Razer bolsters audio IP with THX acquisition

THX CEO points to "leadership role" in VR audio as motivating factor behind the deal

By Matthew Handrahan.Published Tuesday 18th October 2016, 7:00am GMT

Razer has acquired the iconic audio-visual company THX Ltd. in a deal that covers the majority of its assets and its entire staff.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it's clear that THX will retain much of its autonomy. Indeed, an official document announcing the acquisition claimed that THX, which was founded by the legendary film director George Lucas in 1983, will, "operate as an independent startup under its own management... [with] discretion to seek agreements with other product makers, service providers and financial partners apart from Razer."

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Commenting on the deal, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said, "this acquisition will allow us to reinforce Razer's leadership in gaming and extend the brand into broader areas of entertainment, while at the same time empowering THX to develop into a global powerhouse, independently."

Of course, Razer doesn't buy such a prominent company to leave it to its own devices. In a post on Medium, THX CEO Ty Ahmad-Taylor said that he, "wouldn't be surprised if we launched a few joint products with Razer." He also referred to the company's, "comprehensive set of intellectual property that we continue to exploit, along with an A-plus brand (in terms of recognition and sentiment.)"

Razer already has a range of audio-visual products - including speakers, laptops and headphones - so in that sense it's easy to see how the acquisition fits. However, Ahmad-Taylor's description of the breadth of THX's business suggests more opportunities to make use of its IP.

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The THX Live division, for example, provides audio for live events, and Razer already has a presence in the growing eSports market. Ahmad-Taylor also mentioned the "crucial" role that audio plays in creating immersion for VR experiences. "As gaming bridges into VR, we expect to play a leadership role in the audio portion of that experience," he said, with Razer's OSVR headset likely in mind.

Whatever Razer's strategy, though, one needn't doubt its ambition. The California-based company has expanded rapidly over the last few years, building the value of its brand in the process. In October 2014, it raised a round of funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion. By February this year, another round of funding - which was "much larger" than $75 million, according to Techcrunch - put its value at $1.5 billion.

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