Just saw the news regarding Thiel's acquisition. I have an outsider (and mostly uninformed) opinion that the company was very much driven by Jim's vision and that after his passing, something had to happen to replace the energy and focus he had. When the owners could not find a suitable replacement with their own resources, they opted to sell the business. Any thoughts as to what happens now? I am concerned that we will not see future innovations in the same vein as the past (maybe the will move more downstream to grow market share). I also worry that they might lose expertise which could impact their ability to honor warranty work...
Thanks for the heads up - I can tell you from experience that value engineering and better efficiencies will be a big priority. The first innovation from them will be a good indicator of strategy going forward - I am with you Miles growing share will most likely be priority number 1.
Could be a good thing - they have bought a highly regarded brand in the industry that has played in only 1 category for 30 years that no doubt will benefit from an influx of investment.
The article mentioned that Gary was a long time Thiel employee. I though he was a fairly new employee?
So who will be designing the speakers now? After Jim passed, they came out with the CS2.4SE which is a CS2.4 with boutique caps and some cosmetic changes. Making new versions of existing products did not seem sustainable to me. I figured that's all they could do without Jim, then they came out with the CS2.7. Who designed that speaker, and who is going to design future products?
No. The 2.4SE was Jim's last hands on project. It was released after the 3.7 and bears his signature. It wasn't a big change but IMHO the upgrades over the regular 2.4 (upgraded finishing, aluminium outriggers, caps) would have cost similar to the 2.4 with the better finishings/outriggers.
That said, the 2.7 released after Jim's passing does seem to bear a Jim Thiel trait where a new model starts making a higher range model look obsolete :)
Pops - I certainly hope it turns into a good thing.
I have such respect for the Thiel brand that I am probably a little overly concerned. Private equity groups are there to make money, but perhaps some growth and efficiencies can be gained without negatively impacting their hard earned reputation as an engineering-first company.
It is odd to me that there was no identification of the private equity group in the press release - standard procedure would be to get their name out. Most PEGs have a 3 to 5 year investment horizon. I would take an educated guess that we will see little change in the next 3 months, but should have a clearer idea of their strategic direction within the next 6 to 9 months...
Fingers crossed. In the meantime, any Thiel fans have their eye on any up and coming speaker designers?
While I'm still relatively new to this hobby (7-10 years), it didn't take long to realize that the individual designers are the leaders in this industry. Everyone else follows. Professionally speaking, Jim's passing dealt a serious blow to Thiel Audio. Jim was Thiel Audio.
That said, I think it is a given that Thiel Audio will never be the same. I'm not suggesting the demise of the company, just suggesting that it has to be different because the leadership will be different.
The acquisition of Thiel by a PEG is a good thing; without it Thiel probably closes and locks the doors.
The question is, what direction will the leadership steer this company? Without a doubt, a positive return on investment will be the number one priority. I suppose, though, that the PEG could be managed/owned by audio enthusiasts with more money than sense.
Two comments made in the press release to keep in mind: new product categories and manufacturing efficiencies. Will the new categories take away resources from the current line of speakers? My guess is that the R&D facilities will be leveraged to introduce the new products. In theory, this will allow the company to sell at current prices with an increased margin or to sell at the same margin but at lower prices. Secondly, can they improve the efficiency of the manufacturing and keep the quality constant? Cabinet construction is a significant portion of speaker manufacturing. Do they try to "cut corners" by outsourcing?
Thiel Audio is a rarity these days as they are an American company which actually still designs and manufactures it's products. This PEG needs to have engineering, branding and manufacturing expertise if they want to be successful long term.
I too find it odd that the PEG only identified themselves as being from Nashville. Any information we can learn about the PEG history and expertise will probably be telling.
The article doesn't state it, but (I assume it's the same guy) Bill Thomas (new CEO) is a partner at GKB Capital in Kansas City. AFAIK, they're more an agency/advisory shop than a principal, so the deal is a little unusual. It also makes it hard to know from GKB's track record what they might have in mind for the company.
Stringreen: Please explain why this was a dumb comment? There are countless examples of vulture capitalists, PEF and hedge funds taking over companies loading them down debt, and deleveraging them all the while extracting enormous management fees and not exaclty acting with the noblest of intentions. I'm not saying this is going to happen with Thiel but to dismiss something like this outright is a little foolhardy.
Could be a good thing, old companies need pushed sometimes. As a process engineer i can tell you faster does not always mean lower quality.
I am a big fan of the latest Thiel products (not so much their older stuff). My only complaint about Thiel is how slow they move getting new products out. It would be nice to see a successor to the 7.2.
I liked seeing the 2.7 come out, it is probably pretty good but not sure about the market. It is pricy for a cheap speaker and pretty close in price and size to the 3.7.
Jtimothya, you are right. There are plenty of high end audio manufacturers still in the U.S.A. I wasn't thinking of just the high end audio industry when I made my comment. Also, I consider assembly and manufacture to be different.
Greetings All, I am writing for new THIEL CEO Bill Thomas who is recovering from surgery. Questions posted to this forum will be addressed by THIEL in as timely a manner as possible. Mr. Thomas wanted to make a few key points: 1) All of THIEL's customers can count on their 10-year warranty being honored along with the same high level of customer service that THIEL has been known for. 2) Our top priority will be to locate like-minded engineering talent of the highest caliber who can interpret and continue the innovation and design ethic that Jim Thiel established for this brand so many years ago. Phase and time coherent loudspeaker design will continue to be the foundation of future THIEL products. 3) Far too much is being made of the term Private Equity Group (PEG). The new owners of THIEL are music and hi-fi enthusiasts who have had a successful track record in business. The press release spoke about manufacturing efficiencies...with some modernization at the THIEL factory and new systems in place, we are confident that we can shorten the time from concept to production of new models without any compromise in quality. We will not lower the standards of anything we do at THIEL. The press release also referred to expanding markets...While we are still researching and processing a tremendous amount of market data, it is clear that high performance speakers for design and architectural applications are in demand by our dealers and end-user customers. These additional products will accompany our floor-standing speakers in the marketplace. There are many other new product concepts that we are exploring at this time as well. We are most thankful for your interest in THIEL and for submitting all of these thoughtful questions!
Would it not be a good idea to find someone that can build a xover that is of good quality and the parts count is say, less than 5 pieces. That may help out with the ultra hot/unlistenable upper end of female vocals.And with less parts count it would help with the sensitivity. Just a suggestion.
Or maybe they have chosen to voice their speakers in an unnatual way for the audiophile and not for musical enjoyment. They are not alone in that sound. It the same with Avalon and others.
Last Tuesday morning I received a call letting me know my new amp should be in within 4 to 5 days. At lunchtime, I was listening to some music and discovered that I had blown a tweeter in my 3.6's. I called Thiel and they had me overnight it to them. They watched out for it's arrival and by Saturday, I had the repaired tweeter back. Outside of shipping, there were no charges because it was within a year of it happening before. I explained that I believed it was not their fault and possibly the result of listening to Pink Floyd's, The Wall too loud and I was willing to pay. They would not take payment. I'm not at all concerned with the future of their customer service. If this is any indication, I expect good things to come.