The seed for a next Teamviewer

IIn German industry, a company story must be written in the style of Teamviewer: from a start-up under the aegis of private equity to a large company that wants to set an industry standard with a new technology product. According to information from the FAZ, financial investor Nordic Capital is acquiring the mini scanner manufacturer Proglove, the contract has just been signed. Nordic Capital partner Rainer Lenhard confirmed this upon request. He did not want to comment on the value of the company: market experts estimate it around half a billion euros.

The CEO is an old acquaintance of the industry: former Teamviewer boss Andreas König. He is planning a rise like that of the Göppingen-based company which is now listed on M-Dax and is widely known for its remote computer maintenance. Asked if development as Teamviewer with Proglove can be expected, König replied in the FAZ interview: “This is the plan, yes. The company really has the potential to go really big.” Second director is Thomas Nowak , who used to work as CFO for Teamviewer – both of them have known each other very well since that time.

Hands-free scanning in the warehouse

Proglove – founded as Workaround GmbH – manufactures barcode scanners worn on cuffs or gloves by logistics and production employees. They’re the size of a matchbox and weigh up to two two-euro coins. The devices keep people’s hands free, unlike conventional scanner guns, and are meant to make barcode scanning easier and faster. This plays a role in automotive manufacturing, for example, where employees document every single component installed. An important customer – and an early one – is BMW. Employees activate the scanner with a flick of the thumb. According to König, they save around four seconds on each scan compared to a scanner gun, which equates to a sizable amount with around a thousand car scans in production.

Furthermore, the device is ergonomically more favorable and therefore health-friendly, hence the topic. According to the company’s website, other customers from the automotive industry include the Volkswagen Group with several subsidiaries of the brand and also come from traditional industry, such as Thyssenkrupp, from trade such as Mediamarkt or from transport such as DHL and Schenker. They use products called “wearables” in industrial parlance in their warehouses. On the other hand, the devices have not yet been seen in the hands of couriers. Proglove’s competitors are the two American companies Honeywell and Zebra. According to management, Proglove holds more than 50 patents; the first gloves were sold in 2016. At the moment there is an annual turnover in the double-digit millions, but the growth is said to be 30% annually.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t

Of course, the promotional fantasy can turn out to be a dream in hindsight. Financial investor KKR and his partner Philipp Freise were planning the “second SAP” years ago when they took over the Frankfurt IT specialist Arago. Nothing came of it. On the other hand, Teamviewer, founded in 2005, is an example of a company that received little attention when a financial investor – in this case Permira – took over it in 2014, incidentally for a similar amount to the current one, i.e. 800 million euros. König managed Teamviewer from 2015 to the end of 2017, Nowak joined in 2016. At the end of 2018, König joined Proglove to replace co-founder Thomas Kirchner as CEO.

The most important shareholder is the US financial investor Summit Partners, others are Bayern Kapital and Deutsche Invest Capital Partners (DIVC). Originally, the American chip maker Intel was also involved. The seller reportedly hired investment bank Goldman Sachs for the transaction, while Nordic Capital is said to have acted without an advisor. The investor is now involved in traditional industry in Germany for the first time. In April it debuted in another sector in this country, namely the financial services sector. It acquired three of the ten largest German credit brokers and merged them into one provider.

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