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‘I made a promise to do it before I turned 60’: David Ross on plans to launch Ross Video IPO

"We've got a lot of tailwinds, a lot of momentum, and I think a lot of potential in what we're going to do next. The market as far as we can see, lines up perfectly with our timing," David Ross tells TVBEurope

As part of the launch of a new brand platform, dubbed Let’s Make it Real, Ross Video has revealed plans to launch an IPO in the next two years.

The brand platform serves as an invitation to customers, partners, and industry professionals to challenge conventional thinking, imagine the extraordinary, and collaborate with Ross to bring their creative visions to life, said the company. It signifies an exciting chapter for Ross Video and sets the stage for a future of innovation, partnership, and ground-breaking achievements in the world of live video experiences, it added.

That future will include the launch of around 10 per cent of the company to investors, CEO David Ross tells TVBEurope.

“One of the questions that comes up about doing an IPO in our industry is, how do your customers feel about that?” says Ross. “We’ve had bad experiences with IPOs quite often in our industry and one of the things that’s different about that is that Ross is 100 per cent a family and employee-owned company. When we do the IPO, we might let 10 per cent or so of that be shared with outside investors, but it’ll still be primarily a family and and employee-owned company. Our focus has always been on customers and our focus all through this continues to be on customers.”

David Ross

One thing that won’t change with the IPO is the company’s management. “I have no plans on retiring,” stresses Ross.

In fact, the company’s ownership means that even if he were to sell 80 per cent of his own holding, he would still retain super-voting rights. “Even if I got as low as 10 per cent ownership of the company, which is not likely and not even necessary, I’d still be able to have 100 per cent control of the company,” explains Ross. “That’s one of the things is wonderful, I’m passionate about solving problems for customers and delighting them with really cool services and products and I can’t be fired!”

The company already has an internal stock market which enables employees to buy and sell shares. Ross made a promise to those investors when he turned 50 that he would take the company public by the time he turned 60. “I’m 58 now, so you can do maths,” he says.

Another reason why Ross has held back on the launch is that he wanted the company to be of sufficient size. “There’s a lot of companies that go public too early,” he explains. “The additional costs of being public can really drag down a company. It can distract a company and also you may not even get a good valuation just because you’re not noticed.

“I’m looking forward to the extra things we can do for customers because we’re going to be raising money,” he continues. “We’ll possibly buy a few more companies but not doing it the way the other companies did it where they tried to do mergers. I’m not a big fan of mergers. I’m a fan of picking up the next cool thing and weeding it and feeding and giving it love, and then tying it into what we do at Ross.”

With global finances not in their best place at the moment, is this really the time to be considering going public? “The question is, what is the broadcast industry doing and at the same time, what is Ross Video doing?” counters Ross. “We’ve been through the dot com crash, we’ve been through the 2008 financial crisis, we got through Covid, and now we’re going through the recession. In every single one of those cases, Ross came through. We’ve got a lot of tailwinds, a lot of momentum, and I think a lot of potential in what we’re going to do next. The launch of the IPO will be somewhere between next year and the year after. The market as far as we can see, lines up perfectly with our timing.”

Ross believes the company’s growth over the 31 years it’s been internally funded will be tempting to potential investors. “Our growth story shows what a solid company Ross Video is, and that we’ve been able to transition from analogue to digital to HD to 4K to cloud effortlessly,” he says.

“I think the other side of it is our acquisition history. We’re working on acquisition number 20 right now. They’ve all really contributed to what we can offer to our customers and the way they all interconnect together. If you take a look at Spidercam, it’s our most recent acquisition, five per cent of our sales. But it’s not just a camera motion system. It ties into how we have our Furio robotic systems and our cam-bots and our robotic heads, but then it ties in with our augmented reality and our Xpression graphics and our Voyager graphics. It also ties in with the way we can insert data into video streams with our open gear product line. Every single one of these things just ties together like this beautiful web of solutions.

“Investors often ask, when are you going to run out of runway of what you do?” Ross continues. “And I say in what market? We’re in stadiums, we’re in broadcast, education, corporate, esports, government. It just keeps going! We just keep adding market verticals. Apparently, with our LED business we’re responsible for a number of the billboards on the side of some of the UK’s motorways. So Ross Video is more than just broadcast control rooms for sure.”