2016 has got off to a cracking start for Anoto with downstream acquisitions continuing at pace:
Anoto Group AB, announced (8th February 2016) that it has entered agreements to acquire three companies, We-Inspire, Pen Generations, and Destiny Wireless. These acquisitions provide Anoto with strategic growth opportunities in European and Asian markets, as well as enhanced product development capabilities in both hardware and software
According to Anoto CEO Stein Revelsby, the recent acquisition of Livescribe, was just the start. Through 2016 the business will continue it’s strategy to “further expand our other business pillars that include solutions across Documents and Data Capture, Business Collaboration, Creative and Learning, combining to form a platform that realizes true multi-surface digital writing and drawing in a collaborative environment”
Logically, these acquisition targets should be a tight fit within the Anoto stable, with the Company already holding investments in all three businesses. Taking out remaining equity however should enable the Anoto Management Team to deliver a consolidation of the multi-surface interactive displays and digital pen ecosystem under the company’s direct management and control. Benefits to resellers and partners should also be realised in better collaboration opportunities and potentially a more harmonious structure to the partner channels.
All three businesses have built really interesting products utilising the Anoto SDKs and core functionality of surface data capture. The We-Inspire product is a unique interactive wall system that lets you write and draw with pen and paper or bring in input from any of your devices into a shared workflow. The product has found an early market within Education and both Industrial and Commercial design and continues to expand it’s business across these markets, taking the interactive whiteboard concept off the wall and onto multiple surfaces such as notebooks and tablets.
At the time originally Anoto acquired 51% of Destiny Wireless UK for a reported deal involving cash and shares, in 2011 the deal included an option to purchase the remaining 49 percent of the shares in Destiny Wireless by 2014. This was subject to a company valuation which is the higher of twelve times profit before tax or 1.2 times revenues. Over that period the Company repositioned under the trading name INKWRX™ focussing sales efforts on a platform that creates e-forms for data capture with either a tablet device or digital pen and paper.
It is not entirely clear the impact that acquisition has on remote market related entities to Destiny Wireless (such as Destiny Wireless South Africa or Destiny Wireless Australia) although it appears these businesses have operated as separate entities related by brand (and OEM product) only for some time.
The education vertical has been a area of strong interest in digital writing. Pen Generations, founded in 2011 as a joint venture between Anoto, T-Study, and Amicus, is a leading smartpen and digital writing start-up based in Seoul, South Korea, that develops education and learning products leveraging Anoto’s technology. The JV partners have a deep integration in Korea. This acquisition will provides Anoto with a strategic entry point to the Asian market. Based on the anecdotal experience Pendata Asia has with end user preferred barrel and point size within South East Asian markets, the effect of getting the OEM closer to the end user will no doubt speed product development in user experience also.
And finally, with all this planned and current activity where will everyone at Anoto offices sit? In the UK at least this wont be a problem – the UK site to add another 15 staff over 2016 and move to new offices in the coming month (see above) – I like the one on the top floor right corner 😉