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44 ProPrint December 2013
Metrix. Holt has now moved back to the
US with his young family.
Speaking to ProPrint from his Seattle
office, Holt recalled the difficulty in
attracting EFI's attention. The vendor
initially had no interest in Metrix, and
in 2008 Holt clinched a reseller
agreement for his imposition software
with MIS developer Pace. Soon after, EFI
bought Pace, which drew Metrix onto
EFI's radar, resulting in an EFI-Metrix
partnership the following year and then
the subsequent buyout.
Holt is upbeat about EFI's acquisition
of Metrix. "What we bring to the mix is
unique. EFI have these MIS products that
are good at data collection, estimating and
costing, payroll, inventory control and so
on. But without imposition, there's a huge
"This is a critical place to optimise and
make money for your workflow. Today,
most MIS products have no consideration
of ganging. I'm not talking about high-end
ganging like Whirlwind Print and
Worldwide Online, I'm talking about just
three different products on the same press
sheet. You've just saved two makereadies
and two sets of plates, and you've
potentially doubled your profit margin
for the week in one job."
Metrix will be sold as a standalone
product, as around half its customers do
not have a commercial MIS. Some printers,
such as CMYKhub, have built their own
MIS, he says, and Metrix is a critical
component for such custom systems.
Holt's days of seeking seed money or
the proverbial white knight may now be
over, but he knows how difficult it is for
Australian software entrepreneurs to
access capital. As the pioneer of two
software companies at different times in
his career, he recalls the first time was very
difficult. "I was from the printing industry
and, if you read a book called The E-Myth, I
had an entrepreneurial seizure. I'd never
owned a computer before, so I taught
myself to write software. Funding would
have been a lot of help back in the 1990s."
The W2P genie
When EFI bought Sydney-based web-to-
print developer OPS in 2012, it opened
new market segments for EFI, according
to Olin. Key OPS features were integrated
into EFI's Digital StoreFront platform and
into its MIS software. OPS was also to
be integrated into Fiery digital front ends,
allowing OPS customers to connect to
a range of Fiery-driven printers such as
Xerox, Ricoh, Canon and Konica Minolta.
OPS business development manager
James Valbuena says OPS's scalable
solution allows subsequent integration of
modules for online variable data printing
and cross-media marketing.
"This allows the printer to open up new
revenue streams as their online presence
grows. Another point a printer should look
at when purchasing a web-to-print
solution is its ability to integrate with
other third-party systems, such as MIS
and workflow solutions. Double handling
can often be made obsolete when an
integrated workflow is put in place."
The MIS winner
New Zealand MIS pioneer Prism
Software, which nowadays goes under the
name of EFI Prism Products, was acquired
by EFI in 2011. At the time it had more
than 7,000 users of its flagship WIN MIS
across 10 countries.
The MIS developer has had a working
relationship with Metrix for years, and
WIN and Metrix have been demonstrated
together at trade shows.
Under the terms of the EFI buyout of
Prism, WIN was no longer sold to new
customers, although EFI Prism Australia
has continued to support existing users
of the software, which include Salmat,
Snap and Blue Star.
the case for remaining independent
Not all Australian print software
kingpins have sold their businesses
to large overseas pre-press vendors.
Veteran proofware guru Peter
Skarpetis, who blazed the trail with
his Serendipity Software company
in the 1990s, makes the case for
He admits that securing seed capital
in Australia is hard. But Skarpetis says
the decision to hang back from the
chase for US funding is a lifestyle
choice that has allowed him to be his
own boss and remain close to family
Serendipity's keystone software
product, BlackMagic, intrigued
pundits when an early iteration was
demonstrated at PacPrint 1996 as
a solution to replace PostScript files
in proofing. But it was not until a
few years later, when HP released its
HP2000 printer, a 600dpi device that
quadrupled the number of dots that
could be laid on the image, that
halftone ripping and proofing began
to take the industry by storm. Serendipity
has equipment manufacturers and
distributors spanning the Americas,
Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Skarpetis says this proven global
network means Serendipity can continue
to prosper on its own, particularly as it
has now shifted its focus to the lucrative
signage and packaging markets, with less
emphasis on commercial sheetfed.
Nik Hampton and Ben Day, co-directors
of Brisbane-based MIS and web-to-print
software developer Pirion Systems, are
currently enjoying the fruits of 100%
equity since they repatriated Blue Star's
stake in their company in 2010.
Pirion was founded by the code writers
in 1999. Its early achievements included
a PostScript driver for variable data print,
which led to a partnership in 2002 with
Pirie Printers in Canberra. The deal
enabled Pirion to develop content
management tools for a growing client
list and led to a joint venture with Blue
Star that lasted several years.
Hampton and Day believe regaining
full equity in Pirion has driven the
company's success, although
Hampton does not rule out ever being
acquired by a global pre-press giant.
"We've knocked on doors but we're
not chasing anyone," he tells ProPrint.
Hampton and Day much prefer their
new status as an independent
developer with a direct client base
and reselling partners such as Canon
and EEMS. Hampton believes that
client ideas -- which he considers the
lifeblood of software development --
are eroded when a company becomes
part of a much larger entity. The only
downside of independence is the
constant search for funding.
Hampton believes global vendors
with deep pockets generally have the
foresight not to transform their
acquisitions too radically, so that
being integrated into EFI or a similar
outfit "can be a positive experience"
for the acquisition and its customers.
EFI's Marc Olin
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