EFI sells off MIS to Symphony Tech Group

Symphony Tech forms eProductivity Software for all MIS

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Gabriel (Gaby) Matsliach, CEO of eProductivity Software
Gabriel (Gaby) Matsliach, CEO of eProductivity Software
EFI has sold off its MIS and related print productivity software to the venture capital Symphony Technology Group in order to concentrate on the inkjet side of its business alongside the Fiery RIPs. Naturally, none of the parties involved will comment on the price or terms of the deal, which concluded on 30 December 2021.

Consequently, the software business will now operate as a new standalone company as eProductivity Software, or EPS, and includes the entire productivity software portfolio, IP, people and offices. EFI had built up an extremely comprehensive portfolio that includes a number of MIS from entry-level to enterprise. These have been supplemented with further productivity software to create complete solutions for several sectors including packaging, mailing and commercial print. There are a number of other tools, such as the MarketDirect StoreFront web-to-print, the Escada Corrugated control and shop floor data collection, not to mention dynamic scheduling, intelligent estimating and cost-driven imposition.

The new company has around 4,000 customers globally, mostly medium and enterprise-sized printers involved in packaging, commercial print, mailing, and display graphics.

Gaby Matsliach, who led the EFI productivity software division and has now become CEO of the new company, commented, “This strategic step in becoming an independent company enables us to bring greater value to our customers, as well as the packaging and print industries overall, by extending our collaboration with key industry technology players. We will of course continue to collaborate closely with our friends at EFI. In addition, we will accelerate investments in our technology advancements and modernization, in our level of partnership with customers, and in driving global organic and inorganic growth.”

Carrie Klepzig, senior director of global marketing and business development, told me, “One of the things that excites us the most about this new chapter in our journey is the ability to be laser focused on bringing transformational technology to the packaging and print industries and to our current and future customers. That will remain our primary focus.”

Eproductivity Software has also announced that Marc Olin has joined its board as executive chairman. Olin was the founder and CEO of PrintCafe, which was acquired by EFI in 2003 and became the foundation of EFI’s productivity software division. Olin went on to lead the division within EFI before becoming chief financial officer of EFI. He commented: “I am impressed with the progress the business has made in recent years and I am excited to be coming back to where I spent most of my career – transformational software technology for the printing and packaging industries.”

As already noted, eProductivity Software is owned by private equity company Symphony Technology Group, which has built up a portfolio of around 35 companies in the data, software, and analytics fields. This is entirely separate from Siris, the private equity firm that acquired EFI for $1.7 billion back in 2019.

The sale should leave EFI free to concentrate on its industrial inkjet business, which is mainly centred around the Nozomi platform for printing corrugated packaging, and the Reggiani textile printing business. EFI has said that it is investing in R&D to strengthen its position in its core markets while entering new categories – including the development of technologies to address new applications for the textile space and for packaging.

Jeff Jacobson, EFI’s CEO and Executive Chairman, commented, “We are making significant investments to continue to be the clear leader in the Packaging & Corrugated, Display Graphics, Textile, and Building Materials/Decor markets.”

Jacobson added, “The potential of the high-growth industrial inkjet markets is the impetus for us to accelerate our investments in market-leading products and services that drive the analog-to-digital transformation. Industrial inkjet imaging is one of the greatest opportunities I have seen in my 35 years in this industry.”

In my view, it does make sense for EPS to split the productivity software business into a separate company that can approach customers independent of any press or hardware vendor. However, it would be more reassuring if EPS could demonstrate some plans to expand beyond its core print and packaging markets, perhaps to develop productivity software for the digitally-printed textile market, or even for the 3D-printing space.

The picture is less clearcut when it comes to EFI. On the one hand, EFI will be able to invest more effort into the packaging and industrial print markets as Jacobson noted and so can reasonably expect to see further growth in these areas.

But it’s hard to imagine that some of these areas would not also benefit from some of the software tools and know-how that are now tied up with the eProductivity Software. Equally, I think that the pandemic has demonstrated that data services and software licensing are a useful way of generating revenue and being less reliant on hardware sales. Interestingly, the EFI website still lists all the productivity software just as before though the links do go to the new company.

It’s possible that EFI can cater for some of this through its Fiery front ends.  Toby Weiss, chief operating officer and general manager for the Fiery division, commented: “Working in close consultation with our partners, the investments we are making in the future of Fiery technology will foster even stronger solutions – including leading-edge cloud offerings through an EFI IQ suite of products that continues to help customers achieve new levels of automation, accuracy and profit potential in digital printing.”

EFI completes sale of eProductivity Software (EPS) business
Jeff Jacobson, chief executive officer and executive chairman at EFI Photo: Jeff Jacobson

Jacobson also referenced Fiery, commenting, “We have never been more excited about the opportunity in the industrial inkjet markets and our ability to leverage Fiery, the leading Digital Front End (DFE) technology for digital colour printing, to continue to drive the analog-to-digital transformation in all high-value segments of imaging – while increasingly serving new adjacencies including e-commerce, direct-to-garment, and other rapidly growing segments.”

It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on EFI, and what it does with the money from this sale and what new technologies might emerge. Hopefully the company’s Connect user conference, which starts later this month on 17 January, will shed more light on this. In the meantime, you can find more details from efi.com and from eproductivitysoftware.com.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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