What does sale of Thomson Grass Valley mean?

I’ll miss the joint dateline of Paris/Nevada City on Thomson Grass Valley press releases. In another release this afternoon, Paris-based Thomson announced it was putting Grass Valley Group up for sale — one of the biggest stories here in a long time. Sacrebleu!

Why? Thursday’s  anouncement could have a profound impact on the local economy:

•It puts 300 jobs at Thomson Grass Valley in jeopardy. Worse, these are the high-paying tech jobs that the county wants to attract, not lose. 

•The announcement puts Nevada City’s already suffering tax base in jeopardy. Thomson Grass Valley is one of the city’s biggest tax providers.

•It also undercuts the area’s image as a “HDTV mecca.” Grass Valley Group specializes in video servers.

The sale also will cause anxiety for the East Coast investor group that just snapped up the 60-acre parcel leased by Grass Valley Group.  It figured its tenant was “rock solid.”

The outcome depends on who buys Grass Valley Group, founded as a tiny startup in 1958. Thomson, whose balance sheet needs help, paid $172 million for privately held Grass Valley Group in 2002.

Let’s hope the buyer decides to keep the company —and its workforce —images here. It has a good product line and has been tightening its belt lately. I also admire how it snapped up the http://www.grassvalley.com domain name, at least as a marketing coup.

“Intellectual capital” is often the best asset of any tech company. On the other hand, companies like to merge operations for “synergy” and cost savings.

This is an outcome to watch carefully: A lot more carefully than the guy  who was recovered from the Yuba River with a bullet wound in his body.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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