Google acquires Deepmind

28th January 2014

Google has bought the British firm DeepMind Technologies, which specialises in developing artificial intelligence solutions. The company was founded in 2010 by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman and has concentrated on deep learning algorithms, that allow machines to learn in a similar fashion to humans, using experiential learning. The company has been well-funded and has demonstrated solutions for simulations, e-commerce and games. Google has also used Deep Learning for projects such as recognising house numbers from StreetView pictures.
Google is said to have paid around £400m, making it one of Google’s largest European acquisitions. Google has also agreed to set up an ethics board to ensure that the technology is not abused.

Konica Minolta buys stake in MGI

22nd January 2014

Konica Minolta has bought a minority 10 percent stake in MGI Digital Graphic Technology. The deal has cost Konica Minolta €13.7m, which it says is part of a common long term vision to establish a stronger presence in the professional digital printing market.
MGI will remain an independent company but both will collaborate on future products and Konica Minolta will sell some of the MGI printers, including the Meteor digital press line.
This plays into Konica Minolta’s ‘genre-top’ strategy of concentrating on specific niches, something which MGI has proven very good at with printers developed for producing cards and calendars as well as document printers. But MGI should benefit from Konica Minolta’s larger sales and service infrastructure.

EFI buys SmartLinc

17th January 2014

EFI has acquired SmartLinc, an American company that develops shipping software. This software allows users to select the best carrier for their shipments and can be integrated with other software systems. Thus MIS can automatically submit print jobs to SmartLinc software, which then tracks shipment status, cost and carrier information, and transfers this information back to the MIS to give users a more complete picture of expenses, job delivery and other essential metrics.
As is usually the case with EFI’s acquisitions, the SmartLinc staff have all joined EFI, including co-owners Greg Billinghurst and Scott Kwiatkowski. As a side note, EFI’s CEO Guy Gecht told me last year that such employees were often more valuable to EFI than the companies it bought, pointing out that many of EFI’s senior managers have joined the company following acquisitions.
EFI hasn’t disclosed the terms of the deal but has said that it is not expected to be material to EFI’s Q1 or full-year 2014 results.

Xerox acquires Invoco

6th January 2014

Xerox has signed an agreement to buy the German-based company Invoco Holding GmbH once the customary closing conditions have been met. The move will strengthen Xerox Europe with German language customer care services, and give Xerox the chance to sell its solutions to Invoco’s existing customers.
This acquisition follows Xerox’s similar customer care acquisitions in the European market, including Unamic (Benelux region) in 2011, and both WDS (U.K.) and XL World (Italy) in 2012. The Invoco management team will remain unchanged and continue to be led by Rainer Diekmann, Invoco’s chief executive officer.  After closing, the company will go to market as ‘Invoco, A Xerox Company’. Headquartered in Hamburg, Invoco’s 1,800 employees offer deep expertise in the cable industry allowing Xerox to add to the suite of industries where it leads in customer care, including telecom, transportation, technology, retail, and travel.
“Invoco will blend seamlessly with our current operations as we expand our BPO footprint in Germany and execute our European customer care strategy,” Simon Verzijl, group president of Xerox’s commercial business process outsourcing in Europe. “Together our goal is to expand service and capability across Europe to new and existing local market and multi-national clients.”

EFI acquires Metrix

18th October 2013

EFI has bought Metrix software, best known for its imposition technology. The Metrix team has joined EFI, including Metrix CEO and founder Rohan Holt, who is now director of EFI Metrix products.
EFI will be continuing development and customer support activities for all of Metrix’s software products. Metrix’s technology offering will also expand to serve as an integrated impositioning module for EFI’s Pace MIS. Over time, Metrix’s technology will also become integrated with EFI’s other MIS and ERP workflow offerings. EFI plans on continuing Metrix’s existing reseller and channel arrangements.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed but EFI has said that it won’t affect its Q4 or end of year 2013 results.

MGI acquires industrial print specialist Ceradrop

26th September 2013

MGI has bought Ceradrop, a French company based in Limoges, which dominates the French market for printed electronics and the printing of 3D components. Ceradrop has developed advanced equipment for printing both 2D and 3D ceramic and organic electronic components with high added value, such as antennas, Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display screens, electronic chip cards, solar cells, RFID tags, printed batteries, and biomedical sensors. These components can be printed onto a wide variety of materials such as glass, metals, polymers, plastics and paper as an alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. According to IDTechEx market research, the market for printed electronics was estimated at $9.4 billion in 2012, and is forecasted to grow to more than $40 billion in 2020 and $300 billion by 2030.
Ceradrop has been able to print very complex component designs and overcome constraints linked to the type of materials being deposited via inkjet thanks to an exclusive patented software suite as well as its ink technology. It has a team of 15 Doctors, engineers and technicians.
It’s a good fit for MGI, which is concentrating on developing industrial printing systems. In 2011 the company bought KÖRA-PACKMAT, a German automation specialist, which reinforced MGI’s expertise in the fabrication of precision mechanical systems.

Xerox acquires LearnSomething

8th June 2013

Xerox has bought LearnSomething, a Florida-based provider of custom e-learning solutions and consumer education for the food, drug and healthcare industries. The acquisition broadens the services Xerox offers to these industries, providing retail companies with Web-based information programs that meet the regulatory, operational, continuing education and internal training needs of their diverse and widely-distributed workforces. LearnSomething currently delivers industry information and educational programs to 85 percent of all U.S. retail pharmacy chains, reaching more than 110,000 retail pharmacists.