HQ: La Penne sur Huveaune, France and Doylestown, PA
Founded: TAGSYS was spun out of Gemplus, the world’s largest smartcard maker, in 2001, and its core technology dates back to 1988.
Management: CEO Frederic Coustere began working at Gemplus Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) division in 1995 and led a management buyout of TAGSYS in 2001. He previously worked at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Dassault, the French aeronautical company. Chief technology officer Alastair McArthur was CEO of an Australian RFID design company called Integrated Silicon Design. Gemplus acquired the company in 1999.
Investors: On April 18, the company closed a $12.2 million fourth round of financing. Investors included Elliott Associates, ENDEAVOUR, AXA Private Equity, Add Partners, Joint Investment Fund for Young Enterprises (FCJE), and Saffron Hill Ventures. The latest investment brings TAGSYS’ total financing to more than $43 million.
Business Model: TAGSYS is an RFID systems company that makes all the necessary components including tags, antennas, and reading stations. Major markets include security and access control, transportation, and asset tracking. The vertical applications can vary from textile rental, which includes the tracking of items such as a doctor’s scrubs as they are sent to an industrial laundry location, to libraries, where RFID tags streamline the book checkout, inventory maintenance, and check-in. TAGSYS says it has produced over 50 million RFID tags and 50 thousand reader systems.
Competitors: Texas Instruments, Impinj, Alien Technology, Intermec
Dirt: RFID has been The Next Big Thing for so long, it’s a wonder that industry-watchers can still muster any excitement. TAGSYS is in many ways the archetypal RFID company: toiling for many years, making gradual progress, but still waiting for its core markets to reach critical mass. The company has patiently waded through the standards issues that have slowed the industry and though the market continues to lag, this recent funding adds to the TAGSYS war chest and provides the company with some breathing room as it continues to wait for the RFID market to mature. As for when the market will reach a tipping point, there is no consensus: some analysts say as soon as 2006 – others are looking out as far as 2010.