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EFI Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary of Printcafe Acquisition & A Decade of the 'New EFI' (Commentary by Cary Sherburne)

Press release from the issuing company

FREMONT, Calif. – EFI™, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, is marking the 10-year anniversary of its acquisition of Printcafe, a leading provider of MIS/ERP solutions for printing operations. This acquisition represented the birth of “the new EFI,” paving the way for the company to evolve by becoming more focused on the growth areas of the industry while helping customers transform their own businesses. 

At the time of the acquisition on October 21, 2003, CEO Guy Gecht stated, “Adding Printcafe technology and services to EFI’s current portfolio helps further our vision of providing a complete, end-to-end professional printing workflow.”

“By adding Printcafe, and its expertise and customer relationships, we were able to kick-start the transformation of our business,” Gecht said today. “Ten years later, EFI is a leading global provider of digital imaging across multiple industries. The ‘new EFI’ that was born with the Printcafe acquisition embodies the spirit of innovation and transformation that continues to grow stronger over time.”

The technologies and services EFI began offering with the Printcafe acquisition helped EFI offer more value to customers through leading-edge products and support, combined with a robust user community network. 
"We have maintained a great relationship with EFI since becoming a customer through the Printcafe acquisition in 2003, and it has been incredible to watch the significant impact that the company has made and continues to make in our ever-evolving industry," said long-time customer David Pilcher Sr., owner and president of Freeport Press in Freeport, Ohio. "Our company has gone through successful transformations of our own and experienced significant growth over the years, and EFI has been with us every step of the way. We look forward to many more years of partnership with the EFI team."

Prior to the Printcafe acquisition, EFI had annual revenues of $416 million. The company is expecting approximately $720 million in revenues for 2013, an increase of more than 70% over the last decade. 

Commentary by Cary Sherburne

Today is a pretty exciting day at EFI.  First, it is the 10-year anniversary of the acquisition of Printcafe. Second, the company has just come off of a record-breaking third quarter, with revenues up 16%. And finally, somewhat coincidentally, EFI is now operating from a new location in Fremont, California, after many years in Foster City. In the midst of all of that, EFI also acquired Metrix to add new capabilities to its portfolio.

The new headquarters campus consists of two buildings with a total of 240,000 square feet.  EFI is occupying 180,000 square feet of the campus with an option to purchase the remaining 60,000 square feet.  The move and purchase of the new building were driven by the sale of EFI’s Foster City headquarters last year.  The company was given a one-year occupancy following the sale to enable it to locate and build out new headquarters.  That year expires November 1st.  CEO Guy Gecht said, “We turned to our former President, Fred Rosenzweig, who had retired from EFI, to manage the build-out process.  He did a fabulous job, and probably took on more than anticipated with this project.  We could never have finished on time without his help and expertise.  We might have broken another record by being the first public company that ever became homeless!”

EFI purchased a concrete shell and conducted a full build-out.  The management team saw this as an opportunity to operate in a more open, collaborative environment.  For example, there are no offices.  Even senior executives have cubicles.  There are many areas where employees can gather and exchange ideas, including some walls that are covered by a white-board-like material that allows on-the-fly sharing of notes and ideas that can easily be erased when no longer needed.  There are, of course, conference rooms and meeting spaces to accommodate more confidential conversations.  Additionally, while the labs did not have windows in the previous location, they now have windows, making their work environment more pleasant. Watch for more information about the building and how it is being received by employees following a proposed site visit by WhatTheyThink staff in January.

Many of our readers likely remember the high drama that surrounded the battle between Creo and EFI to acquire Printcafe, with EFI doubling the bid Creo had made for the company and ultimately closing the deal. Since that time, the company has continued to surprise market watchers with bold moves, including its entry into the superwide format inkjet market with acquisitions of VUTEk, Jetrion and Raster Printers (now marketed as EFI Wide Format). Even more surprising was the relatively recent acquisition of Spain’s Cretaprint, a manufacturer of decorative ceramic tile printers, bringing digital printing technologies and efficiencies to that market. 

At the time of the Printcafe acquisition, the dot-com bust was in full play and Printcafe was struggling. EFI saw the opportunity Printcafe would provide in helping it move into the production printing space.  Of course, with Creo owning nearly half the stock and attempting to purchase the balance itself, a public battle ensued in which EFI was the ultimate winner. Printcafe had revenues of about $35 million at the time of the acquisition. Today, that business unit of EFI generates about $120 million in annual revenues.

Since the acquisition of Printcafe a decade ago, the overall economy has faced turbulent times, and may be facing more.  The commercial printing industry, as a microcosm of the overall economy, has undergone even more severe challenges, partially related to the economy and partially related to the digital revolution that is diverting many previously printed materials to electronic alternatives.  EFI had the vision to first invest in a company with technologies that could improve the productivity and business management of printing operations, thus giving them tools to strengthen their businesses, and then to capitalize on the growth opportunity presented by the analog-to-digital transition the sign and display market was undergoing, bringing to that industry the same type of opportunity for improved productivity, new applications and better business management. It remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome will be as a result of the Cretaprint acquisition.   

I have worked with and/or followed EFI since 1992. The transformation the company has achieved under the leadership of CEO Guy Gecht and his team is impressive. Its success rate with acquisitions is even more impressive.  There are few companies inside or outside of our industry who have gotten the acquisition formula down as well as EFI has. 

It will be interesting to see where things land for EFI and its stakeholders a decade from now.  We’ll be watching and reporting!


By Charles Gehman on Oct 21, 2013

Unquestionably one of the greatest companies in the industry. Continuing to evolve and innovate. I'm proud to be an alum.


By John Henry on Oct 22, 2013

As a former PrintSmith user under both PC and EFI I am only sad I did not leave sooner. What a mess EFI was/is to work with.

They got tagged with two lines

Hear no flaws, see no flaws, therefore there are no flaws.

The one I wish I had come up with.

EFI the blackhole good programs go to die.



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