Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bish Appointed President of Lexmark Enterprise Software

You can't accuse Lexmark of being predictable and boring. Almost two months after announcing its surprise $1B bid for document capture market leader Kofax, today, Lexmark not only announced it had closed the deal, but that Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish was taking over as president of Lexmark Enterprise Software.
Most people in the industry had assumed that Bish, who has hired by Kofax in 2007 to drive up its valuation and sell the company, had successfully completed his mission and would move on.

Instead, we have Bish taking over for Scott Coons, who was basically the founder of Perceptive Software -  the rock on which Lexmark Enterprise Software was built. Lexmark acquired Perceptive in 2010 and followed that with several other software acquisitions all rolled up under the Perceptive flag. The result was a software business with run rate of approximately $350M, prior to the acquisition of Kofax, which now doubles the size of that business. The curveball, however, is that Coons, who is some 15 years Bish's junior, is taking his retirement while Bish takes the reins of Lexmark Enterprise software (which is what Perceptive was renamed earlier this year).

The said, Bish's appointment really makes perfect sense. When you add together the revenue of Kofax, ReadSoft (which Lexmark acquired last year) and the former Brainware (now Perceptive Intelligent Capture), capture now makes up at least $450M of Lexmark Enterprise Software's projected annual run rate of $700M. And who better to run a $450M capture software business than Bish?

In addition, for the past couple years at least, Bish's vision has been wider than capture. He executed a series of acquisitions while at Kofax to help transition the company into the emerging smart process application (SPA) space. In many ways, the portfolio that Kofax adds with Lexmark, will further beef up its SPA play. But the bottom line is that, as reflected in its name, Lexmark is striving to be an "enterprise software" company and that has also been Kofax's goal since Bish took over.  Bish put a lot of infrastructure and strategies in place to execute on this goal and will now be able to carry them over into Perceptive.

One other thing, as Lexmark Enterprise Software moves to reach its goal of a 25% operating income margin by 2016 (from approximately 10% at the end 2014 for the combined Kofax and Perceptive businesses), there are certainly some personnel cuts that are going to have to be made. Technically coming in from the outside may make this easier for Bish to do than Coons, who to date had been operating Perceptive on fairly low margins in part due to Lexmark's laissez-faire approach to software.

Not that Coons was doing a bad job. In fact, when Lexmark first acquired Perceptive, it promised it would let Coons run the software business without interference and to date, Coons noted in a call with DIR, Lexmark has done a great job of keeping its promises. This hands-off approach really enabled Lexmark to establish itself as a major ECM player - which many doubted it could do.

Coons told us he was flat out ready to retire after 20 years in a very competitive market and that he supported Bish as the man to succeed him. Bish is certainly no stranger to personnel turnover, as he was an agent of change when he took over Kofax in 2007 and helped mold it into a true enterprise software vendor. As a result, Bish is probably the best man for the job now that it is time to do some remolding at Lexmark Enterprise Software as well.

Congratulations Reynolds on your new appointment and Scott, best wishes in  your retirement!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Xerox CFO Comments Seem to Rule Out Kofax Bid

Xerox recently adjusted its outlook for 2015 in the wake of fairly weak Q1 results. But, the big news for our readers may be Xerox CFO Kathryn Mikells' comments on the company's acquisition goals. Mikells told Reuters: "We're expecting to do up to $900 million in acquisitions this year and early next year." This would seem to rule out a bid for Kofax, for which Lexmark has already bid $1B.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kruchten to Depart Kodak Alaris

Dolores Kructhen, who has served as president of Kodak Alaris Document Imaging - DI (recently renamed Information Management- IM), since it was launched in 2013, is leaving the company at the end of May. Here's the official statement from Kodak Alaris:

"Dolores Kruchten, President of the Information Management division, has decided to leave Kodak Alaris at the end of May. All of us at Kodak Alaris thank Dolores for her contributions over the years and wish her all the very best for the future. We are actively recruiting – in the interim, Ralf Gerbershagen and Jeff Goodman will work closely with the existing Information Management Executive leadership team to ensure a smooth transition."

Kruchten started with Kodak  in 1981. She held numerous positions at Kodak Document Imaging, including running the hardware service business for Kodak Graphic Communications before taking over as GM of DI in 2007. Kruchten oversaw that transition of DI from a division of Eastman Kodak to one of the two principal divisions of Kodak Alaris - which were spun off as part of Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy proceedings.

The DI business struggled with uncertainty in 2012 and most of 2013, before bouncing back with a strong year for scanner sales in 2014. Like many hardware vendors, it is attempting to move towards more of a solutions approach and has added more software to its portfolio. Last week, DIR ran a story on Russell Hunt's retirement as Regional GM of the US&C for DI/IM. He is being replaced by Martin Birch, who had previously served as regional GM for EMEA at DI/IM.




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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Xerox Leaves Door Open for Kofax Bid

Here's the statement I received from Xerox after asking for a comment on Lexmark's $1B bid to acquire Kofax: "While we cannot comment on Lexmark’s decision to acquire Kofax, we can say that today we are more confident than ever in our capability to deliver outstanding Next Generation Managed Print Services, Document Outsourcing and workflow to our customers and prospects. If and when the transaction is completed, we will re-evaluate our strategic partnership with Kofax.  In the meantime, we will continue to maintain our partnership with them to support  existing customer engagements where Kofax has been adopted. We are committed to open standards and when customers choose Xerox and another partner or competitor, we will work diligently to ensure that their environment works flawlessly."

Sounds to me like their might be conversations brewing within Xerox to make a higher bid, as I don't know what else could prevent the transaction from being completed. The "if and when" certainly makes it sound like Xerox is not considering this a done deal. If the deal is completed, it also certainly sounds like Xerox will be moving on from Kofax.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Dialogue with Xamcor's Paul Carman on Lexmark-Kofax Deal

The following is a correspondence between Ralph Gammon, the editor of the Document Imaging Report, and Paul Carman, President and CEO of Xamcor, discussing what this deal means to the companies involved, as well as the industry as a whole.

Ralph Gammon of DIR: So, no surprise that an MFP vendor has announced plans to acquire Kofax. What is surprising is that it was Lexmark, instead of Xerox.

Paul Carman of Xamcor: I agree. Of course, it’s no surprise that Lexmark made another software acquisition , as they have been very active in building their software capabilities. However, Kofax does come as a bit of a surprise. With Brainware, an earlier acquisition, and then ReadSoft closing some months ago, the capture space didn’t seem to be the next logical area of opportunity.

To read the rest, please click through to the Xamcor site

Part II of the interview, in which we discuss if there is any merit to a shareholder rights-focused law firm filing a complaint against Kofax for not maximizing shareholder value.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lexmark Attempting To Corner the Market on Capture

Wow. That really caught me by surprise. About 4:30 today it was announced that Lexmark was acquiring Kofax for $1B net of cash. I was just finishing up my Kofax Transform conference story and about to start writing my piece about how Xerox was going to integrate the Kofax technology into its organization. It really made a compelling story. And the rumor circulating around AIIM last week, was the the Xerox-Kofax deal was going to close any day...Then I heard something about Kofax asking for too much, and the next thing I know Lexmark announced it had made a bid of $11 per share, or about a 47% premium over what the Kofax stock was trading at today. It's also more than 3x Kofax's 2014 reported non-GAAP reported revenue of $297M -so from that perspective it's not a bad deal.

There is a lot to like about this deal from Perceptive's standpoint. It's latest and most aggressive move in an already aggressive ECM software strategy. That said, there is certainly some overlap with the recent ReadSoft acquisition, as well as its previous Brainware acquisition. But, if you are going to transition from a hardware to a software vendor, you might as well go hard.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Xerox make a counter offer, but if $1B was already too rich for their blood. But still, if I was Xerox, I would be looking to find some money somewhere, because they really were planning on investing a lot in this partnership and now Kofax is in danger of being taken off the market by a competitor. Exciting times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ephesoft's Vision for the Future of IDR

Coming out of AIIM last year I had come up with a vision on the potential future of the document imaging industry. I've repeated the mantra several times since - and it goes like this: "Capture it all and let the technology sort it out."

In fact, I recently completed a piece for Quality Associates' upcoming Insights newsletter detailing what I see as some of the driving forces behind this vision. They include trends like increased multi-channel capture and increasing intelligence in capture driven by emerging technology like natural language processing.

This year I attended the Ephesoft Innovate conference  prior to heading down to San Diego for AIIM 2015. At Innovate, Ephesoft founder and CTO Ike Kavas presented on his vision for the future - which I thought dovetailed nicely with mine. Kavas and his team at Ephesoft have even gone so far as to developing a brand new product - Ephesoft Universe - designed to enable organizations to mine their documents.

Due for release later this year, Universe leverages Big Data tools like Hadoop. According to Kavas, Universe is able to leverage 16 different characteristics to classify a document and recognize a field. Ephesoft is developing machine learning algorithms to consider these characteristics. The bottom line is that this is a lot of data being put through a process that requires a lot of computing power - hence the need for the Big Data tools, especially if a user is throwing a high-volume of documents at it.

The end game for Universe is trying to reduce the time it takes to implement a classification and extraction application from months to minutes. Also, the idea is to enable individual users (not system admins) to set up personalized auto-classification and extraction applications.

Kavas was brave enough to show a demo of Universe, which he expects to be released, in Version 1.0, later this spring. Basically, a user creates their own document classes, feeds it examples, and chooses and labels which fields it wants to extract based on the highlighted fields that Universe was able to recognize. Once the data is extracted, it is fed into an analytics application that is also built into Universe. An example Kavas showed utilized hot/cold zone graphing to show the average price of houses in different states in the country.

Other potential application ideas tossed about included mining medical records for various reasons including enforcing records retention policies, mining expense reports to enable more informed negotiations with vendors, and examining financial documents for at-risk loans or security risks.

There is a lot here, and I'll have more detail in my next premium issue of DIR. Ephesoft's current goal is to find some customers and partners to help it determine what needs to be done next on the road to productizing Universe. But, there is clearly a lot of potential, mainly because it offers to make accessible what has historically been very high-end technology, whose adoption has been slowed somewhat I feel by paralysis by overanalysis.  If Ephesoft can really make Universe a universal tool, I think we'll start to see a slew of new IDR applications developed on top of it.