alive.

    This is a replay of old history, The application Composers’ Mosaic was left to die on the roadside by its progenitors, Mark of the Unicorn, leaving me in the lurch with hundreds of scores that no longer work in the current Apple flagship OS X. Likewise the Opcode company, deliberately assassinated by its purchasers, Gibson Guitars, and the roadkill was never taken over and so all those libraries and projects now lie fallow unless one is prepared to do what I was forced to, keep three computers with different OS for every time one needs to revisit those commissions. In neither case did the companies admit they were retiring their own products.

    As for what Avid says, that public posturing is entirely to be expected. I clearly recall a certain US president saying “read my lips, no new taxes”.
    I can only hope that Avid opt for a public sale, or separate a float for a standalone Sibelius corp so a consortium of investors with conscience and imagination can wrest it loose from them.

    And as for Avid optimising their resources, how optimal is CEO Gary Greenfield’s salary increase from $1.2 million in 2009 to a staggering $4.8 million in 2011? Paying one man an extra $3.6 million to preside over the destruction of a conspicuously successful UK enterprise, with all the human costs inflicted upon its unquestionably loyal employees is beyond sickening. If Mr Greenfield could only learn to live within his means, that might start setting a better example to others struggling to live within theirs.

  5. It’s an economic decision. If AVID has too much loss in SIBELIUS, it’s logical to sell this software. Closing an office means not that SIBELIUS is dying. Someone will buy the software and continue developement. Its only logical and I do not understand any hysterical reaction on that. That’s how the system works!


  6. This “Facilities Footprint Reduction” wouldn’t be nearly as big a deal if Avid and Sibelius were in the same country. Some of the current Sibelius employees would be let go anyway in a downsize of this magnitude, but if both were in the US, the key programmers and people that Avid *needs* to keep for Sibelius to survive under the Avid banner (like Daniel Spreadbury and the core group of programmers) would at least have the option to move with the company – presumably to Burlington, MA, if, in fact, Avid plans to establish its new base of operations for Sibelius at the same location as the parent company.

    Even if invited, a move out of the UK isn’t going to be a viable option for most if not all of the current employees. Avid will basically need to restart with Sibelius from scratch, unless they convince their key programmers currently in the UK to work from home. HP did this with segments of their workforce during their recent restructuring, and managed to stay upright. But, certainly, the “think tank” energy that historically has come from the best and brightest collaborating in a workshop environment goes away with this strategy – HP has meetings where they fly their “work from home” people to some central meeting place, but the company can only afford to do this a few times a year, so the company loses the benefit of the instant collaboration offered in a shop environment. Sibelius already has a fairly long production cycle, and it would seem logical that either the length of the production cycle would stretch out even further, or product quality will suffer to meet the same production cycle, or both.

    Let’s face it, notation software is a niche market. As a small company (in particular prior to being acquired by Avid) Sibelius innovated and was able to respond quickly to its competition. For example, Sibelius raised the bar for notation software with innovative features like Dynamic Parts. Further removing any autonomy Sibelius might have had by integrating it further into the larger corporate framework means by definition less innovation.

    All large companies suffer from this same problem. The bigger the bureaucracy, the slower the corporate wheels turn, and the more innovation is stifled – the approval process at every step is more complicated because there is more middle management running interference. As an example, consider all of the wonderfully innovative small companies and products acquired by Microsoft over the years. The innovation and investment the employees of these small companies bring along with them should have a positive effect on the new owner, but it typically does not. Usually what happens is that the product, innovation and enthusiasm are simply diluted into the new collective; frequently, only the product or part of the company that was of particular interest gets saved, or is cannibalized to serve some new purpose (Direct -X / Active – X is an example of a product that ultimately became something different than its original designers envisioned after being absorbed into Microsoft).

    So, as always, it is a tradeoff. But in this case, because the product is so specialized, and because of the international factor, and because the people who are currently associated with Sibelius UK have mastered a unique mix of skills that won’t be easy to replace, the wrong decision by Avid’s board of Directors about how best to allow Sibelius to thrive in Avid’s current corporate scheme could mean the end of Sibelius.


  7. Historically, I believe Igor was much earlier with implementing Dynamic Parts in a music notation program.


  8. >>Historically, I believe Igor was much earlier with implementing Dynamic Parts in a music notation program.

    Yes, that is correct. In fact, if you want to really want to give credit where credit is due, Mosaic by Mark of the Unicorn on Macintosh was the first notation program to integrate score and parts in the same file.

    But I think Sibelius deserves credit for being the first to bring integrated score and parts to a professional mass audience. Igor was never able to achieve the popularity of Sibelius or Finale, although they were forward thinking with a lot of professional level features, like integrated parts, and more esoteric features like an expanded number of meta fields for information like Opus and ISBN numbers, movement number, publisher and so forth.

    Igor was more similar in many ways to Finale and Sibelius than Mosaic, as it offered a true professional level desktop publishing environment for music. Mosaic was extremely efficient; a 100 bar orchestral score had a file size of only about 20k, but there wasn’t much in the way of control of things like fonts, staff size or punctuation (spacing).

    ~ robert


  9. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express opinions on this forum. I sincerely hope it makes a difference.

    My purpose in writing is help preserve the life and (successful) future of a really spectacular music notation program. My hope is to prevent Sibelius from becoming neglected, ruined or extinct. Let me explain why closing the UK Sibelius office and thereby shutting down the Sibelius development team is a bad idea.

    As a Nashville composer, arranger, session keyboardist, and college professor at Belmont University, I use nearly equal parts of music notation and DAW software on a daily basis. As a beta tester for the current version of Sibelius 7 and previous versions 3, 5 and 6, I am deeply concerned about the decision to close the Sibelius UK office. I feel that Daniel Spreadbury and his team are the most valuable, dedicated, articulate and talented group of developers currently on your payroll.

    Please allow me to drivel for a moment.

    When Avid (then Digidesign) purchased Sibelius in 2006, I perceived this to be a good idea. At that time, Pro Tools was the only remaining DAW on the market which still lacked any kind notation or scoring features. When the Sibelius notation engine was integrated into Pro Tools 8, I rejoiced. As new versions of Pro Tools 9 and 10 were released, it became apparent that Avid was not genuinely committed to a polished interface and workflow, other than just the basic features necessary for notation in Pro Tools. This is most evident when compared to similar functions in Digital Performer, Logic, or even Cubase.

    On the positive side, there has never been (nor apparently will be) a music notation program which duplicates the GUI experience of Sibelius. Sibelius came closest in advancing the evolutionary process of composing and arranging by easily transforming the workflow process from pencil and paper to the computer. With last week’s announcement, my first thought was that I would eventually be forced to go back to Finale. I have already heard similar cries from fellow composers and engravers. I take no comfort in a thought which makes me so nauseated.

    I am sure that in your world, closing down the UK office of Sibelius makes a certain level of financial sense. We are all very aware of the bottom line these days. That is a financial reality of the times. And if you think about it, most rational people have no problem with a company or corporation making money, especially when it delivers great products. Like Apple. (I am aware of the previous spat between Steve Jobs and Digi.) Please consider however that the results of your decision will in the long term kill off the creative potential of this notation program and squander the rest of the market share you have worked so diligently to obtain over the last 6 years.

    Moreover, closing off the UK Sibelius office would be silencing forever the most valuable, talented and visionary brain-trust needed to advance your market share. Companies like Make Music (Finale) are already laughing at us now. I have proudly promoted Sibelius to mocking Finale users and been laughed at by members of you own Digidesign team back in 2000 while suggesting that a notation editor might be a good idea for implementation in Pro Tools. How ironic. This also reminds me of the time when Mark of the Unicorn stopped developing Composer’s Mosaic for OS X in the late 1990′s. While many of those users happily migrated to Sibelius, do you really want the same thing to happen to you in reverse?

    I work professionally with many Pro Tools engineers, producers and songwriters who can’t read a note of music. Many of those haven’t even heard of Sibelius. While all of those people consider Pro Tools an industry standard, the very same group of people are very weary of Avid’s overall approach to product development and really despise their customer service “middle-finger” experiences.

    Since good PR has never historically seemed to be Avid’s strong suit, in the final analysis, the consequences of this decision are going to hurt the very bottom line you’re trying to preserve. This decision has now permanently compromised any kind of positive relationship between Sibelius and Avid.

    Sincerely,

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