VoodooPC Shares All About HP Acquisition
October 13, 2006 12:51 AM
VoodooPC President Rahul Sood
We chat with Rahul Sood about life after being acquired by HP
Boutique PC builders such as Falcon-Northwest, Alienware and VoodooPC are known for making some of the most hardcore, flashy, and expensive systems on the market. Once known to only a small segment of the market, boutique PC builders now have the attention of consumers and corporations worldwide.
Earlier this year,
Dell bought Alienware
, which could have triggered the attentions (and perhaps imaginations) of other Tier 1 companies. Just 6 months following Alienware’s abduction, it was announced that
Hewlett-Packard acquired VoodooPC
We recently had the chance to sit down with Rahul Sood -- President of VoodooPC and occasional
blogger to discuss life after being acquired by HP.
Just to clarify, VoodooPC approached HP, and not the other way around, correct?
Correct. We started discussions with HP in January of 2005. I had face to face meetings with some HP people in July of 2005 as well. After Mark Hurd came into the picture things moved very quickly.
You guys decided to back in touch with HP after Dell acquired Alienware. Did Dell's acquisition of Alienware play any role in the decision processes between HP and VoodooPC?
No, as a matter of fact Michael Dell contacted me directly at some point in November of 2005. We didn't really align in our way of thinking - it seemed that Dell was more interested in "moving their needle" for topline sales. HP, on the other hand, didn't buy Voodoo because they needed sales. HP acquired Voodoo because we derived a strategy that made sense - and rather than working seperate from one another and competing we decided it made much more sense to work together to help build HP's newly formed gaming business unit.
Do you view the marriage with HP as vital in order for VoodooPC to stay competitive?
We believe the marriage with HP is vital to keep the PC industry innovative. HP has killer innovative abilities in HP Labs, and Voodoo can help commercialize many of these innovations in a matter of time. ..and let's face it, the Windows PC industry has been somewhat dull up until now. We plan to change that.
HP is not known for gaming. Are you worried that the HP brand may dilute the Voodoo brand? Will gamers look at VoodooPC and see the big HP brand in the background?
Most people don't realize this, but HP is leading the gaming market in two key areas. First, on the server side HP servers are used by the largest online gaming companies for their back ends. Secondly, HP workstations are widely used to develop games, they are some of the best workstations on the planet. HP did not acquire Voodoo to dilute the brand - in fact right from Mark Hurd to Todd Bradley, this brand will remain high end. We have no intentions of ruining what we have established - and we believe we can keep the Voodoo brand elite and still apply our DNA to the entire HP gaming business unit successfully.
The cool part of this deal is we are answering to the CTO at HP Personal Systems Group, Phil McKinney. HP's entire management team buys into the concept of innovation. With guys like Todd Bradley and Phil McKinney leading the group it's clear that this is a true testament to innovation.
How do you plan to separate HP's high-end PCs from Voodoo's PCs?
We cannot really discuss our product strategy at this time. Let's just say we won't be competing against each other - HP and Voodoo will work together - not separately - to be successful.
After reading through some of the comments from your "Project Vampire" blog post, it appears that several outspoken individuals view that "being acquired by a big fat corporation is a failure on many levels." How do you respond to that?
I say give us time to prove ourselves. At the end of the day everyone has an opinion, and we recognize that. I would also say that HP is a very successful company and they know how to execute a strategy and stick with it. As a growing business ourselves we sometimes experience growing pains - this acquisition will help us streamline our business model which will help us focus on improving the overall customer experience.
There's been mention of several HP innovations that were on display at the
New York launch party. Could you share with us what some of those innovations were?
Absolutely. One product that recently came out of Labs is something called Panoply. Panoply allows us to project a seamless image from multiple projectors to a wide screen with a super high resolution. The cool thing about it is it's completely scalable and it really gives a truly immersive experience. Not only that, but you don't see any lines or transitions. This is a seriously cool concept - we were demonstrating a car racing game with a Voodoo OMEN and Panoply. People were going nuts over it. There are also many other innovations in labs which we feel will improve the gaming experience.
You've made it clear that the deal was made to improve VoodooPC product with help from HP's $3.5B R&D lab, but will you also take advantage of HP's supply chain?
Sure, but that's just an added benefit to the transaction. To be clear, we chose to work with HP because they could help us with innovative products, we didn't choose them to innovate our supply chain.
With you and
Ravi taking up formal positions at HP, will your attentions be split between HP's Gaming Division and VoodooPC?
Actually all Voodoo employees will now be HP employees. The Voodoo brand and our corporate DNA will become the nucleus of the entire gaming division for HP. Our attention will be focused on developing our strategy to kick start some serious innovations into the industry. As well we will strive to create the ultimate end user experience.
I will be taking the position of Chief Technologist for HP Gaming Worldwide, while
Ravi will be Director of Strategy for HP Gaming Worldwide. As stated above both of us answer directly to Phil McKinney (I recommend everyone check out
and listen to his Podcast, it's pretty awesome).
I will be one of four Chief Technologists sitting on the R&D Council for HP PSG (a $30B+ business) - so you may see our fingerprints on HP's entire portfolio as time goes on. No this doesn't mean you'll find overclocked printers with custom paint and windows - but hey, you never know.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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