On Tuesday, peripheral maker Logitech announced the acquisition of the premium gaming headset and audio hardware company Astro Gaming in a deal worth $85 million in cash. The announcement came as a surprise for many, considering how Logitech already has a strong presence in the gaming and esports communities with the Logitech G brand, which includes its own line of gaming headsets.
“We’ve been fans of Astro for a while, and you could even call us ‘frenemies’ because we’ve been friends and enemies,” Ujesh Desai, vice president and general manager of Logitech G, told AListDaily while explaining what led to the acquisition. “They make headsets and we make headsets, but they don’t make keyboards and mice, so we’ve always given those things to them to use with streamers and at their booths. So, we’ve had a kind of partnership with them for a while even though we’ve competed with them.”
Altough the companies might seem like rivals , upon deeper inspection, the two brands ended up complementing each other. “[Astro] is primarily in the console space, even though their headsets are multiplatform and work on the PC as well,” said Desai. “Our PC headsets also work on consoles, but if you look at what we’ve done, Logitech G is mostly focused on PC gaming. Our headsets are very much targeted toward the PC gaming space, whereas Astro—first and foremost—has been focused on the console gaming space. So, we thought that was a nice synergy and when you look at the products, they didn’t really compete with us that much. They were actually very complementary.”
Desai also commented about how Astro Gaming grew out of Astro Design Studios, so there is a shared focus on design and gaming between the two companies. “They really understand gamers and they come from a design first approach,” explained Desai. “When you combine all those things—the synergy between console and PC, the love for gaming, and a shared focus on design—[the acquisition] made sense.”
With Astro’s strong presence in the US and Europe, Logitech plans on letting the company operate independently, leaving the brand, its signature packaging and website as they are. However, Desai explained how the two companies could leverage each other’s strengths.
“I think they’ve done a phenomenal job on social media building up a direct-to-consumer connection to sell products from their website,” said Desai. “That’s the kind of stuff I’d love to learn from them. On the flip side, Logitech G is unbelievably strong in places like Asia. But because Astro isn’t a huge company, it hasn’t had the time or energy to invest there, so I think that’s an area where we can help them.”
In Asia, it might make sense to expand the Astro brand to include Logitech. “Astro Gaming has a very strong brand in the US and Europe, so we’re not changing it there at all,” Desai clarified. “Maybe in Asia, I could see us doing ‘Astro by Logitech G,’ but we haven’t decided on anything yet. We’ve just started conversations with the team about what they want to do there.”
When asked whether the two brands might coordinate their marketing, Desai said, “I think that’s something that we’ll look at to see where it makes sense. Obviously, there are still a lot of things we have to do between signing and closing—but fast forward to next year and you could see both of us going to trade shows like PAX and we’d probably share one big booth, with half being Astro and half Logitech G. Fundamentally, what we want to do is have Astro continue to do all the things that they’re already doing right and help in areas where we can. We have large manufacturing operations and better worldwide distribution. If they can tap into that, then we want to help them with that. But otherwise, we’re not going to mess with them.”
The bigger question is which will be the featured brand for esports sponsorships. “Honestly, that depends on what the teams want,” Desai responded. “We’ve never tried to build an esports relationship where we force the team to use something because we’re the sponsor. We’ve tried to have genuine partnerships with teams like TSM (Team SoloMid) and Cloud9. Those players help us design the products and they get early access to prototypes that they give us feedback on so we can iterate. They’re part of that process and it’s not just, ‘here’s my check, now shove a G logo on your shirt.’ That’s not what we look for in a partnership. If we have teams that ask us whether they can use Astro headsets now that we’ve bought them, we’ll say, ‘sure, no problem.’”
Desai said that, judging from what he’s seen and heard so far, the reaction from Astro Gaming fans has been very positive, despite how some might cherish Astro’s independence as part of its brand. “They love Astro, their brand and the fact that they’re an independent company, but they also know that they’re going to get the support they need,” Desai explained. “Logitech has been around for 35 years, and Logitech G is a business unit that cares deeply about gaming. So, I think it’s been very positive and it’s a nice home for Astro to land. Logitech G and Astro together is just better.
“Hopefully, gamers will see this as a positive because now they have even more choice from us. We’re going to help make Astro better with the leverage and big infrastructure that Logitech G brings to the table and vice versa. If there are a bunch of Astro fans who want access to Logitech G keyboards and mice, now they can have it. It’s just better in general for gamers because we can share all of our ideas and IPs to come up with better products.”
That partnership might mean cross compatibility between Logitech G and Astro Gaming hardware, as Desai said that he could see the two companies sharing engineering IP both ways. With the signing done, the two brands will have to figure out the next steps for growing together.
“The ink hasn’t even dried yet, so our focus is on integration right now,” said Desai. “It’s nothing anyone will find very glamorous, but it’s stuff that we have to do, like making sure their ecommerce front end plugs into our backend and making sure all their part numbers are set up into our system. Really sucky and basic stuff.
“If you think about it, they were once owned by Skullcandy, but we didn’t take Skullcandy, we’re just taking Astro. One analogy is to imagine buying a house, but you’re only taking the bedroom and there’s no plumbing or anything that comes with it. We love the bedroom, but now we have to get it working with the plumbing in our house.”