Monday, January 25, 2010

Microvision: Open Letter to Microvision CEO Alex Tokman (update)

I’ll be the first one to admit that at times we all fall into this trap of making rash judgment based on who said what where and when.

Given the time for the initial reaction to settle down and with a little bit more patience, today I see, for whatever it is worth, the positive side of the information shared by CEO Alex Tokman at his interview of January 7th. Having reviewed the events over the last twenty days and listening to the interview several times again, I must admit I got the intended message somewhat wrong. If I was given the opportunity to retract my original post, I would probably say things little differently today.

Here’s what I see today…

Over the last twenty days the “perfect storm” has lost strength after we had the opportunity to rationalize events that caused such turmoil in the first place.

On January 11th, I wrote about the “perfect storm” at Microvision in my blog at…
http://www.mirro7.blogspot.com/

In summary what I said…

“What we have seen over the past 48 hours is the “perfect storm” brewing in the future of Microvision. It started with Asia Optical making public comments [as perceived] in the media about TI having the best pico solution for embedded applications. It picked-up more gale force after the in-house staged CEO interview where Alex indicated more delays and future uncertainties. It became a perfect storm of hurricane force magnitude over the PC Magazine review of SHOWwx.”

“Individually these negative issues are easy to deal with because they have a reasonable explanation... and as such may or may not have an impact on the MVIS share price in the short term. However, collectively they are the recipe for a “perfect storm” and may precipitate an investor sell-off first and then look for explanation later... and that could be very damaging to the overall investor psyche.”

Now twenty days after the CEO interview, let’s review the three elements of this perfect storm to see how things stack-up today…

Asia Optical Comments about TI Pico Solution
Asia Optical is a relatively new supply chain partner of Microvision with a relationship that formed just over a year ago. When AO makes comments that favor TI pico solution; it is understandable since Asia Optical has years of existing and ongoing relationship with them. So we can put that aside and consider it a minor twister in the way large corporations stick together and pay more attention to their current revenue source rather than go out of their way to support the business plan of a newcomer [like Microvision] with a glowing future potential.

Granted, that AO could have said something complimentary to TI without stating the “DLP pico(TM) as the most compelling solution to provide our customers due to its superior image quality, small form factor and energy delivering efficiency”. When you look at the choice of words that AO used, it is easy to mistakenly take it as saying that DLP pico(TM) solution is the best for embedded applications. However, that is not the case and I don’t see the words of AO saying that either.

First of all, Asia Optical knows that pico(TM) is the registered trade mark of Microvision. And DLP pico solution may not be the best when compared to laser based PicoP solution from Microvision for embedded applications. However, since there are no embedded pico display engines from Microvision to be found on planet earth as yet… and considering the existing pico technologies out there currently, the DLP pico solution is perhaps the most compelling solution etc. etc.

Interview with Microvision CEO Alex Tokman
On January 7th, Alex Tokman gave an interview that was posted at the company’s blog site The Displayground.

Here’s the link to the interview...
http://www.microvision.com/displayground/

After listening to the CEO interview, I had, just like many others, a mixed bag of reaction…

• The first and foremost was to congratulate the management for taking the bold initiative to communicate with the stakeholders at the blog in such an informal setting. The Displayground has been a leap of faith in the way a corporation, such as Microvision, has embraced the Internet to communicate with its stakeholders.

• Since investors of Microvision, and I’m one of them, have such high expectations of the management, that at first blush the interview looks so stiff and staged. But when you look at the interview again and pay more attention to the subject matter, rather than watch the body language of Alex Tokman, it kind of grows on you.

• Both the timing and the intended [or unintended] information disseminated at this interview left the investors with a perception of further delays in green laser production and also delays in the release of PDE [PicoP Display Engine] evaluation units to OEMs for embedded applications. That in my opinion was the center of this “perfect storm” brewing over at Microvision.

It’s not very often, if ever, that you see the CEO of a company give an informal interview to release information that could have some serious consequences to not only its stock price but also raise questions about future time lines etc. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what this interview did... precipitate a stock sell-off and did some serious damage to the credibility of Microvision management.

First the timing...

The timing of this in-house interview with Microvision CEO couldn’t have been the worst move in the history of Microvision. It tops all the other “blunders” the top Management [past and present] has made over the years. Unfortunately, it effectively neutralized any positive impact of the CES 2010 award that Microvision received as the “Last Gadget Standing” for its SHOWwx projector.

All that reaction was looking at the interview from 20 days ago and making a rash judgment call.

Today, with a bit of patience and reviewing the interview again you will see the positive aspects that you may have missed before. To get the most out of this interview, it is best to listen to it again [a few times] and make sure to keep your skepticism of the management out of the way.

Here we go…
http://www.microvision.com/displayground/

PC Magazine Review
On January 7th, PC Magazine published their findings of SHOWwx pico projector review. Boy, oh boy! Talk about perfect timing to join in the storm brewing at Microvision.

First, here’s the link...
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2357640,00.asp

Whatever their motivation, the PC Magazine didn't have a “Single” good thing to say about Microvision’s SHOWwx. It's like the reviewer went out of his way to look for and focus on the negatives. Absolutely “Nothing” impressed him about SHOWwx at all.

Everything we have seen and heard about SHOWwx tells us that it's an impressive, even jaw-dropping pico projector with stunning image quality and vivid colors. Everything PC Magazine tells us is: it's missing a couple of lumens, it washes out in minimal light, it has speckles, its cables are too stiff, it's got a green line across the bottom, and it's overpriced. Without saying so, this guy even hinted that it could burn your eyes out, but thank God humans are programmed to blink before that happens! I am really surprised PC Magazine reviewer didn't dump on SHOWwx battery life [longer than anyone else], heat generation [none at all] and bow-tie effect too.

When you compare the stack of favorable reviews from multiple reviewers and one bad review from PC Magazine, it makes you wonder and very suspicious towards the reviewer.

Having realized that, I did some research and wrote a post on the blog…

“PC Magazine Review is Full of Crap, Flawed, and Biased”

Here’s the link…
http://mirro7.blogspot.com/2010/01/microvision-pc-magazine-review-is-full.html

There was obvious intent here to neutralize the SHOWwx most powerful strength, its projected image size and image quality, and this PC Magazine review did just that. This was well thought out by a cunning mind not some nitwit journalist on the take. It was most likely written well in advance and this clown simply put his name on it.

In my opinion, and the opinion of many others that I respect, the PC Magazine review is not only flawed but it is also biased.

As for SHOWwx projector image quality, a picture speaks a thousand words. Just look at the latest videos and think for yourself...

http://www.youtube.com/user/mvisvideo#p/a/u/1/F2qnrOsg6w

or this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e_rKfi8xCU&feature=related

or this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0TQqQor0H0&feature=related

or this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSz-gmF-UwI&feature=related

Or this for the large screen experience…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvbRyYAevQw

Then there is this glowing review by Melissa Arseniuk for Canwest News Service...

“Another product attracting a lot of attention at CES is a Microvision portable projector ($500, available March 2010). It allows users to share images from their cellphones, iPods, computers and cameras by projecting them onto the nearest flat surface.

The projector follows the hype generated by AT&T last month when the cellphone giant released the LG eXpo, its first cellphone with built-in video projection capabilities.

While the Microvision device is an external product, it blows the LG eXpo out of the water in terms of resolution and versatility.”

Here’s the link...
http://www.canada.com/life/Taking+Vegas+transformed+into+tech+lover+paradise/2417678/story.html

At the CES 2010, Microvision’s SHOWwx projector won the “Last Gadget Standing” award when competing with 24 other semi-finalists. SHOWwx had over 7,300 on-line views and received 99,148 votes.

Here’s the link...
http://lastgadgetstanding.com/2010/01/09/and-the-winners-are/

Now you tell me?

Over 99,148 on-line votes and everything we have seen and heard over the last year tells us that SHOWwx is an impressive, even jaw-dropping, pico projector with stunning image quality and vivid colors.

You get what you see... and not what PC Magazines says there is or isn’t.

In closing this post...

The stakes here are very high, and we are worried that Microvision management underestimates the things they need to do, as well as, the things their competitors will do to gain advantage in the pico projector marketplace. Obviously, Microvision management did not see this “perfect storm” coming and apparently had no contingency plan.

However, over the last twenty days, the “perfect storm” has lost strength after we had the opportunity to rationalize events that caused such turmoil in the first place.  Given the time for the initial reaction to settle down and with a little bit more patience, today I see, for whatever it is worth, the positive side of the information shared by CEO Alex Tokman in his interview of January 7th.

I suggest that you also listen to CEO Alex Tokman’s interview again [a few times] with an open mind and without your skepticism of the Microvision management.

Anant Goel
http://www.wealthbyoptions.com/