Alon Bar-Shany, the charismatic general manager who has led HP Indigo since 2004, is to leave the company later this summer, reportedly following a dispute over planned cut backs.
Enrique Lores, president and CEO of HP, announced a sweeping restructuring program towards the end of last year that included slimming down the company’s workforce with up to 9000 job cuts, all of which was partly to galvanise HP’s static revenues and to respond to Xerox’s hostile takeover attempt. This is said to also include several hundred Indigo employees, which Bar-Shany opposed. Inevitably, HP has won this round, supposedly leading to Bar-Shany’s departure, though it’s still unclear if he resigned or was fired. Either way, it seems to have caught HP by surprise as the company has not issued any formal statement and the news leaked out slowly through an Israel publication, CTech.
HP has replaced Bar-Shany with Haim Levit, currently the vice president and general manager of HP’s industrial organisation for Indigo and PageWide inkjet presses. Prior to that he was general manager of Indigo and inkjet press solutions for HP North America so he seems like a logical choice and more likely to follow the Board’s direction and make whatever cutbacks are required.
I suspect this will prove a hollow victory for HP since Bar-Shany has really come to personify Indigo over the years, thanks largely to his passion for the company and attention to detail, as well as willingness to engage directly and face to face with many customers around the world, and even to talk openly with journalists. He will be a hard act to follow.
At the same time, I think that it’s becoming increasingly hard for a relatively expensive technology like liquid toner to compete against inkjet, particularly in the labels and packaging sector where run lengths tend to be longer than in commercial printing. Bar-Shany’s deep personal commitment to his customers helped Indigo continue to remain relevant but equally his departure will allow HP to refocus its attention across the different print technologies it has as its disposal.
Bar-Shany joined Indigo from Israel Chemicals Ltd. in 1995, first becoming vice president of finance, and from 1998, chief financial officer. In 2001, the year HP acquired the company, he took over responsibility for the HP Indigo business in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Israel, as well as the distributor channels in EMEA. In 2002 he ran the HP Indigo business in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA), assuming the role of general manager of the company in 2004.
It’s unlikely that someone with his restless energy will just retire gracefully and he won’t be short of job offers. There are a lot of tech companies in Israel, including Landa and a large number of 3D printer manufacturers, many of whom are on the same Rehovot industrial estate near Tel Aviv where Indigo is headquartered.