Earlier today, Logitech announced the acquisition of ASTRO Gaming, bringing together the Logitech G line of gaming products with ASTRO's expertise in gaming headsets. Things are still early for both companies, but I sat down with Logitech G vice president and general manager Ujesh Desai to understand why Logitech paid $85 million for the ASTRO brand.
USgamer: In the press release, you talk about ASTRO having strength in the console space, while Logitech and Logitech G have been PC-heavy. What else does the acquisition bring to the table for Logitech?
Desai: Logitech G vice president and general manager Ujesh Desai: The thing that gets me excited is less about what it brings to Logitech and more about what it brings for gamers. I think both us and ASTRO have had a similar vision, we've just been down different parallel paths over the years. We started primarily focusing on PC gaming and eSports, and really wanting to build super-high quality gaming equipment. ASTRO had a similar beginning: they started way back in the day at [Major League Gaming] with Halo, building high-quality gaming gear. Lots of console gamers have started using their stuff.
I think from that standpoint, it was very synergistic. Having two teams come together that really have this love for gaming.
The other neat thing that ASTRO brought to the table is they came from [Astro Studios]. Since our CEO joined six years ago, he's really transformed Logitech into more of a design-first company, really focused on the consumer. I think that's something ASTRO has done really well and I think that's something we've been doing well over the last six years. That's a cool shared vision that both companies have and that's why I'm excited about us coming together.
USgamer: We've talked about what ASTRO brings to the table, but what weaknesses exist in the brand that Logitech can fill in or improve?
Desai: If there's one weakness they had - and I don't know if it's a weakness, instead of a function of being a smaller company - it's that they've done really well here in the United States, but they just haven't had the resources to expand. Especially into places like Asia and parts of Europe. That's something we can definitely bring to the table, because of our worldwide distribution, the fact that we have our own manufacturing facilities, and our very large operations and sales teams. We can help take that awesome ASTRO brand and help it grow outside of the U.S.
USgamer: Will either brand expand beyond their current focus?
Desai: ASTRO today, their headsets like the A40 and A50 are cross-platform, they already work on PC as well. They primarily focus on console, that's where most of their business is. At Logitech G, we also have headsets that are cross-platform, but our headsets, first and foremost, focus on the PC. That where we really design for.
Having both of those ideas be the centerpoint of our design and the consumers we're talking to? That works really well and that's why we've decided to keep both of the brands. They have a really strong brand in the console gaming space and we have a strong brand in the PC gaming space.
USgamer: Where can we expect to see crossover in the Logitech and Astro lines?
Desai: We just announced it today. Give me some time to figure out the roadmap!
I can't really announce anything today other than that we've done the acquisition. We are going to be one team on the inside. Externally, we're going to have two different brands, but internally we are one team. Those are the conversations that are going to start soon. That'll be the fun part; looking at their roadmap, looking at our roadmap, and figuring out where the synergies are. Figuring out how to do some really cool things together.
USgamer: With the ASTRO brand is staying separate in the future, some are wondering what does this mean for sponsorships and like? Will those carry forward?
Desai: The plan is to have them carry forward. If nothing else, I think it can be even better for our streamers or teams, and their steamers and teams. We get to dive in each other's product portfolio and share those products. If nothing else, it just makes it even better.
USgamer: This follows Logitech G's acquisition of Saitek many months ago for that company's line of flight controllers. Are there any other holes or areas of expansion you feel the company has left?
Desai: The better way for me to answer that: At the core, the team and I are just a bunch of nerds that game. I'm a 46-year old kid that never grew up. We constantly figure out what products we would like to use ourselves and we constantly talk to gamers. We're asking them, "What do you want from your gaming gear?"
If it's something we can build ourselves in-house, awesome. If it's something that we can't and there's companies outside that are doing a great job at it, we're not arrogant. We're totally open to bringing in outside help and going out to get these companies. It comes from being in the gaming space and trying to figure out what gamers love and want.
USgamer: ASTRO has a very strong console footprint. Do you see either company expanding into console areas that are underserved with peripherals, like the Nintendo Switch?
Desai: Potentially. I'm a huge fan of the Switch. I think what Nintendo's done has been phenomenal. They've built a super-high quality console. We love Nintendo and if the ASTRO acquisition helps open some of the doors with us for Nintendo, that's great. On the Logitech G side, we've worked with Nintendo for years. We have a good relationship.
USgamer: Skullcandy acquired ASTRO Gaming back in 2011. How is Skullcandy involved this deal, if at all?
Desai: They're not. The acquisition was just for the ASTRO piece of the business.