HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler started Monday with a bang.
His company, a giant in personal computer and printing, said it would buy Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion. Weisler’s hope is that the deal would help HP
better compete in the copy machine market and help offset declining sales of printers.
HP said Samsung’s printing business brought in $1.8 billion in sales for its fiscal 2015. This number is just a fraction of HP’s overall printing business, which brought in $21.2 billion in 2015, an 8.5% drop from 2014. Still, HP believes that the Samsung deal will help it be more competitive in a tough printer market.
In an interview with Fortune on Monday, Weisler explained his rationale for the acquisition and how he believes it will give the struggling HP Inc. the momentum it needs. Here’s an edited version of the talk with Weisler:
Fortune: What’s the big takeaway from this billion-dollar deal?
Weisler: What we’re doing is disrupting an outdated, old $55 billion copier market with superior multi-function printing, and that’s the core takeaway. We have low market share here, we’ve acquired more than 6,500 patents, 1,300 of the best engineers in Korea along with other folks around the world. Our ability now to enter into this space and disrupt it is just fantastic.
How long have you been planning this acquisition?
The genesis here is that we began this journey with Samsung when we declared back at our security analyst meeting [last September] that we would become serious about getting into the A3 copier space [A3 generally refers to a paper size of 11″ x 17″] . So we looked at the entire market to find technology that could disrupt traditional copiers. We started working with Samsung and the more we got into it, the more we understood the value of the their disruptive technology, and the sheer number of highly relevant patents that they’ve created in a very short period of time.
When I think of other disruptive technology, I can’t help but think of 3D printing. Should we be expecting more HP acquisitions in the 3D printing space?
Well, 3D printing is, of course, an entirely new category [HP showed off its new 3D printers earlier this summer]. We are incredibly excited by our multi-jet fusion technology—we think it’s game changing. It’s a real stand out for plastics, short-run production, and frankly in the future when the cost of materials comes down, for long-run production as well as traditional prototyping. We have other materials in the wheelhouse and we see a road to [3D printing] ceramics in parts.
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The acquisitions we make will always be on a returns-based framework for our shareholders, and we won’t buy companies for share-sake—we will buy technologies.
Are there certain technologies that you feel will augment your current 3D-printing technology?
We look at all sorts of technologies all the time. We did a very small acquisition about six weeks ago for 3D-printing scanning software and hardware from David [Germany-based scanning software company David Vision Systems]. We constantly scout Silicon Valley and we constantly scout Israel with more than 5,000 startups in the country.
Tell me how pulling off a deal of this size was easier since HP split from Hewlett Packard Enterprise
in November. HPE appears to be selling off parts of its business while HP just made a big acquisition.
I’m not going to comment on Hewlett Packard Enterprise. We separated from each other in order to propel the companies forward, and I think the separation has enabled us to run at a much faster pace, to innovate faster, to change our channel [reseller] programs, and to make these kinds of acquisitions.
When we wake up everyday, all we think about is printing and personal systems. We can reinvest back in this business. In the past, we were all competing for those very precious investment dollars.
How do you plan to blend together the two different company cultures of HP Inc. and Samsung?
Of course we are a global company today. We have representation in Korea as we do in almost every other country on the globe. We don’t discount the need for cultural integration.
Personally, I’ve worked in Asia for more than ten years, and I have managed Korea for more than ten years. I have a very good understanding of the culture there. What’s amazing to me are the similarities between Samsung and HP— they are both very engineering-rich organizations. Culturally there’s a common thread between the DNA of HP and the DNA of Samsung. There will be work to do with cultural integration. It is something I will personally take control of.
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Will you bring Samsung engineers to your research arm, HP Labs?
Absolutely. I’ve done this in other companies in the past.
One of the key things you do is bring top talent from Korea into top sites around the world—into HP labs or into the business units—wherever they’ve got people. And then you take people from our current sites and you put them into Korea. You really select top talent, and then the teams start to learn each other’s vernacular and start integrating. And then you send them back and you bring a new set of folks in, and this is how you bridge the seams between the different cultures.