I have Google "Alerts" set up and remember getting the news back then about the acquisition...
I spent 10 years in finance and it was my evaluation that for the price they paid, every certification they issued was worth about $23. When I ran the same valuation for my business, each certification I issue is valued at $322.
Now, I don't have the overhead they do, however, if I could extend the analogy, anytime that your customer is worth less than a dinner at Taco Bell, it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
I left Washington Mutual in 2006 because I saw behaviors that lowered the value of each customer. Two years later (2008 housing collapse), Kerry Killenger took one of the largest and oldest financial institutions from an $11Billion corporation to zero! The irony of their demise wasn't that they didn't have the collateral to stay solvent but they lost their cash when customers asked for reassurances that their money was safe. When "20-something year old" bankers couldn't explain to their customers (many of them with memories of the Great Depression) that their money was safe, it started the run on cash and without cash, the FDIC stepped in and closed their doors.
It would seem like a good deal for the investors, but I get the feeling that it's a hedge fund bet... What's happening is they see an upcoming boom in the economy where people will have lots of disposable income and are going to throw it into recreational activities like scuba. Because PADI can produce it cheaper, faster and easier, no one will be able to compete and before you know it, the production of divers will be relegated to the likes of the "TV Dinner" or "Happy Meal" -- cheap, fast, easy AND bad for your health!
Because PADI does the best job of the marketing of scuba, the industry will be known for the product they produce. When people think of scuba, they will go to PADI.
Like all industries, theirs will be the cheaper alternative and PADI will be the Wal-Mart or Dollar Store of scuba. The Gucci family is known by the quote, "Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten." The wave of the future is going to be the independent instructor that turns out divers and not "McCertifications."
When Elon Musk can rewrite the automotive industry as Lee Iococca did in the 80's, watch for the individual to save scuba!
If you're an instructor and want to survive, it will not be your certification agency that is going to save you. If you can't build relationships with people, innovate, and understand that shareholders and stockholders aren't who you're working for (the dive shop) you are going to fail like Washington Mutual and Detroit did.
The industry has two years left! I'm not a financial guru or have a crystal ball, but I know what's wrong with scuba -- their regulator is free-flowing...!!!