Profile: Al Kovalick

Aug 20, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Chief technology officer for the Broadcast Solutions Division of Pinnacle Systems.
Background: Mr. Kovalick, an engineer by trade, worked for Hewlett-Packard for 25 years in research and development, strategy and planning and product development. Pinnacle bought HP’s video server business in 1999, and 60 HP employees-including Mr. Kovalick-transferred to Pinnacle in Mountain View, Calif. Pinnacle makes editing products for consumers and related products and equipment for TV stations.
Macroeconomics: “Foremost on my mind right now is making sure we serve our customers, have a strategy for growth and remain profitable in a tough economy,” he said.
To achieve those goals, Pinnacle has had to eliminate products and plans that aren’t in line with its core business, which for Mr. Kovalick’s division is serving broadcasters.
“We look at what one or two products are really shining. We’ve delayed features and potential products because of economics. [We’re] doing a little less prospecting and [more] mining the mines that are already there,” he said.
Focus: For Mr. Kovalick’s division, the dampened economy means he has put his focus squarely on the company’s VortexNews system, which ingests, encodes, edits and delivers content from one common storage platform. The system was introduced a year ago and is integrated with Associated Press software for writing news.
“That’s a big business for us in terms of our current and future customers,” he said. Five systems have been sold in the United States, and customers include Time Warner Cable and Network News Service. The product sells from $100,000 to $3 million.
The lifeblood of a station: TV stations make their money off of news, and they need quick access to their archives, Mr. Kovalick said. “They want a common storage system that is reliable for all their content, and they want it accessible on their intranets.”
Centralization: The broadcast market is increasingly becoming centralized, with about 35 station groups controlling 50 percent of the market, Mr. Kovalick said. Those groups are trying to centralize their operations from one location as much as possible. To help them, Pinnacle has formed a loose confederation with other broadcast providers to devise solutions that work well together in achieving centralization.