New York-based KitSplit has acquired SF-based CameraLends, bringing their two communities together.
The last few years have seen an explosion in non-traditional ways to rent film and video gear, with the rise of online rental houses like LensRentals.com that maintain their own inventory, and "sharing economy" platforms like KitSplit, ShareGrid, and CameraLends offering an inventory shared by their users. This expansion into the sharing economy has increased competition, serving to lower prices and make gear accessible that otherwise would be difficult to find.
For gear owners, while the individual rental prices might have gone down, the increased volume of rental activity has hopefully been enough to make up for it; monetization through camera sharing is a great way to offset the high cost of purchasing film gear.
Being successful in this marketplace requires a large community of users, so it's unsurprising to discover that two of the competitors in the field are merging. Today, KitSplit announced that it is acquiring CameraLends. KitSplit is based primarily in New York, while CameraLends is based out of San Franciso; CameraLends founder Adam Derewcki will remain an advisor to KitSplit on an ongoing basis. The CameraLends user community will be merged into the KitSplit community, allowing it vetted access to the services that KitSplit has to offer.
The merger grew out of a series of meetings in which the founders realized how similar the two companies' values were and how closely their goals aligned. Both are aiming to enable new levels of cooperation among filmmakers of all types, and to help filmmakers have the most efficient and painless rental process possible so they can focus on telling their stories.
KitSplit, in particular, has had great success with its concierge service, which allows filmmakers to create a list of items they are looking to rent; KitSplit will source them, even if a variety of vendors are required. KitSplit has also been savvy in terms of filling its inventory—not just with peer-to-peer gear, but also traditional rental house stock, which creates a wide selection of choice for users and makes the rental shopping process easier.
These core missions will expand with the integration of the CameraLends community, more than 10,000 users strong, helping KitSplit grow on the west coast.
Like many deals, this one wasn't entirely negotiated in the boardroom. During one of his trips to New York, Derewecki discovered that KitSplit co-founder Kristina Budelis was throwing a party for her beloved cat Oliver and came out to socialize. After an enjoyable evening, the KitSplit team became convinced that this wasn't just a deal that made sense on paper.