Canon flying high with latest acquisition

Max Goldbart
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Canon has stepped up its digital services operation with the acquisition of mobile e-commerce platform Kite.ly.

The deal completed last week for an undisclosed sum after a “mutual meeting of minds” 18 months ago between Canon senior director of digital services Alberto Spinelli and Kite.ly co-founder and chief executive Charlie Carpenter. The two companies said they were looking to realise their joint vision of becoming “the internet’s print button”.

Spinelli said: “Within the Canon vision is playing a role in every image taken so the Kite.ly acquisition is a natural evolution. It gives us an opportunity to play a role in mobile print and makes it easy for people to translate memories and images in their devices into physical keepsakes. 

“We are bringing in a team of 12 super-smart people, very entrepreneurial, who will continue to help us shape the future of Canon. This adds a further strategic layer to our digital services platform that we started developing two years ago.”

Kite.ly, based in Shoreditch, London, helps its clients create revenue through personalised print. It works with companies and brands to embed its print platform into their apps and websites and operates with a global network of suppliers, a number of which are UK-based, to manufacture and ship those products. Following the acquisition, it will be looking to add suppliers to the network.

It sells more than 250 personalised print products, including books, greetings cards and t-shirts.

Kite.ly joins other digital service-offering Canon brands, including Lifecake, which it acquired in 2015, and Irista, a cloud-based image management platform developed by Canon in 2014.

Carpenter said that Kite.ly’s technology is currently installed on 200 million devices and that he believes with the backing of Canon this figure can hit the one billion mark.

“One of the things we were attracted to was the fact that Canon has made huge strides in digital transformation strategy,” said Carpenter. 

“We are going to stay as a standalone business just with the backing of a big global powerhouse.”

Kite.ly is looking to double or treble its workforce over the next 18 months and will be relocating to larger premises in the future as a result. It will retain its branding, name and logo.

Canon doesn’t have any immediate plans to acquire further businesses in the mobile space but, according to Spinelli, will be focusing over the next few months on “building a very solid joint proposition with Kite.ly”.

“We believe print from mobile is something that hasn’t really been tackled properly yet so we want to speed up solving that problem and be among the leaders in that future space,” he added. 

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