The Digital Signage Insider

Big news in digital signage acquisitions and IPOs

Published on: 2005-07-27

So once again the digital ink has barely had time to dry on my last blog article when along comes some news that changes my perspective.  When I mentioned a few days ago that "the digital signage industry still lacks a presence on the public markets" (in "Digital signage firm Focus Media doing well on the public market"), I was thinking mostly about pure-play digital signage firms going public, like PRN was supposed to do all that time ago (see "PRN: A Digital Signage IPO Story" from May 2004).  However, I neglected to mention the possibility that a larger, already publicly-traded company would acquire a digital signage firm, as has just happened today with 3M's acquisition of Mercury Online.

Unfortunately the press release has few details, and of course the terms of the deal were not disclosed.  Rumours in the industry place it in the low eight figures, but I'd take all of that with a grain of salt :)  Digital signage news site has a bit more information in this article, where they claim to have spoken with Mercury's director of business development Bob Sullivan. He thinks (and I'm sure we'll agree) that "the involvement of 3M in the digital-signage market is an indication of significant outside interest now being shown in an industry which has undergone only internal consolidation to date."  I think this is good news for the market as a whole.  My only complaint is that 3M is such a big company that we'll never be able to extract how much business they're doing in the signage arena, even with the help of their quarterly financial statements.

And what about the aforementioned PRN?  Well, they had a big news day, too.  As has also written, the firm has withdrawn its registration for an IPO, and looks like it will be staying private for the time being.  This isn't too surprising considering that it has been over a year from their initial announcement, without any of the usual indicators that the company was about to make its IPO.  So, while I'm happy that we were able to gain a bit of insight into one of the biggest digital signage companies around (via a review of the documents on file with the SEC), it looks like Focus Media will stay the only IPO'd digital signage company for the time being.

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