Razer buys majority stake in audio-visual firm THX

Razer will gain access California-based THX's 30 years of intellectual property in audio-visual equipment.
Razer will gain access California-based THX's 30 years of intellectual property in audio-visual equipment. PHOTO: THX LTD/FACEBOOK

Move will increase gaming company's presence in movie and music sectors

Singaporean-founded gaming company Razer has acquired a majority stake in an American audio-visual company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas. The move to buy California-based THX for an undisclosed sum will increase Razer's presence in movies and music.

While Razer, which is based in the United States, is known primarily for its gaming hardware such as keyboards, laptops and mice, the acquisition will give it access to THX's 30 years of intellectual property in audio-visual equipment.

Razer said yesterday that THX will continue to operate as an independent company with its own management and employees from its Californian headquarters.

Razer co-founder and chief executive Tan Min-Liang told The Straits Times: "We want to be one of the world's biggest entertainment companies, so it's not just gaming, but movies and music too.

"It's a convergence that we're seeing, and as things are converging, we want to be there too."

THX, which was founded in 1983 by Mr Lucas, provides a quality assurance standard for sound reproduction in theatres. A THX-certified sound system would play back audio the way it sounds in the mixing studio.

Mr Tan said in the short term, the acquisition will allow Razer to use THX technology to ramp up its audio line, such as gaming headsets.

But while the acquisition marks Razer's move into the entertainment industry, Mr Tan said the company will not produce content.

"We don't do content, but we are the enablers of technology," he said.

"Razer today for gamers is the layer between the game and the gamer. In the future, with the acquisition of THX and the move into a broader spectrum, we want to be that company between entertainment content and the entertained."

The majority of the shares in THX were held by a group of investors, including a private equity fund and Disney, the parent company of Lucasfilm, before the deal closed earlier this month.

This is not the first time THX will have had links with Singapore. In 2002, home-grown audio company Creative Technology reportedly took a 60 per cent majority stake in THX for US$8 million (S$11 million). It holds a minor stake in the company today.

THX chief executive Ty Ahmad-Taylor said: "With Razer, we can now continue to push into uncharted territory while delivering excellence to our customers' ever-changing needs.

"As a standalone company, THX will work closely with Razer, but will also continue to service our partners in the industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Razer buys majority stake in audio-visual firm THX'. Print Edition | Subscribe