The news of Alon Bar-Shany’s departure from HP-Indigo, a company that he has run for the past 15 years, was first reported by Israeli technology publication, Ctech. Subsequently, an HP spokesperson confirmed the news and the appointment of HP veteran Haim Levit to take his place. Levit, who currently resides in Boston in the US, will move to Israel during the summer. Bar-Shany has agreed to stay on for a smooth transition.
To us, in India, Bar-Shany’s departure is a bit of a shock since he is young and has led the company from the front, frequently visiting the country and meeting up with customers and taking part in their launches of HP Indigo equipment. When we asked an industry expert in the UK as to what might be the reason, he said that although he too couldn’t be sure, it might be that Bar-Shany wanted to retire and perhaps saw that the future is inkjet and where HP would likely be investing more in the future.
Bar-Shany brought Indigo technology to global markets and expanded its reach into the packaging segment. Although the ‘liquid toner’ or ‘electroink’ technology invented by Benny Landa was first presented at Ipex in Birmingham in 1994, it only took off when HP bought out Landa in 2001, stabilized the technology, and invested heavily in its ink supply chain and marketing.
Indigo gained significant market share with Alon Bar-Shany as its global champion, especially as he became the head of HP Indigo in 2005. CTech reports that the reason for Bar-Shany’s departure was that he did not agree with HP’s plan to dramatically reduce the workforce numbers at HP Indigo’s sprawling research and development site in Rehovot in Israel.
However, HP’s statement says, “Haim Levit has been appointed as general manager of HP Indigo. He succeeds Alon Bar-Shany, who has successfully led HP Indigo for more than 15 years. We are grateful to Alon for all he has done to make Indigo the market leader in digital printing, and we will benefit from his many contributions to our business for years to come.”
An HP spokesperson added to Australia’s Sprinter, “After Bar-Shany’s 15 years in the role as head of HP Indigo, it was time to implement succession planning. . . Alon built a deep bench of talented leaders, and Haim is the right leader at the right time to lead Indigo forward.”
In March 2020, Bar-Shany presided over the launch of Indigo’s new range of printing technologies, including the HP Indigo 100K digital ‘born to run’ press meant for the drupa 2020 exhibition, now postponed to 2021. Bar-Shany will stay with HP to ensure a seamless transition during the coming weeks and months.
I think the loss of Bar-Shany is a massive loss to HP-Indigo. He is known for being close to Indigo customers, and we know he has been helpful to Indian customers as recently as the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
Although I was not one of the trade journalists particularly close to him, we saw each other maybe 20 times in the past 20 years – at shows including Ipex, drupa, Labelexpo, interpacks, Igas, and perhaps a few times on press junkets to Singapore, Israel, and Australia.
He is a young and brilliant organizer and communicator. His quick grasp of the intricacies of new things such as digital cartons and flexible packaging have shown a great focus on making the future possible. At each successive event, he would add a piece to the puzzle of label and packaging printing and converting, recognizing that HP Indigo needed to collaborate with companies that had the requisite domain expertise.
Examples abound, such as the tie-up with a European converting equipment manufacturer for its expertise in film web handling and lamination and with another for adding a coater. I have heard him speak about flat whites and better and cheaper flat whites at LabelExpo and have always admired him for showing shelves of consumer products printed on the Indigo at every show. He has the imagination to see that the most exciting thing about what we do is the packaging itself and its shelf-impact. Like many others, I was keen to know the real reason for his departure, where he is going, and what the actual financial numbers of the HP Indigo are.
Gareth Ward answered my question in his brilliant article in Print Business a few days ago (10 June 2020). He wrote – “The Indigo division is understood to be profitable, with revenue of [US]$ 1.8 billion divided between hardware, software and consumables. It employs 2,800 in Israel and has 1,000 staff elsewhere in the world.” Ward also writes about HP Indigo’s V12 concept press and the HP PageWide T250 that the company expected to show at the drupa that never was.