May 9, 2013
Today, EFI announced its acquisition of printLEADER, a print MIS solution geared towards print management for in-plant and commercial print service providers located in North America. Since the onset of the recession, the print MIS market has regained interest from print service providers looking for ways to optimize their production facilities by having a centralized tool connected to every software and hardware system throughout their workflow. This interest has also stemmed from the need to manage the increasing demand for online ordering, and the integration and automation required to cost effectively manage this print volume while remaining competitively priced.
According to the press release, John Flemming, the founder/president of printLEADER, cited his customer’s needs to remain competitive as the primary reason for joining EFI’s portfolio including demand for web-to-print solutions. EFI is known to commit a sizable percentage (I last saw > 20% reported in 2011) of its revenue towards research and development of its existing product portfolio, something that is difficult for smaller software companies to do on their own. Its Digital StoreFront solution is one of the top web-to-print solutions being used today.
The announcement also notes that printLEADER will become integrated into the EFI PrintSmith product which is a complementary fit considering printLEADER’s use among in-plants in addition to commercial print providers. For existing customers, this also means that EFI will likely be placing the product on maintenance mode, no longer actively selling it. Prior to the acquisition by EFI, printLEADER made other recent efforts to expand on the capabilities within its print MIS solutions. Just before Graph Expo in 2011, printLEADER announced a merger with PrintPoint MIS to create a combined offering under the title printpointLEADER Software which included a B2B storefront targeted at print buyers.
This acquisition once again confirms that EFI is aggressively focused on consolidating the print MIS market. As a result, many solutions are now surfacing with interest in EFI acquiring their products. Though EFI has focused the majority of their acquisitions in the print MIS and ERP space, recent acquisitions have also included a focus on web-to-print solutions that complement their Digital Storefront product.
Below is a summary of EFI’s print MIS and web-to-print acquisitions over the years:
- 2003: EFI acquired printCafe after a bidding war with Creo
- 2008: Pace Systems Group
- 2010: Radius Solutions
- 2011: Streamline Solutions, Prism Worldwide, and Alphagraph
- 2012: Metrics Sistemas, OPS (Online Print Solutions), Technique MIS
- 2013: printLEADER
Many of these acquisitions have been very strategic, increasing or establishing EFI’s reach in new parts of the globe or adding new capabilities to the core EFI print MIS portfolio. All, however, have grown EFI’s marketshare, making it the leader in print MIS solutions. In addition to the many software acquisitions made already, EFI reported at its Connect conference earlier this year that the EPS (EFI Productivity Software) group plans to not only acquire additional companies and new technology, but also grow 10% organically this year. While EFI’s strong acquisition strategy has swayed many print service providers to strongly consider an EFI print MIS over competition, due to fear of acquisition, the EFI print MIS portfolio is unlikely to contribute significantly to this growth, at least in North America. Instead, as even printLEADER’s John Flemming has recognized, much of this projected growth is likely to stem from the increasing interest and demand in web-to-print solutions in addition to other productivity software tools. Nevertheless, the print MIS market is still growing and with dozens of other solutions on the market, EFI’s acquisition path is far from over.
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