Cloud

Plex Systems gets $30M from Accel to push manufacturing into the cloud

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Plex Systems, the cloud-based planning and management tool for manufacturers, has received significant strategic investment from Silicon Valley firm, Accel Partners.

For $30 million, Accel will gain a seat on the company’s board, alongside Francisco Partners, which acquired Troy, Mich.-based Plex Systems earlier this year. With this new infusion of capital, Plex will continue to migrate its customers — primarily in the high-tech, electronics and automotive industries — from on-premise systems to the cloud. The company offers production, inventory, quality, human capital, and financial management tools, which are visible via the Web.

According to the company’s  CEO Mark Symonds, the cloud can help manufacturers cater to international markets. “Globalization and today’s pace of business requires manufacturers in all industries to be increasingly transparent, nimble and cost efficient, and these attributes demand cloud solutions,” he said in an interview.

The company, which was founded over two decades ago, competes with tech giants like Infor and SAP — but there may be room for multiple players as manufacturing still accounts for about a third of the U.S. economy.

Symonds claims the company has seen 30 percent year-over-year growth, with quarterly revenue growth increasing each quarter for over 20 consecutive quarters — impressive and somewhat unusual for a software as a service play. However, the company has experienced its ups and downs. Symonds told ZDnet columnist Dennis Howlett that when the company shifted from on-premise to SaaS, it took a 20 percent revenue hit.

In the first quarter of 2013, Symonds told me they will be hiring 16 new employees to add to the 260-person team, which will augment the R&D efforts. Initially, the company served automotive clients, but has recently been able to expand its client-base to include defense and high-tech customers.

Accel is one of the firms in Silicon Valley that has ramped up its investment in enterprise computing — they raised a $100 million fund dedicated to “Big Data” startups. In a recent interview with Accel Partners’ Ping Li, he told me that the firm has noticed “people embracing enterprise technologies like never before.”

Industrial chemistry image // hans engbers, Shutterstock