Interview: Why Mike Anderson is Closing, Reinventing 3vNet
One year after buying Colorado vNet from Russound, Mike Anderson is closing 3vNet home automation business, launching Automated Control Technology Partners; wireless audio coming soon.
Former Russound executive Mike Anderson bought Colorado vNet from his former employer one year ago, but he is closing that business, now called 3vNet, and reinventing the home automation technology under a new company called Automated Control Technology Partners, Inc. (ACTP) ... not 4vNet.
“I wouldn’t say it [3vNet] didn’t work out, because the technology is really very good and we’re leveraging the technology in new product lines,” Anderson tells CE Pro.
The foundation of the original Colorado vNet platform “wouldn’t let us go where we thought,” he says. “We thought starting from a blank slate was the best solution.”
We asked Anderson if lawsuits (allegedly) inherited from Colorado vNet founder Bill Beierwaltes factored into the corporate restructuring. Beierwaltes failed to pay back the city of Loveland, Colo., which had provided more than $1 million in business incentives in exchange for Beierwaltes’ bringing jobs to the area … which he didn’t.
Anderson responded, “No comment.”
A clean slate is just what the industry ordered, according to loyal vNet rep firm Balaton, based in Sterling, Va.
“I think this time it sounds like they just might have a clear page to get to the next level of product without the baggage of old,” says Balaton president Steven Zaboji, who vows to continue supporting Anderson and the team. “As long as I think there is reasonable capital, a good line and good people, then I will make the investment as a rep to develop a market. That strategy hasn’t failed me.”
Indeed, Anderson’s group is “good people” in Zaboji’s mind: “They’re honorable people with integrity and they’re capitalized.”
Rather than bailing on its existing customers – as many vendors are wont to do – 3vNet has been supporting dealers from the get-go and will continue to do so through the end of 2013.
“We’ve budgeted almost $2 million to keep it [support] going so no one gets hurt,” Anderson says. “Hopefully we get that goodwill returned.”
New Products Coming
3vNet really hasn’t sold much product, nor shipped anything new, since Anderson bought the company last year. 3vNet mostly has been in “service” mode, saving all the new goodies for the new company ACTP.
The company employs a new team of hardware and software engineers who aren’t “tainted” by the legacy system.
This summer, during Infocomm, ACTP will demonstrate new products that should be shipping at that time.
Although the new products borrow from existing vNet technology—most notably lighting control, distributed audio and energy management—Anderson says the new company will exploit technologies that the predecessor companies never implemented.
“They weren’t using the technology that had been patented,” he says. “I’ve got 16 patents and only one of them has ever been touched. It looks like I’ll have eight or nine new ones.”
Anderson is being coy about the new line, but he says wireless audio distribution will be part of the mix.
He also says that the new system is even easier to configure than the already-simple-to-program vNet line.
“You as someone who has never seen the system before can have it running and programmed in half a day,” Anderson says of a solution with four audio zones, 20 light switches and a thermostat.
Seasoned CE Pros can install it in less than an hour, he claims.
THE vNET SAGA
Colorado vNet Packs 70-Watt Amp in Elegant Touchscreen for Multiroom Audio (9/10/06)
Colorado vNet Adds Security, Climate, Camera Control to Lighting & Audio System (8/25/07)
Colorado vNet Gets up to $705,000 to Stay in Loveland, Colo. (2/08/08)
Colorado vNet Retrenches, Despite ‘Record Orders’ (11/03/08)
Colorado vNet Secures Funding, Plans Expansion (5/26/09)
Who Would Buy Colorado vNet? (9/26/09)
Russound to Acquire Colorado vNet (10/05/09)
Colorado vNet Closes Again, Probably for Good (12/29/10)
What Went Wrong with Colorado vNet? (12/30/10)
Colorado vNet Here to Stay (2/18/11)
Russound and Colorado vNet Finalize Structure, Ready New Products (4/22/11)
Russound Sells Colorado vNet (4/25/12)
Colorado vNet Renamed 3vNet (6/18/12)
Why on Earth Did Mike Anderson Buy vNet? (7/5/12)
The End of vNet: Owner to Discontinue, Launch new Home Automation Co. (4/8/13)
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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