The introduction of the video interview Morten from Inkish.tv had with me, contains some quotes and promises from Benny Landa. These are only a few quotes. In preparation of that interview with Morten, I dug up many articles from the past. Below are the links to the original articles, the most interesting quotes and, if relevant, more about the topics of the interviews. Some quotes are rather revealing… I do encourage you to take the time to read the complete articles, not just my selection of quotes. Oh, by the way, I have made digital copies of those articles, just in case they suddenly disappear from the websites!
Most of the articles I will link are from Globes, an Israelian business newspaper. I’m not a regular Globes reader, but when researching my ‘drupa‘ article two years ago, I accidentally came across this business newspaper. The first article I found was the one from 2014, where Benny Landa claimed the machines would be ready “One year from today”.
Below are multiple articles, interviews with Benny Landa. I’m listing most of them chronologically, starting with the prelude for drupa 2012. At the end, I’ll also mention a few older articles, on Indigo and the sale to HP. Emphasis in bold is always mine.
But let’s first start with the one I already shared in the drupa article.
Introduction: “True, in 2012 he already reported orders totaling billions of dollars for the nano-graphic printerthat he is developing, but actually, he has been looking for financing for the past 18 months.”
Globes: “You obtained $1 billion in orders, but how binding are they on the people who made the orders?”
Landa: “When you can make a product only after two or three years, it’s never an order set in stone. We explained to the customers that anyone who wants to keep his place in line has to make an order with a deposit in the tens of thousands of euros, so that we don’t waste time on non-serious customers.”
Globes: “When will the machines actually be ready?”
Landa: “One year from today.”
The journalist asks more questions about why he is late with the machine launch, which was supposed to be in 2013. According to Landa, it’s mainly due to a redesign of the machines, after the feedback they got from potential customers during drupa 2012 (which is plausible). When asked if customers are waiting, Landa replies: “They’re waiting. A few months here or there don’t matter to them. The fact is that today, even though they have the option of canceling, we have the same number of orders we had then – over 4,000.” I assume that 4.000 is a typo or a lapsus, in other articles, the number mentioned is 400. Landa also says that the big advantage is the simplicity, I’m not sure about that… It’s inkjet with an extra variable: the heated belt. Adding variables usually means more complexity, not more simplicity. The added belt might even be the cause of the registration issue I’ve noticed in all the samples I’ve seen.
Also interesting is this quote: “I wanted to be HP, not to be sold to it.”
Further chronological list
02/04/2012: Benny Landa to unveil nanography digitalprinting
From that article: “Landa Corp. was founded by Benny Landa in 2002, after HP acquired digital printing company Indigo, which he founded 25 years earlier. (…) The Landa Nanographic Printing process is the result of ten years of nanotechnology research. It is a true breakthrough that enables our presses to achieve amazing results. (…)”
It also mentions a “remarkable abrasion and scratch resistance”. Which confuses me: the first sample I got, got a nasty scratch, probably from the edge of the sheet when it was rolled up, as you can see in this article.
29/04/2012: Landa’s nanographic co teams with Komori
An article about Israeli presence at drupa 2012, from the introduction: “The local representatives included two especially interesting companies. One is Benny Landa’s Landa, which announced a month ago that it would lead a new digital revolution in the printing world.”
From the article: “Benny Landa is considering raising $100-200 million for his nanographic printing company, Landa Digital Printing, six months after unveiling the technology. (…) Landa will reportedly hold the financing round at a company value of $1 billion for the company, a unit of Landa Corporation. (…) He claims that the company obtained orders for hundreds of printers, and that down payments were paid for some of them, even though no deliveries will be made before late 2013.”
This article includes some info about the IPO from Indigo (which I had already forgot about). From the article: “Shortly afterwards, Indigo held an IPO on Nasdaq at $1 billion, the value that Landa is seeking for his new venture. Indigo’s market cap rose quickly, until problems emerged, causing its value to plummet, upsetting investors, (…)”
28/10/2012: Landa: Nano promises printing revolution
Benny Landa: “We launched the product in Germany a few months ago, and demonstrated many products – seven prototypes. We expected interest, but we didn’t expect to have sales. We received more than $1 billion in orders at one exhibition.”
From those seven prototypes, only the S10 and it’s perfecting brother S10P have been installed at customer sites. Can you consider a ‘Letter of Intent’ as an order?
25/06/2014: Altana invests $135m in Landa Digital Printing
Benny Landa: “The proceeds will be used for completing the development of Nanography, Landa’s water-based digital printing process, including engineering and production ramp-up of Landa Nanographic Printing Presses and building of manufacturing plants for Landa Nano ink colorants. (…) That’s a very big investment. Up until now, I’ve been financing the company alone, and this is too big for a private person.”
14/06/2016: Landa Digital Printing takes orders worth €450m
These orders, I wonder, is that on top of the orders Landa claimed to have received at the previous drupa? Or is it a part of that 1 billion mentioned previously, now turning their ‘Letter of Intents’ to real orders?
From the article: “Landa Digital Printing converted major interest into orders worth €450 million at the drupa international printing trade fair in Germany. (…) Landa reported numerous multiple-press deals, demonstrating market confidence in Landa and its Nanographic Printing presses.”
Interesting: numerous multiple-press deals… How many customers have more than one Landa press installed at this moment, 6 years later? Not one. There is one company that recently announced the purchase of a second one, but it’s not installed yet.
“Customers are telling us that no one comes even close to matching our quality, speed, substrate independence and print cost, which combine to create a tremendous value proposition.”
29/09/2016: Benny Landa: “Globes” entrepreneur of the decade
From the article: “The rapidly approaching year 2017 will be the year of Landa Digital Printing’s commercial breakthrough. (…) Following last May’s quadrennial Drupa Exhibition, the world’s leading printing solutions exhibition, the company received orders worth over €450 million for the machines it developed, the first of which it will begin supplying next year.”
Indeed, the first press was installed in 2017, but it was only 1 press, in 2018 it was also just one press. (you can find the complete list of installments in the already mentioned drupa article)
Globes: “How does it feel to see another of your companies succeed? Do you get up in the morning, pat yourself on the back, and say, ‘I did it again’?”
Landa: “No, not yet, because Landa Digital Printing is only getting started. We achieved technology and commercial milestones, but we’re not supplying the machines yet, and we haven’t posted revenue from them yet.”
And here is the most amazing quote from Benny Landa of all of the articles, a quote on the transition from analogue to digital printing: “For almost 40 years, I was the only one pushing for it.”
Really??? And what about Lucien De Schamphelaere, founder of Xeikon, plus the complete Xeikon team. Or all the people at Xerox? Or the people from CAP Ventures (which became InfoTrends and now Keypoint Intelligence), who also organized the ‘On Demand’ conference? And let’s not forget prof. em. Frank Romano, who has been promoting digital print for a very long time. And I could add many more to this list…
This article is rather long, but a good read! It also provides a lot of history.
Dr. Giora Yaron served as the president of Indigo nv. In the article he talks about his days at Indigo.
27/06/2018: Landa Digital Printing raises $300m
Benny Landa: “This financing will create swift growth now that we have begun to provide our Nanography printing machines to customers worldwide.”
Interestingly, the new investor, SKion GmbH, is owned by the same person as the other investor: Altana Group.
From the article: “(…) and Landa says business is going well, “thanks to very strong demand and the market need for digital printing.” ”
This is not from Globes, but from another source. And to be honest, I don’t know how to interpret this…
But something is interesting in this article: “Landa Digital Printing (LDP) has hired Bank of America to lead the move. Landa is targeting a $2 billion valuation, 20 times the company’s annual revenue of around $50 million.”
So, Landa Digital Printing is supposed to have an annual revenu of around 50 million US$. How does it get to that number? In August 2021, only 16 presses had been installed, only one new installment in 2021. So, let’s say this 50 million US$ turnover is from 2020, 7 presses were installed. Let’s take the sales figure of 7 presses, plus consumables for the 16 in total, does this add up to 50 million US$ turnover? Especially if the technology is supposed to be the most price competitive on the market? Or does Landa Digital Printing also has other revenue sources, like patents?
Added 24/06/2022: to put that turnover and especially the targeted valuation in perspective, I checked the numbers of some other (digital) press vendors:
Heidelberg, annual revenue: 1,9 billion euro; market capitalization (23/06/2022): 465,85 million euro
Koenig & Bauer, annual revenue: 1,115 billion euro, market capitalization: 229,03 million euro
Xerox: annual revenue: 7,04 billion US$, market capitalization: 2,43 billion US$
HP (the complete company, not just HP Indigo): annual revenue: 63,49 billion US$, market capitalization: 32,82 billion US$
In Belgium companies must publish their balance sheets annually, within 6 months if I recall correctly, via the National Bank. This is publicly available information. I tried to find out if there is something similar in Israel, but I didn’t find it.
Articles on (HP) Indigo
Globes has a couple more articles on Benny Landa, from the Indigo days and after HP acquired Indigo. Here are a few, again in chronological order.
14/08/1997: Indigo: The Share Went Crazy
I had forgotten entirely about this: the IPO, the rize and the downfall.
From the article: “It ballooned up to an imaginary company value of $3.3 billion, and a share that jumped hundreds of points.”
Benny Landa: “There were a lot of problems. Clients were losing money, the machines weren’t reliable, and there was no market at all. Today, two years later, it’s all the other way around. The customer base is wonderful, the machine works beautifully, the market is up, the company’s foundations are strong, but for anyone on the outside looking in, Indigo looks awful.”
“The Indigo printers suffered from reliability problems. The company had to bring in one engineer for every two machines sold, clients seldom used their new machines, and potential clients shied away”
In those days, I heard a rumor that if you bought one Indigo machine, you got a second one for free, for spare parts, and engineer on site. So at least part of that seems to have been true…
09/09/2001: Landa: No cutbacks or layoffs at Indigo
It’s a short article, with some claims on market share, plus the deal with HP.
03/06/2003: The Landa way
This is the final one, and a nice one to conclude this overview. And it’s worth reading, e.g. the reasons Benny Landa mentions why small businesses wouldn’t invest in digital printers…
Globes: “Why didn’t it happen?”
Landa: “There was a combination of reasons. A key factor was that we were an Israeli company, and you have to understand your customer’s mentality.” For the rest of that reasoning, you have to check the article at the Globes website…
Landa: “We were the technology leader, and were the first on the market with digital printers.”
It’s a bit more complicated than that. Two companies can claim to be first on the market of full color digital presses: Xeikon showed their DCP-1 at the same Ipex exhibition in 1993. The Indigo press release about their press, was sent out a few days before the press conference from Xeikon (that press conference had been announced earlier, but without full details of what was going to be announced). You can read all about this in this excellent article by Dutch journalist Ed Boogaard (please note that there are a few paragraphs in Dutch at the top, below is everything in English, look for the subtitle ‘Single pass duplex’, there the story starts). From the article, on the fact that Indigo published his press release a few days before their press conference: “De Schamphelaere didn’t think his premiere had been overshadowed by it: “We will be first to go to market and to demonstrate it.” ”
Back to the Globes article.
Landa: “The product wasn’t ready, it wasn’t sufficiently reliable, and it therefore needed a lot of support. But that wasn’t the problem.”
And here is a last quote from that article, to conclude…
Globes: “What does the Indigo lab do now?”
Landa: “We’re working on a number of projects: two in printing; one in nanoparticle manufacturing; (…)”
Why is this important?
It’s good to know the history of things. To reflect on what happened in the past and how that might relate to today, and maybe the future. But people tend to have a short memory, especially regarding promises of a future that will be entirely different.
When digging deeper into this, I had to think a lot about the X-files, and especially the title of the movie: “I want to believe” (the amazing promises), and the tagline of the series: “The truth is out there”.
PS: in case you haven’t seen the interview, here it is.
PS2: here is something you might also find interesting, it’s part of the white paper Landa Digital Printing published in the past.