New Dawn for KIT Digital: Relaunches as Piksel With Interim CEO
Profitable from day one, Piksel has retained KIT's customers and hopes to regain trust within the industry.
KIT Digital's dark days may well be behind it: The company officially relaunches today as Piksel. The company that attracted a lot of attention -- first for an aggressive campaign of acquiring online video companies, then for cash shortfalls and financial improprieties -- has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy leaner and more focused.
Leading the transition was Peter Heiland, Piksel's interim CEO. Originally a KIT investor, Heiland stepped up in May of last year when the company's board of directors fell apart, protecting his investment by steering the company through drastic changes.
Originally attracted to KIT because of its world-class customers and his belief that it was an industry leader, Heiland knew he needed to bring stability to the company. Share prices fell from $12 to $3, he says, and the first interim CEO was overwhelmed by the challenges. Heiland offered a firm hand, a necessary counterpoint to charismatic Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, the CEO who led KIT until April, 2012.
The company Heiland inherited suffered from a significant cash drain, he says, and the situation wasn't sustainable. He quickly cut the headcount by 300 to stop the bleeding. Examining the 15 companies owned by KIT, he saw that not all were synergistic and divested the company of 11 of them. Problems mounted, however, from an SEC investigation into financial improprieties, NASDAQ delisting, and a shareholder class action lawsuit.
Today Tuzman, the man who led KIT to the brink of oblivion, is nowhere to be found at Piksel. Heiland says Tuzman isn't with the company in any way, even as an advisor. He puts a healthy distance between them: "I've never met the man, I've never talked to him, I've never had any interactions with him," Heiland says.
Heiland is quick to play up Piksel's assets, which include customers such as AT&T, the BBC, and BSkyB. Throughout its dark days, he says KIT never lost a customer, which he credits to open communication. "If there's anyone more excited about coming to the end of this process, it's these customers," Heiland says.
With a workforce that includes over 700 software developers around the world, Heiland says Piksel won't need to go on any acquisition sprees; it will create its own solutions. The model now is organic growth, he adds, and the company's mission is to provide solutions for companies that make video their business or that use video in their business. Piksel isn't listed on a stock exchange, but is in the pink sheets. Heiland says the company is debt-free and profitable on its first day of operation.
"We have the wherewithal to pursue a lot of different things and we can do it organically," Heiland says.
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