Friday, February 25, 2011

Jan Andersson Leaving ReadSoft

You've probably already seen the report that ReadSoft's Jan Andersson is giving up his position as CEO of the company he co-founded 20 years ago. Instead, Andersson is taking a seat on the board of the $96 million document capture and business process automation specialist. The official word from Bob Fresneda, the managing director of ReadSoft's North American operations, is that Andersson wants to be able to lead from a board position, rather than having to focus a considerable amount of time on ReadSoft's day-to-day operations.

"Taking a company from a start-up to a $100 million company is a different job than trying to double that $100 million business," said Fresneda. "It takes some of the same vision, ability, and desire, but you can't do that while worrying about the day-to-day operations of the company."

That seems like a fair statement. 

Andersson's announcement came after the company announced a successful fourth quarter, for which it reported 7% revenue growth (13% measured in local currencies) over the 2009 fourth quarter and a 73% growth in operating profit. For the year 2010, revenue growth was nearly flat, with ReadSoft reporting a 6% growth when measured in local currencies. Operating profits were up 93% to almost $9 million. Clearly, however, when compared to Kofax's reported 20% growth in software revenue for the final six months of 2010, ReadSoft was losing some market share to its top competitor.

While 2009's 6% growth could be attributed to the economy, flat growth in 2010, while your competition is growing well into double-digits, is tough to swallow.

Andersson has certainly done a great job at ReadSoft for a number of years. ReadSoft was clearly an innovator in document-capture-based invoice capture systems, as the first ISV to realize how important a workflow piece was to the invoice equation, when it bought the SAP-experienced development organization Ebydos. But, in recent years, the rest of the market has been catching up, and ReadSoft hasn't been able to answer with another big move. Maybe Andersson felt it was time to give someone else a shot at doing that as CEO.

There's a lot of speculation I can make, and I'll do some of that in next week's premium issue, as well as have some more insights from Fresneda. For now, we wish Jan and the rest of ReadSoft the best with this transition. As a $100 million software vendor with a worldwide footprint and multiple Global 200 accounts, this is not an organization in trouble, but if ReadSoft wants to keep up with the aggressively moving Kofax, it's probably a good time to make some changes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BancTec Names President for Americas

Maria L. Allen has been named to what I believe is a new post as the Dallas-area-based document and transction capture specialist. Allen is Banctec's new president for the Americas, as well as a corporate senior VP.

Like a lot of the management staff that BancTec has brought on in recent years, Allen is a former EDS employee who was VP of global financial services outsourcing for HP Enterprise Services (where she oversaw worldwide BPO operations, portfolio strategy, and business development) before joining BancTec in August 2010. For the past six months, she had been serving as BancTec's group VP of global strategy and market development.

BancTec CEO and Chairman J. Coley Clark is also an ex-EDS exec who joined BancTec in 2004. Since Clark has joined the company, BancTec has increased its  BPO revenue more than 10-fold, through a combination of acquisitions and internal growth. In 2009 (the most current public filing), BancTec listed $93 million in BPO revenue. This accounted for more than a third of BancTec's overall revenue of $273 million. BPO is obviously an important part of BancTec's strategy going forward, as the other three areas of its business all reported a decline in 2009.

In 2009, $147 milllion was reported as coming from the Americas region, which Allen will oversee, and $126 million from EMEA.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Document Boss on Metastorm Acqusisition

Because the deal is not closed, apparently Open Text is not saying anymore than they already have (which hasn't been much) about the Metastorm acquisition. I really have not been able to find too much in depth analysis on the deal, but the best work I've seen is this piece from Document Boss.

Here's an excerpt: "BPM is increasingly being seen as the backbone of the ECM and related technology sector  - the glue for managing the processing,collaboration and workflow of documents and data.  Metastorm was a pure play BPM software provider, embracing Enterprise and Business Architecture, Business Process Analysis, and Business Process Management from a pure play platform approach...This acquisition is not only a good bolt- on to allow Open Text to further expand their ECM offering, but it allows them to be positioned as more of a major player in the BPM space, with access to increased market opportunities.

"In addition, the acquisition of Metastorm by Open Text speaks volumes about the importance of BPM and accompanying analytics, and we expect more core ECM companies to add robust BPM capabilities throughout 2011."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Open Text Buys Metastorm

So, by now, you've probably seen the announcement that Open Text has bought Metastorm. The question I have is why. Not that Metastorm isn't a good company in a good market - it's just that this seems like a bit of an odd deal for Open Text - most similar to the ECM ISV's acquisition of IXOS way back in 2003.

Why is the deal odd? Well, Open Text, which usually drives a pretty hard bargain, agreed to pay $182 million in cash for Metastorm, which depending on who you believe is 2 to 2.5 times Metastorm's annual revenue. My information had Metastorm on track for more than $90 million in 2009. The Seeking Alpha Web site apparently had the same info that I did, but is also reporting that "Open Text indicated that Metastorm was generating $70-75m in sales....However, we suspect that guidance assumes a bit of revenue write-downs and (perhaps) a bit of sandbagging."

Either way, Open Text does seem to be paying a bit of a premium by its standards, even if Metastorm has shown some impressive growth- it was reportedly a $25 million company just five or six years ago - and is in the fairly hot BPM space. The fact that Open Text is buying anyone that large for 2 to 2.5 times revenue in a still shaky economy comes as a surprise. I remember being similarly surprised by the 1.5 times revenue premium Open Text paid for IXOS eight years ago (IXOS was not in a hot space), but that deal's primary driver was that it gave Open Text an in with SAP, which it has certainly leveraged successfully.

Was the Metastorm deal something orchestrated by SAP, similar to Open Text's acquisitoin of Captaris for the capture technology that was immediately embedded in an SAP OEM offering? I don't know, but I certainly suspect there is more to this deal than meets the eye.

Any thoughts?

Xerox Acquires ISV/SI

Last week Xerox acquired DocuShare systems integrator WaterWare Internet Services. Water Ware, which is based in Northern California, near the Palo Alto Xerox office where DocuShare is developed, will do professional services and software development related to implementations of Xerox DocuShare implementations. They were doing this on their own previously, but now will do it in conjunction with the Xerox sales team.

WaterWare has already developed some software applications around  DocuShare, including at least a couple that include some document capture functionality. We did a story last year on one of WaterWare's implementations at an L.A.-area hospital. WaterWare is named after founder Mark Waters who is now Xerox's DocuShare Solutions manager. We'll have more on this in our next premium issue.

The acqusition of an ISV/SI like WaterWare is another indication of MFP vendors' desire to move more deeply into software and services. I'm not sure that this fufills my beginning of the year prediction that an MFP vendor will buy a capture ISV, but on a small scale, this is certainly an example of that.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Kofax Posts half-year results

The much-anticpated Kofax six-month results have been announced. As expected, they are impressive. Kofax reported 20% growth in its software business, up to $121.7 for the half-year period ending Dec. 31. Kofax also reported an adjusted EBITA of $23.5 million - up 192% from the previous year's six-month period. Kofax now has $69 million in cash (and from what I gathered talking to him a couple weeks ago, CEO Reynolds Bish is itching to invest that money, plus the $20 million from the distribution business sale, in an acquisition.)

Bish said in a press release related to the results that he expects, "our software business revenues to grow by approximately 14% on an organic, constant currency basis during this current fiscal year....we have now raised our longer term, sustainable target closer to a 20% margin."

CFO J.R. Arnold had this to say on Kofax's renewed success through its channels, "We continue to realize benefits from our hybrid go-to-market model with revitalized performance in our indirect channel, which generated 56% of applications software license revenues....OEM/POS revenues increased 6% to $12.7 million from $12.0 million in the prior year, reflecting a continuing recovery in this area of our business."

The hardware business, which was recently sold, continued to struggle. Said Arnold, "Revenue in the hardware business decreased 10% to $59.9 million in the first half of fiscal year 2011 from $66.8 million in the prior year, and its adjusted EBITA decreased to $0.2 million from $2.0 million."

Bish had previewed some of this success a couple weeks ago, but apparently for investors, the proof is in the pudding. As of this post, the stock had jumped 18% today, from somewhere around 3.5 pounds per share to over 4.25. Good momentum at Kofax. Let's hope it's a sign of strength throughout the industry...although at the recent Transform event in San Diego, Bish did say his goal was to "crush the competition."