Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dennis Retires From Visioneer

We must admit that this announcement caught us a bit by surprise. I mean, by all accounts, Murray Dennis helped turn around Visioneer, from a company caught in a market with rapidly declining sales and margins, to a leader in the emerging market for document scanners. Before going any further, let me first state that I have no insights at the moment was to why Dennis has left Visioneer.

I do know that he has been there a long time. I have him quoted in DIR as far back as 1998, when Visioneer was going through some intense battles over false advertising and intellectual property with its competitors in the consumer scanning market. I remember discussing with Murray Visioneer's planned transition from consumer to document scanners and his guiding it through the ramp-up phase. By all accounts, he was instrumental in Visioneer's brand-licensing deal with Xerox, which the company has always touted as a successful arrangement. Dennis also helped orchestrate the acquisition of JFL Perihperhal Technologies, the TWAIN development specialist that now spearheads Visioneer's OneTouch driver development. And OneTouch has emerged as the future of the company.

Not that there haven't been missteps. The biggest was probably the whole Don McMahan era at Visioneer. While McMahan, who was brought in by Dennis after he abruptly left competitor FCPA, did a lot to increase Visioneer's presence in the market, he left Visioneer after only a year-and-a-half in a less-than-ideal breakup. Visioneer hoped to continue to ride some of the momentum McMahan had created without having him on the payroll, but we're not so sure how well that has worked out. Meanwhile, McMahan has moved to Kodak and is targeting the same sales channels he helped build at Visioneer.

The bottom line is that Dennis in many respects helped make Visioneer what it is today - one of the leading players in the distributed document scanner market, and a company with some intriguing and potentially valuable intellectual property. J. Larry Smart, the long-time Chairman of Visioneer, as well as the owner, is now taking over the reigns as CEO. Smart has been way more than a figurehead over the years, so he knows the market, as well as his company, and we don't expect Visioneer to miss a beat. That said, depending on the reasons for Dennis' departure, we could also see some serious changes as Visioneer, as Smart has a history of success in the technology industry that he fully expects to continue at Visioneer.

Best regards,

Ralph

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