iDeafNews has recently announced on 2/3/2016 the acquisition by ZVRS of iDeaf News. iDeafNews issued a statement:
“Today, a historic partnership is announced between iDeafNews and ZVRS! Since 2010, iDeafNews has been the premier source for current news and topics about and for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. With this new relationship between ZVRS and iDeafNews, we are excited to bring even more empowered access to the community we serve!”
iDeafNews also released a video by iDeafNews founder, Seth Gerlis, announcing the acquisition along with ZVRS CEO Sherri Turpin. That video is below. In the video, Gerlis and Turpin are sitting next to each other, with an interpreter sitting behind Turpin. At the start and end of the video, Turpin signs, while for the large majority of the video, she speaks verbally while relying on the interpreter behind her to sign for her. Gerlis signs for the entire video.
While this video announced the acquisition of iDeafNews, in the video, it was repeatedly stated that it was with the intention of supporting Seth Gerlis as a Deaf business owner of iDeafNews. With respect to Turpin and Gerlis, the acquisition means ZVRS is now legally recognized as the de-facto owner of iDeafNews, with Seth Gerlis operating iDeafNews. ZVRS is helmed by CEO Sherri Turpin, whom replaced Sean Belanger when he retired back in August 26, 2015.
'Z wants to be known in the community as supportive on many levels, and in particular, it's important to me to support a Deaf business owner.'
Sherri Turpin, ZVRS CEO, during announcement of iDeafNews acquisition
Turpin comes to ZVRS from EarthLink where she served as Channel Chief, leading a sales organization with a strong focus on marketing and brand recognition.
Turpin comes from a strong management background, with over 15+ years of experience in the telecommunications industry, specializing in Business Development, Sales, Marketing, Operations and Customer Experience.
Throughout her career, Turpin has been recognized for her leadership, by winning various awards and honors, one of these being the 2015 Circle of Excellence Award, presented by Channel Partners.
Turpin was appointed CEO (August 26, 2015) well after ZVRS was acquired by Kinderhook Industries on February 10, 2015.
When Turpin became CEO, Chris Wagner, a member of ZVRS’ Executive team, commented: “Sherri will bring a new perspective and energy to ZVRS. Her leadership and knowledge will move us to the next level, where our customers are the #1 priority.”
If you’re interested in seeing the press release by Kinderhook, it can be seen below. Otherwise, feel free to skip the below information box.
|New York, NY – Kinderhook Industries, LLC (“Kinderhook”) announced today the acquisition of CSDVRS, LLC (“CSDVRS” or the “Company”) from M/C Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Communication Service for the Deaf. CSDVRS is the first platform investment from Kinderhook Capital Fund IV, a private equity fund raised in 2014 with $500 million of limited partner capital. The transaction represents Kinderhook’s eighth healthcare platform investment and twenty-first transaction in the healthcare sector. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Headquartered in Clearwater, FL, CSDVRS operates two business segments, ZVRS (“Z-Video”) and Stratus Video Interpreting (“Stratus”), both of which leverage the Company’s expertise in video conferencing to provide interpretation services. Z-Video provides video relay services to the deaf and hard of hearing, allowing them to connect with hearing individuals over video telephones or similar devices such as iPads, via American Sign Language interpreters. Stratus provides video remote interpretation services to the healthcare, legal and enterprise markets – providing Limited English Proficiency individuals the ability to communicate in these settings with the assistance of interpreters via video conference on-demand.
Sean Belanger, CEO of CSDVRS, said, “We are excited about our partnership with Kinderhook. Our vision is to continue to provide world-class video translation services to the deaf and hard of hearing population in the U.S. and the necessary tools to let the world hear the voice of the deaf community. Kinderhook’s extensive healthcare experience will enable us to pursue our next stage of growth.”
“Sean and his management team have built Z-Video into a nationally recognized provider of video relay services,” said Chris Michalik, Managing Director at Kinderhook, “which enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals to communicate with hearing people worldwide. Further, Stratus’ market leading position, technology and best-in-class service provide a unique value proposition to the hospital and legal market. Stratus offers hospitals and courtrooms all the benefits of face-to-face translation services at a fraction of the cost of a full-time interpreter. Kinderhook is looking forward to partnering with accomplished industry veterans to continue to build a leading company in the healthcare information technology industry.”
Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Kinderhook. Financing for the transaction was provided by GE Capital.
The CEO of Kinderhook Industries has no listed CEO, but has five managing directors listed, with Thomas Tuttle being listed first. It is not clear which of those managing directors would be considered the executive director for Kinderhook Industries. Searches on Google to determine if any of those directors or ZVRS CEO Turpin had any background with the deaf/hard of hearing community; those searches turned yielded nothing. It appears all of the managing directors of Kinderhook Industries, and the CEO of ZVRS, are all hearing, and had no prior background in the deaf community prior to ZVRS.
ZVRS is not deaf-owned nor deaf-operated, the same can be said for their parent company, Kinderhook Industries. So to be technical, iDeafNews is now no longer a Deaf-owned business; although it’s still deaf-operated. While I’d have preferred ZVRS simply invest in them rather than acquire them outright, it at the very least is encouraging that it is still deaf-operated and I look forward to that continuing for some time to come.
Reactions from the community on Twitter has been mixed, with some seeing this as an awesome opportunity for greater access to deaf news:
While others shared concerns about potential bias influencing news coverages by iDeafNews:
Even competitors seem generally supportive of the move:
“[They had] an interesting angle of an interpreter in the back of the CEO. I’ve never seen an interpreter positioned like that. I’m happy for them, I hope iDeafNews continues to grow.”
– Alex Abenchuchan, deaf host of the Daily Moth, a competitor of iDeafNews
With organizations like CSD, Michigan Deaf Association, and colleges like RIT/NTID congratulating iDeafNews and ZVRS on the acquisition, and general excitement from consumers on Facebook, it appears to be clear most in the deaf sector see this as a good move.
As always, feel free to post comments below. If you provide new information, I will be happy to update this post with the new information. ZVRS/iDeafNews also shared a FAQ addressing commonly asked questions below for your reading pleasure.
ZVRS / iDeafNews Frequently Asked Questions
How will this change the news stories iDeafNews shares?
Everything you enjoy about iDeafNews will not change, but there will be even greater access to the stories you want to see, and a greater variety of programs from different perspectives.
Will Seth Gerlis still anchor iDeafNews?
Yes! Seth is the heart and soul of iDeafNews.
What role will ZVRS have in how iDeafNews creates and shares stories?
ZVRS is proud to support a Deaf-owned organization and will only serve to provide resources and support to create the great videos and stories that iDeafNews viewers love to see.
How does ZVRS benefit from this partnership?
iDeafNews provides access to news, stories and issues relevant to the Deaf community. We want to broaden that access by investing in the community through iDeafNews.
How does iDeafNews benefit from this partnership?
The opportunities are endless for iDeafNews because of this relationship. More stories, more access, more news!
You’re going to love it! We have lots of wonderful expanded news coverage, programs, and exciting stories coming soon.
If I have questions, who do I contact?
We would love to hear from you! Feel free to email us at: email@example.com or reach out to us through social media.
iDeafNews provides live and pre-recorded video news via the Internet specifically oriented to the interests and education of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people. iDeafNews believes that through their news programs, deaf and hard of hearing people throughout the United States and, eventually, the world, enjoy and benefit from news pertinent to their lives as DHH people. Providing news gleaned from all over the world, which is related to DHH concerns and interests, is our focus and our mission. Becoming and staying abreast of news that relates to the deaf community can help develop the informed, well-rounded person each aspires to be.
ZVRS is a nationally recognized provider of VRS services that enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals to communicate with hearing people worldwide. Through its ZVRS business unit, the Company provides videophone hardware, software and accessories designed to enable a real-time video connection with certified ASL interpreters who relay conversations between parties. The Company’s Stratus business unit provides interpretation services to the healthcare, legal and enterprise markets – connecting clients with interpreters in over 180 spoken and signed languages on an on-demand basis.
About Kinderhook Industries
Founded in 2003, Kinderhook is a private equity firm with over $1.25 billion of committed capital and an investment philosophy based on combining senior management and operating experience in a variety of industries with the financial and investment know-how of private equity professionals. Kinderhook primarily makes control investments in companies in which the firm can achieve significant financial, operational and growth improvements. The firm targets orphaned non-core subsidiaries of corporate parents, existing small capitalization public companies lacking institutional support and management-led recapitalizations of entrepreneur-owned companies. By providing access to capital, strategic advice and an extensive network of relationships, Kinderhook has a history of successfully building privately held firms in partnership with management.