Dirk Ulrich has left Native Instruments – is NI slowly a sinking ship or ready for a brighter future

toneyrome Member Posts: 31 Helper
edited March 1 in Social Club

It has been apparent for several years now that Native Instruments is a slowly sinking ship in the music tech business. As exclusive deals used to be, they now flood the market with them. You can buy NI plugins everywhere. At Plugin Boutique, Thomann, etc. It’s good that they’re opening up, but the constant deals show that golden times are over.

I think Dirk Ulrich also recognized it, which could be one reason why he withdrew from the business. I can imagine that working with investors is never easy because, at some point, they want to see their invested money back. And that’s currently difficult with Native Instruments.

No groundbreaking products, developments of popular plugins are discontinued, devaluation of their own plugin portfolio through massive, endless sales, etc. Anything that damages the reputation. Plus, customers have more and more alternatives.

We’ll see where Native Instruments goes in 2024. Maybe 2024 will be the golden year. One would like to wish it on them because their products have shaped the music production market. It will remain a shaky affair, but I hope that will get more positive news this year from NI than the previous years. I wish Dirk Ulrich all the best for the future.



  • chk071
    chk071 Member Posts: 396 Pro

    How about a middle ground, or, "nobody knows for sure"?

    And, I don't really know why the departure of some advisory figure who sold his whole business to NI is supposed to be a sign of somebody leaving a "sinking ship".

    Man, you people really should focus on making music. I'm sure you do better than with your crystal ball.

  • nightjar
    nightjar Member Posts: 1,305 Guru
    edited March 1

    I think the less input from anything plugin alliance the better.

    that purchase was a big mistake… totally unneeded for anything in NI’s future

    NI + iZotope is/was enough and should be the focus

    sell PA off and take the loss

  • oobe79
    oobe79 Member Posts: 94 Advisor
    edited March 1

    Yeah, I don’t know what this means for NI’s future or not. But I also think it’s an overreach to take this news article and start talking about the merits of izotope (which, apparently you approve of), or demerits of Plugin Alliance (and Brainworx, which you didn’t mention).

    But reading Ulrich’s Facebook post basically says he’s leaving because he’s not on the same page as NI’s decision makers. When it comes to NI’s current focus, we can all see for ourselves using our own eyeballs what they are doing: 1) huge marketing push to sell existing IP, and 2) supporting Kontakt. Matt_NI and other NI staff have come on these very forums and have stated multiple times they aren’t putting any money or time into updating old instruments or new innovations. So, from that standpoint, the Synthanatomy editorial certainly seems to be on point.

    I think everyone should be concerned that they don’t appear to have the resources to support brand new hardware despite a really, really rocky launch.

  • PoorFellow
    PoorFellow Moderator Posts: 3,509 mod
    edited March 1

    First of all , here is the link to the original Facebook post ! : I am not sure if I am allowed to but I will post the quote from original post below here and if Dirk Ulrich or someone N.I. tells me to remove it I certainly will do so immediately !

    Secondly : I think that it is very important to notice that apparently Dirk Ulrich chose to leave by himself !

    Quote ! : I sold PA/BX and tried hard for 2 years to serve the group in a rather passive advisory job that I was asked to morph into instead of actually helping to actively steer the new, bigger ship. It turns out though that I am simply not made for passively "advising" other people to run my business, in ways that I may or may not always fully agree with.

    Thirdly : A while back I did some digging into the whole Dirk Ulrich 'history' . And Dirk Ulrich now lives in California, where he runs a great sounding small studio and if you add it all up then I think that Dirk Ulrich looks like a guy that yes ! he wouldn't mind participating in them meeting if he were still in charge even after having sold everything , which 'strangely' enough he is not , but since he is no longer in charge then Dirk Ulrich thinks that he got a heck of a lot of other more important things to do with his life such as enjoying it !

    Quote Dirk Ulrich Biography : Since 2016 Dirk lives in California, where he runs a great sounding small studio for testing and product development, as well as the occasional mastering job. Dirk is married to his lovely wife Marina since 2012, and together they have a son, über-cute little rocker Tim, who was born in 2014.

    Quote : ""PRIVATE PRESS RELEASE - April 12, 2022 : As you may guess Marina and I won’t have to take on any jobs anymore in the future that we don’t like. Due to the fact that we still were the sole owners of our tech business in late 2021 we had an amazing payday in December. But, to be honest, for us as parents and “family people” the best thing about this “deal” is the fact that our son Tim is now financially protected no matter what, and that we are able to support many members of our big German family, friends, and our teams.

    Quote Dirk Ulrich business account Facebook post 2024-03-01 :

    It is with a heavy heart that I share these news with you all: Last night I have informed the majority shareholders and the other board members of the NI group that I am stepping down from my Advisory Board role, effective immediately. The NI group includes Native Instruments, iZotope, Plugin Alliance and Brainworx.

    This ultimately means that I will have no more active role in this company group whatsoever. Which is definitely not what I expected or wanted to happen for the business or for myself when I sold PA/BX and joined "Soundwide", now NI.

    I've re-invested a really substantial sum into the new NI when I sold PA/BX and tried hard for 2 years to serve the group in a rather passive advisory job that I was asked to morph into instead of actually helping to actively steer the new, bigger ship. It turns out though that I am simply not made for passively "advising" other people to run my business, in ways that I may or may not always fully agree with.

    I feel very sorry for potentially disappointing many of our employees that I have had many fantastic years with, the partner companies I personally signed over a period of almost 15 years, the Millions of users and fans out there who love and follow what we have created, and last not least my family members and close friends who have helped me to build something amazing between 2006 and 2021! You know who you are and you know how good you are! Please know that you all will always have a special place in my heart for sure!

    "NI ft. IZO & PA & BX" as a combined force has a ton of amazing product and IP to offer, created by hundreds of very skilled people in offices and home offices around the globe. Unleash the beast..!

    I will continue to cheer for a future NI from the "outside", which is definitely something I will have to get used to, especially considering that despite my departure from any and all active roles in the company I am still the largest private shareholder of this group.

    Music and Technology and Marketing, these are my passions and make my (business) life. It's what I know and dream about.

    This def feels like an emotional rollercoaster for me, but I am a positive person with a positive mindset, blessed with a loving and supportive family.

    And there is a German saying that goes something like this and that I have followed for decades, through the good and the bad times:

    "In the end all will be great. And if it's not really great yet... then it's probably just not the end yet."

  • Scoops
    Scoops Member Posts: 55 Member

    Not my words but my sentiments from another website

    When you are owned by a venture capital firm - while it would be nice to think that these two would make some sort of effort to optimize, fix or maybe even (god forbid) - lead the field once in a while - the reality is much more simple: "Make more products so "we" make more money and do not waste precious resources looking back"

    We all remember the NI of old - where they had maybe a dozen or 20 products and all were well coded, well designed and in some cases - the standard of their time.

    Those days are long gone - espeically in iZotopes case - where it appears they do almost nothing between Septembers - except add more questionable, hard to justify features to already well-established products plus give each the usual UI tweaks to make them "look" new - all under the guise of "Look what's "NEW" in iZoTope (insert product name here) Version x.x" all in the spirit of moving ($$$) more new product while instantly forgetting the one that came out last September.

    Fixing anything for both these companies (unless it is an actual shopstopper) is not in their game

    plan whatsoever.

  • DunedinDragon
    DunedinDragon Member Posts: 549 Pro

    Well being a Wall St Journal kinda guy (that's my ONLY source of news), there are a ton of companies struggling with a lot of issues causing pressure on their businesses. Google is one due to it's heavy investments in AI that aren't showing much evidence of significant progress. Apple is another due to it's huge investments in the past on speculative product directions such as TVs and Electric cars and then just abandoning the efforts and swallowing the loss when they proved too hard or not very marketable or profitable. But I've yet to see any suggestions of NI being in any real trouble.

    I will say NI has cooked up some pretty aggressive plans for their business as evidenced in the rash of new products and directions, but I see that as a healthy thing. As Zappa says, "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible". We've seen more than enough examples in business of companies that rested on their laurels and are no longer around. Remember Netscape? Or how about Novell Netware?

    Apple has had more than it's share of bankruptcies and survived them, but that's what happens when you test the limits. So I'm not reading anything into these current bumps in the road for NI. They'll get them worked out in time. I seriously doubt NI's "sky is falling".

  • nightjar
    nightjar Member Posts: 1,305 Guru
    edited March 2

    I can't imagine Dirk Ulrich having single idea worth paying any attention to.

    I'm glad he is out of there and not pushing stupid strategies.

    Entire concept of PA is the antithesis of the future.

  • chk071
    chk071 Member Posts: 396 Pro

    Holy smoke, a nuanced contemplation of this thing, in a musician forum??

    I must be dreaming. Way to go, sir. 👍

  • Maxray
    Maxray Member Posts: 34 Member

    They don't need new hardware! They are fine with Maschine MK3 and Komplete Kontrol MK2, to be completely honest. They wanted to make a bigger screen? Fine, okay, nothing wrong with that idea! They need to synergize the platforms through the software applications and firmware updates. They lack synergy between devices, bring these components together, let them work together! Stop separating everything out into it's own environment! I have invested a ton of money into these products. I prefer this system, but it needs a hell of alot of work to bring it into maturity.

    They created this forum and community, which I welcomed, so that we could work together to make all of our experiences better. Although, anytime I read other's posts or shoot out my own ideas to better the system, or see others get on here and ask for help, they get shunned, pushed aside, told all the reasons why NI can't or won't do anything, and we're treated like idiots. While NI does the bare minimum to actually make things better and charge us a ton of money in the process.

    What was the point? Why even make a community forum if their intention was to blow us off?

    When I shoot ideas to Arturia, they actually do them! I'll see my ideas come to fruition in the next update or product drop. They actually listen to us! They email me back with thanks and treat me with respect. They are even doing a better job on their NKS mappings! If the People at NI are offended with that last statement, they should be! I didn't invest into Arturia hardware, I invested into NI hardware, and I feel like a customer that has been left behind on this investment. The ideas I put on here, would require them not to even make new hardware, they can synergize the whole process through the system they already have and turn the damn company into a gold mine!

    Instead, we're told by a bunch of meat heads "we can't... we won't... look somewhere else!".... Well, if that's the attitude NI wants to run with, people will leave to other vendors! Other vendors that will make their experience a pleasant one. If you don't want to build this company and turn it into something special, why are you even running it? Sell it! Sell it to someone who wants the challenge! Because the bare minimum isn't cutting it, and you're not building a future! I remember the old NI, it was a great company, you were innovative and inquisitive, always bringing something new. Now, I feel like you're just pumping stuff out just to make an extra buck?!

    I'm an electronics engineer... I worked in that field for two decades! Companies would hire me to come in make them money, decrease losses, improve quality, increase revenue and synergize operations, all of it improving policy and creating a more pleasant workplace for the employees and engineers. I was extremely successful in the years I was working in that field, but I also got burnt out and left industry, because I hit a ceiling and there was no where higher to move, without me having to create my own consultation business, which would have required too many certifications. I'm saying all this, because when I shoot ideas, it's coming from experience. I don't say stupid things "D-One"! I'm giving you ideas to make our relationship and experience together better! You shouldn't blow all these people off that are asking you for help! You get your team together and work on ideas on how to improve those experiences, while using the community forum to get more ideas from your clients.

    Frankly, I don't know if Ulrich left on his own accord or not, but I wish him the best. He's probably doing himself a favor anyway?! I don't want to have a bad relationship with NI, I want the best for this company, and they could be the best, but not with the attitudes they currently have when it comes to us, the clients.

    P.S. - "A good CEO listens to the people below them and hears what their clients are saying, then takes that advisement and makes an informed decision."... The CEO of Sony said that, after he turned it into a multibillion dollar corporation. Take the advice!

  • MorrisEd
    MorrisEd Member Posts: 87 Helper

    NI is so far behind now, I doubt they can catch up. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise since they are not as old a company as Roland or Akai, both of whom are eating NI’s lunch at the moment. NI seems to be betting the house on plug-ins, which are now commoditized. It is surprising to me since I think this is fairly obvious. Also, one of NI’s main competitive strengths (if they have one) is pre-mapped hardware devices. NI went through all the trouble of basically creating a proprietary DAW (Maschine) and wrapper program (KK), yet refuse to bring these things together under one hardware roof, thereby exiting the plugin game entirely. It’s a mistake imo. Akai has fully embraced a return to hardware, and Roland has also made hardwrae integration a cornerstone of its Roland Cloud platform. NI is going to die off very soon if they don’t get the memo and follow suit. They will not survive selling commoditized software with hardware as an afterthought. Hardware should now be the primary consideration since computing resources are now robust enough to not need your personal computer to run software instruments.

  • william olson
    william olson Member Posts: 41 Member

    how much more hardware and software do you all need .Get busy and start making music.

  • LostInFoundation
    LostInFoundation Member Posts: 4,311 Expert
    edited March 3

    Sorry to disillusion you…but this forum is here to lower the number of tickets opened with support by having users solving other users issues without NI having to put work on it…not to gather suggestions or having an idea on what the users want…

    Another way for them to lower their costs (less support employees needed), not a forward thinking way to keeping abreast of the situation with the market needs.

    Hope to be proved wrong by more and more threads like the ones about Maschine’s features future (and that those threads are not just to keep users quiet but that they will concretely lead to something…), but…till now, that’s the sad truth…

  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 673 Pro

    Well being a Wall St Journal kinda guy (that's my ONLY source of news), there are a ton of companies struggling with a lot of issues causing pressure on their businesses.

    I strongly suggest you add Investors Business Daily to your reading list. It's about 5 times more expensive than the WSJ, but if you want to make money, then you kind of can't put a price on it anyway.

    That said, you are right; there are a TON of companies struggling.

    And we can see that in the market breadth. Just in the NASDAQ alone, the top 4 to 7 stocks make up the great majority of the index's move up or down on any given day! That's not a lot of depth because everybody else is pretty much an "also ran", although to be sure, there are lots of moneymaking opportunities in the "also rans", lol.

    Google is one due to it's heavy investments in AI that aren't showing much evidence of significant progress.

    Google just about took it's pants off in the middle of a busy train station with those AI pictures of Vikings and the Pope. But just look at the personal views of the main guy over that project. He raised the Gemini AI to be just as if it were one of his children.

    It's like that episode of the original Star Trek, called "The Ultimate Computer", where the designer of the "M-5 computer" used his own mind as a basis to solve various AI problems. That resulted in the Enterprise not having good judgment during a training exercise, and killing multiple other starships and their crews.

    Yeah, that's just a 1960s story of fiction. But even our cultural fiction can inform us going forward.

    Apple is another due to it's huge investments in the past on speculative product directions such as TVs and Electric cars and then just abandoning the efforts and swallowing the loss when they proved too hard or not very marketable or profitable.

    Apple was looking "toppy" to me last summer, and I stopped following it regularly. Oh sure, I'll still buy a new iPhone or a new Apple Watch, but I won't buy the stock until the company turns things around. Unfortunately today, it can't seem to get out of its own way. Dropping the electric vehicle project is probably a good thing, and is probably 18 months overdue. We'll see if there's more to come from Apple.

    But I've yet to see any suggestions of NI being in any real trouble.

    Neither have I, but I will say that the music industry has seen a lot of consolidation over the course of the last few years. NI has been a part of it, but then so have other companies. Even Sweetwater changed owners recently.

    Consolidation is not usually a good thing. It's an opportunity to be a good thing, yes. But leadership needs to take the opportunity. Instead, most mergers end up 1 year later with a lower value of the combined entities than the original value at the start of the merger a year ago!

    Seriously. Look into IBD. You'll cry at the price. And I won't even tell you how much the MarketSurge charting service costs, or you might fall over and maybe even foam at the mouth and stop seeing in color. But that's temporary. You'll get over it like I did. 😯

  • chk071
    chk071 Member Posts: 396 Pro

    "how much more hardware and software do you all need ."

    The one last synth which will finally boost my creativity.


  • caramba
    caramba Member Posts: 15 Member

    Hehe, maybe it was no more interested in producing an endless amount of extensions for (the remaining) outdated products ;)

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