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UPDATED: What the Hell Happened to Kramer? At Least in the USA …

Kramer6.5

Updated: Kramer has released an open letter responding to this post, which is in the comments. We have added our response to their letter at the bottom of the post in italics.

Jumping the Shark. What does that mean? Wikipedia defines the idiom “jumping the shark” or “jump the shark” as a “term that is used to argue that a creative work or entity has reached a point in which it has exhausted its core intent and is introducing new ideas that are discordant with, or an extreme exaggeration of, its original purpose.”

Has Kramer jumped the shark?

Under Dave Bright’s 26-year tenure, and then Clint Hoffman as the company’s leader from 2018-2021, Kramer emerged as a virtually unknown to, arguably, the third place video routing and distribution company — jumping over AMX, Covid (remember them?), Atlona and Aurora in the process — coming to rest behind Extron and Crestron. But then Clint left.

Extron is still likely number one (in video signal distribution) and Crestron is a definite (but very close) number two, but Kramer is likely not even in the top five anymore. Certainly in that top five, you’d have to count:

Lightware — the USB-C experts.

Barco and its ClickShare ecosystem.

Vaddio with its USB connectivity solutions.

Companies like Visionary Solutions, Matrox Video and PureLink in the mix. Kramer is likely behind most of these companies now, in video routing and distribution.

Since 2022, Kramer has refreshed its logo — I do like it — but the company has added an ambiguous “manifesto” under its ABOUT page that literally says, “We believe technology can amplify the human experience and help people reach their potential.”

What does that have to do with being a video routing and distribution or a control systems company (a market Kramer tried to crack into since 2015 with Kramer Control)?

Don’t get me wrong. Kramer has some amazing people and some creative products — the most creative, however, the company didn’t make themselves. The VIA, from a company called Wow Vision that Kramer purchased in 2021, is literally the last product featured on its website from the “Products” drop-down?!? The full product list isn’t even listed alphabetically. And, VIA is product perfection! It’s awesome.

Instead, the first product listed is something called “Panta Rhei.” It’s a cloud-based AV ecosystem. Now, don’t get me wrong; I 1000% believe in Cloud AV. In fact, I led with it in my 2024 Kayyes Krystal Ball article. But, are you going to build your cloud-based AV infrastructure around the industry’s sixth, seventh or eighth leading AV routing company?

I hope Kramer blows me away at InfoComm 2024 with something new or details on its strategy. Otherwise, I fear another once-leading AV manufacturer may soon take a bow …

The rAVe team reached out to Kramer for a comment as we were writing this piece. At the time of publication, we had not received a response. 

To the Kramer Team,

I wrote an opinion column for rAVe [PUBS] that was published June 5, 2024. Kramer responded to this piece via comment on the article on rAVe, its company site and via email. Allow me to respond to the points Kramer raised below.

The first thing any reader should understand is that rAVe is both a publication and a consulting company. We have extensive inside knowledge about the industry’s inner workings.

That said, it’s crucial to emphasize that the rAVe team, just like the Kramer team, places a high value on ethical transparency. This is a shared principle that we uphold within our Agency and our publications. Our commitment to this can be found in our ethics statement, which you can read here: https://theraveagency.com/ethics. In the first bullet point, we clearly state that no one who hires us for any services can dictate what we do or don’t publish. In fact, the companies that hire us for these services are prominently featured on the homepage of rAVe [PUBS] for transparency’s sake. We also take great care to label any paid content published on rAVe [PUBS] and via social media. To the best of our knowledge, our publication is the most diligent about this in the industry.

See related  New Kramer TBUS Is a Tabletop Connectivity Solution

rAVe has sponsorships and agency/consulting relationships with companies that begin and end all the time. We are working in some paid capacity with more than 120 different companies at this InfoComm alone. We don’t punish companies or write negative editorial content when those contracts end — many of them are temporary, project-based contracts anyway. As Kramer mentioned, the company’s agency services relationship ended with us in 2020, but we can assure you we have not spent the last four years plotting a mean blog post as a retaliatory response. We don’t have bad blood with Kramer, at least on our side. We have continued to cover its news and shoot videos at its trade show booths.

Kramer even won two of our Readers’ Choice Awards in the years since, something celebrated by the entire rAVe team. Those are listed here:

https://www.ravepubs.com/announcing-the-2021-rave-readers-choice-awards-winners/
https://www.ravepubs.com/announcing-the-2020-rave-readers-choice-award-winners/

Most importantly, the relationships we have with sponsors or clients do not dictate or influence our editorial decisions. It’s easy to claim that when we have an opinion that a company doesn’t like, but that doesn’t make it true. Our commitment to editorial independence remains unwavering.

I am sorry to learn that Clint Hoffman’s departure from Kramer was due to termination, which we didn’t know and are not sure should have been shared publicly. As for the point of blending the “younger, tech-savvy generation with industry veterans,” I’d like to remind Kramer (and our readers) that age discrimination is illegal and something that no company (whether in our industry or not) should support or tout.

Kramer also questions how I could possibly know or form opinions about the top five video distribution and routing companies in the market. I don’t claim to know exactly every company that is in the top five. I mentioned two and then wrote the others as a personal opinion based on my years of experience in the industry as a writer and a consultant. Kramer points out that our industry is notoriously secretive about the numbers that would “prove” who is among the top anything — which we agree with — but then also says that it is a top-three “full-solutions professional audio-visual compan[y].”. If the company is questioning how I could possibly know such information, how can they know it? Kramer is also putting themselves in the top-three of a much broader industry category, so that’s a much bigger statement. But regardless, it’s pretty ridiculous to be upset about my opinion statement, saying I couldn’t possibly know such a thing, and then turn around and state the same thing themselves.

I do eagerly anticipate seeing Kramer’s Series 3 at InfoComm 2024 and learning more about the Panta Rhei ecosystem solutions. In the article, I even expressed my hope that Kramer would impress me at InfoComm. I certainly hope they do. At the end of the day, this was an opinion piece. I wholeheartedly welcome any critical comments, questions and dialogue.

Finally, our team contacted Team Lewis ahead of publication in hopes of reaching Kramer. We did not know that Kramer had changed agencies at the end of 2023, and for that, we apologize.

The rAVe team wishes the Kramer team luck at InfoComm and beyond!

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