|Ex Libris, one of Walden Israel’s Fund II investments, has come a long way since its founding. What began as a make-shift start-up dedicated to developing an integrated library system to deal with a “Hebrew speaking” library, working out of the labs in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has become a technological leader in the field of library automation and information services. In the last year alone, over 200 libraries and institutions around the world joined the ALEPH installed base bringing the total number of sites to 1250 in 51 countries.
A Modest Beginning
“Ex Libris is clearly one of the most successful venture-backed companies in Israel,” notes Roni Hefetz, general partner at Walden Israel. “In the past several years, it has shown tremendous growth -- with revenues increasing from $6M to $25M. It is hard to believe that this company has only raised $4 million,” said Hefetz. “The company has kept a low profile throughout its life cycle, with no brassy PR.”
Walden Israel invested in Ex Libris with Tamar Technology in 1999-- the company’s only round of outside financing. Azriel Morag, the founder of Ex Libris, acted as CEO for many years and has recently taken on the position of Chairman. Since its inception,
Ex Libris has continued to excel in the library automation market, winning over some of the most prestigious names in the academic world, including The British Library, MIT, Harvard University, and the National Library of China.
“As digital content begins to replace traditional library media, huge opportunities begin to be recognized in the data management market,” Hefetz added. According to Matti Shem Tov, who recently joined the company as President & CEO, “Ex Libris’ fastest growing markets are in Asia and China. Today, approximately 40% of the company’s business is in the US and 50% in Europe.”
The development of the Ex Libris ALEPH system commenced in 1980, when a team of librarians, systems analysts, and programmers took on the challenge of creating an automated library system that was efficient, user-friendly, and multilingual. Identifying and fulfilling the requirements for a superior integrated library system have served as a technological springboard. Today, with four working generations of software in hand, Ex Libris continues to set the standards for library and information systems for higher education, public, national and research libraries.
Ex Libris continues to make software development a priority. The Company's responsive research and development team, which includes members of the original ALEPH development group, works closely with current and potential customers to turn new ideas into cutting-edge technologies. Ex Libris aims to combine software strengths and library acumen to provide real solutions for the constantly evolving needs of libraries and information centers. “In the past year we have invested heavily in R&D, releasing new versions and updated product offerings,” noted ShemTov. Before joining Ex Libris, Shem Tov served as President of Surecomp, a banking software solution provider with a worldwide customer base.
Three additional products round out the Ex Libris suite--MetaLib®, a front-end portal to academic resources, SFX®, a context sensitive delivering powerful linking services in the scholarly information environment, and DigiTool, a solution for manage, control, and share digital collections as components of an overall digital strategy.
Global Customers & Worldwide Presence
Ex Libris’ top-of-line customer base speaks for itself. The list includes major university libraries, public libraries, banks and institutions around the world: In Israel, Ex Libris products can be found in the Israel Supreme Court, the Israel Parliament, The Technion, Israeli Institute of Technology, and the Weitzman Institute. In Asia the Company is represented at the National Library of China, Beijing Normal University, and the National Central Library in Taiwan. Europe, one of Ex Libris’ largest markets boasts the University of Vienna, The Royal Library of Belgium, The National Bank of Belgium, the Central Bank of Spain, as well as the British Library. The US customer list includes Harvard University, Boston University, the University of Notre Dame, University of California, University of Maryland, Brown University, and Columbia University. Important Australian and South African customers include The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University and the University of Cape Town.
Ex Libris is represented in 27 countries around the world across six continents, with subsidiaries in the US, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, France, Israel, Brazil, China and Australia.
Leader in Industry Standards
Because of its dominant and influential position in the integrated library system market, Ex Libris is committed to and deeply involved in the development of industry standards. Company employees are active in key national and international standards bodies. This involvement with industry standards ensures that a system adopted today will continue to be a good investment in the future. The Ex Libris suite of products supports a wide range of standards that guarantee interoperability with other systems.
Shem Tov has spent the past year finalizing the restructuring of the Company’s corporate headquarters and subsidiaries. “The challenges for 2004 are to keep introducing leading products into the market, increase growth and profitability, and to continue to be the leader in our software market,” says Shem Tov. “My management philosophy has always focused on finding a team of enthusiastic, creative, and dynamic individuals who are motivated, hungry and above all team players. We set our targets high and work together to achieve mutually defined goals.”