SVG Sit-Down: Jerry Gepner on T2 Computing’s Acquisition by Axispoint, New Partnership With MPE
The T2 Computing CEO sees the new combo as a full-service provider for the M&E industry
2017 kicked off with a bang for T2 Computing. The business-solutions arm of the recently shuttered Tekserve was acquired by software provider Axispoint and, in a separate deal, partnered with postproduction-rental house MPE to provide gear to the media and entertainment (M&E) marketplace.
At the center of both deals was Jerry Gepner, who will stay on as CEO of T2 Computing following its acquisition by Axispoint. He has overseen the provider of computing, storage, networking, and media hardware and software since its launch in 2015 (he was named CEO of Tekserve in January 2014). However, this is just the latest stop along a career path that has included stops as CEO of Vitec Group’s services division, president of National Mobile Television (NMT), EVP for Fox Sports, co-founder/COO of Sportvision, and director of production services for CBS Sports.
The five-time Emmy Award winner and owner of 11 U.S. patents in media technology, sat down with SVG to discuss the Axispoint acquisition, the partnership with MPE, and where he sees the M&E industry headed in the near future.
Why does the Axispoint acquisition make sense for T2 Computing?
There are some deals that happen because they can, and there are some deals that happen because they should. This falls into the latter case. Axispoint is a well-established software-development and consulting firm in the media space; we are an established product reseller with a strong professional-services group designed to support those products and design solutions. So, virtually overnight, we have become a complete product-and-services entity focused on the media and entertainment sector.
How do you believe the combined entity will better serve the M&E Industry?
I think, in large part, the industry has been forced to piece solutions together from multiple providers: first, it’s hardware-system design, then it’s procurement, and then it’s support for the hardware you just bought. If you’re putting in place a MAM [media-asset–management system}, oftentimes you’re buying the MAM from somebody but hiring a separate consultant to configure it. At the end of the day, you are having to manage five companies to manage the transition or expansion of your digital assets. Anybody who has ever had to manage that number of vendors for one project can tell you about the sleepless nights and the hair they lost. And then the finger-pointing starts: one vendor does something and blames it on the other.
However, we have created a single company to take you from beginning to end under one roof, including long-term support for both the hardware and the software.
Right now, you have an entire industry searching for — and racing toward — a truly solid model for managing their digital assets. Everybody has a slightly different take on it, but everybody is trying to get to the point where their assets are universally available with solid rights management and multiple distribution channels. And that is very complicated, whether it’s storage and archiving or it’s asset management. So [Axispoint CEO] Dan DiSano and I realized pretty quickly that, by combining the two companies, we can create an organization that serves those needs.
How did this deal come about, and when did Axispoint and T2 become aware of one another?
We really got to know them about a year and a half ago when we did a major project for a broadcast network that involved the deployment of a MAM. At T2, we do not have MAM developers in-house, so we brought in Axispoint because they have expertise in that area. Everybody got along very well. That started the relationship, and, when the opportunity came and the ownership of T2 and Tekserve decided that they would like to move on, Axispoint was a natural choice.
For the media and entertainment industry, we think the value proposition is really powerful. Every customer we talked to identified points of pain that we can help with now as opposed to the piecemeal approach. We can take it from beginning to end. And it also gives them a single vendor to take ownership of the project, so there’s no finger-pointing between multiple vendors.
When you look at our respective power alleys, we are so complementary. The same goes for Dan and me: I have a highly technical background, and he has a very strong financial background. When you put us together, we think, it’s going to be a great team. We both know how to build businesses, and we agree on virtually every point in terms of strategy — and so do groups of senior managers in both companies.
Why has T2 Computing teamed up with MPE, and what are your goals for the partnership?
This is a deal that MPE CEO Neal Pilzer and I started talking about many months ago, and I’m very excited about it because it means we will have a legitimate rental business — which is something I have a lot of experience in [at Vitec Group]. Tekserve and, by association, T2 had been in the computer-rental business for many years but primarily on the retail side when the Tekserve store was open. We expanded that to a B2B rental business, but it was strictly for Apple computers and accessories.
Neil and I have known each other for many years. We started talking about what a combined offering would look like, and it made a lot of sense. MPE has [equipment] that, frankly, we would have loved to have been able to offer to our customers [but] never had in our rental stock. And we had equipment that MPE had wanted to offer but never had the inventory. So what we did is combine all of our Apple products with all of MPE’s broadcast equipment and services. We’re now able to go to market with [rental offerings] ranging from one laptop to 500 iPads to 100 iMacs to Avid editing systems to finishing systems — the whole gamut.”
MPE has a sterling reputation when it comes to postproduction equipment, support, and workflows. Here in New York, they operate their own fleet of delivery vehicles and provide 24/7/365 support. They’re an obvious partner for us, and we’re very lucky to have been able to work it out.