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Thursday, 21 May 2015 00:00

Why Bish Makes Sense for Lexmark SW

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You can't accuse Lexmark of being predictable and boring. Almost two months after announcing its surprise $1B bid for document capture market leader Kofax, today, Lexmark not only announced it had closed the deal, but that Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish was taking over as president of Lexmark Enterprise Software.

Most people in the industry had assumed that Bish, who has hired by Kofax in 2007 to drive up its valuation and sell the company, had successfully completed his mission and would move on.

Instead, we have Bish taking over for Scott Coons, who was basically the founder of Perceptive Software -  the rock on which Lexmark Enterprise Software was built. Lexmark acquired Perceptive in 2010 and followed that with several other software acquisitions all rolled up under the Perceptive flag. The result was a software business with run rate of approximately $350M, prior to the acquisition of Kofax, which now doubles the size of that business. The curveball, however, is that Coons, who is some 15 years Bish's junior, is taking his retirement while Bish takes the reins of Lexmark Enterprise software (which is what Perceptive was renamed earlier this year).

The said, Bish's appointment really makes perfect sense. When you add together the revenue of Kofax, ReadSoft (which Lexmark acquired last year) and the former Brainware (now Perceptive Intelligent Capture), capture now makes up at least $450M of Lexmark Enterprise Software's projected annual run rate of $700M. And who better to run a $450M capture software business than Bish?

In addition, for the past couple years at least, Bish's vision has been wider than capture. He executed a series of acquisitions while at Kofax to help transition the company into the emerging smart process application (SPA) space. In many ways, the portfolio that Kofax adds with Lexmark, will further beef up its SPA play. But the bottom line is that, as reflected in its name, Lexmark is striving to be an "enterprise software" company and that has also been Kofax's goal since Bish took over.  Bish put a lot of infrastructure and strategies in place to execute on that goal and will now be able to carry them over into Perceptive.

One other thing, as Lexmark Enterprise Software moves to reach its goal of a 25% operating income margin by 2016 (from approximately 10% at the end 2014 for the combined Kofax and Perceptive businesses), there are certainly some personnel cuts that are going to have to be made. Technically coming in from the outside may make this easier for Bish to do than Coons, who to date had been operating Perceptive on fairly low margins in part due to Lexmark's laissez-faire approach to software.

Not that Coons was doing a bad job. In fact, when Lexmark first acquired Perceptive, it promised it would let Coons run the software business without interference and to date, Coons noted in a call with DIR, Lexmark has done a great job of keeping its promises. This hands-off approach really enabled Lexmark to establish itself as a major ECM player - which many doubted it could do.

Coons told us he was flat out ready to retire after 20 years in a very competitive market and that he supported Bish as the man to succeed him. Bish is certainly no stranger to personnel turnover, as he was an agent of change when he took over Kofax in 2007 and helped mold it into a true enterprise software vendor. As a result, Bish is probably the best man for the job now that it is time to do some remolding at Lexmark Enterprise Software.

Congratulations Reynolds on your new appointment and Scott, best wishes in your retirement!

Read 6273 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2015 20:40

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