No News is Good News. Really? That phrase seems like it is only true about half the time. The other half is No News is Bad News. The third half is No News is No News. (Go ahead, check that math.) Public perception of a company, an organization, or a public figure is driven by skillful use of communication, ideally. But, saying nothing doesn’t mean nothing was said. People will fill in the blanks even if it means reading between the lines when there aren’t any lines. And sometimes, nothing is nothing.
We watch for news. Granted, fewer of us are watching ABC, CBS, and NBC for it, but we continue to seek news from Facebook & Twitter, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.
The last few days were a technologist’s news fest. The Consumer Electronics Show was held in Las Vegas. Over 150,000 people showed up for a trade show of everything electronic from enormous televisions to computers on a chip, from critical care medical devices to meat marinaters. It is an obvious event for any electronic startup to show off and gain exposure. Every year I and other MVIS sharedholders wonder, “Will this be the year for news from MicroVision?”. This year we had hope.
MicroVision released a press release on December 13th proclaiming that they were going to “show new and exciting product concept devices” at CES. While that sounds like news, it was met with ambivalence by most of the shareholders. There was an expectation of a product announcement by the end of 2013. That wasn’t it. The PR announcement mentioned CES, which was good; but concepts aren’t products. Yet, the hopeful hoped.
Then, silence. Maybe they were operating under secrecy constraints. Maybe they would be included in some larger corporation’s announcement. Maybe we’d hear from the company and the attendees about MicroVision’s exhibits and exciting product concepts. Even without a press release, there’d be Facebook, or Twitter, or maybe even YouTube videos. It’s happened before.
The show opened and the company’s mouth stayed shut. No buzz. Not even any innocuous, everyday tweeting. Was that bad or good?
That’s what has confronted MVIS shareholders, but a lack of news does not result in a lack of discussion. Speculation begins, well, speculation continues because it never really stops with such a story stock. Pessimists take it as proof that the company has nothing worth showing, and they can point to the more public competitors who manage perception by stepping into the spotlight. Optimists take it as proof that things are so good that the news has to be kept secret, and that spotlights will swing over to MicroVision without being, after the news is released.
Two days into the show, a thread on a discussion board held a clue of a rumor that everyone that attended the MicroVision exhibit had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The rumor producer didn’t disclose why.
As I read it, no news is no news. Yes, the pessimists could be right. They have been so far. Yes, the optimists could be right. Long-delayed overnight successes do happen. In the meantime, I know no more than I knew before; except that, whatever is going to happen is happening at least one day later than I wanted it to. That’s been happening for years.
Managing a message is important. That’s why we are taught manners. It’s why I’d love to be able to spend more than an hour or two writing these posts. (IIHMTIWHMIS – If I Had More Time I Would Have Made It Shorter) Properly managing a message takes effort. Extemporaneous politicians are a rich harvest for comics. They say too much without thinking. Use your mouth to take a breath before using it to speak. Enthusiastic physicists witnessing a phenomenal energetic reaction that could provide clean power make a blunder by giving it the wrong name. Cold fusion becomes a joke instead of a hope. A bit more humility in the name, like, quickly now, how about, Room Temperature Energetic Reaction, may have concentrated the debate on energy instead of challenging the Hot Fusion crowd. Saying too little is the wrong way to go too. That’s the fatal flaw in so many industrial disasters. If it’s bad; say so soon. Respect your audience.
MicroVision may be executing exactly the perfect message. We can’t know right now. Whether they have anything to say or not, they missed an opportunity to simply communicate the fact that they wouldn’t communicate. How about, “Yes, we’ll show new and exciting product concept devices, but we won’t be talking about them because of: pick one or more of, competition, NDAs, carefully managing expectations, other.”
Investing should have a basis in logic, and logic works best with facts and data. A company that does not provide facts and data provides less reason for logical decision making. Within the investing world, there will be other companies that provide that supply. Maybe that’s why demand for MVIS is low.
This is one reason why I consider MVIS a speculation. I considered it an investment, then a startup-that’s-about-to-become-an-investment; but now I consider it a speculation.
Well, I speculate about a lot of things because there are a lot of things we don’t know. Will the Digital Singularity happen? Are there aliens amongst us? Is the biggest threat to my house the mortgage company, an earthquake, or my maintenance skills?
I may even speculate a bit more about MVIS by buying some more MVIS. There was no news, but that wasn’t good or bad, it just wasn’t. I sold some RSOL because they had some good news, which means I may rebalance my portfolio. When there’s no news, whether it is about investing or politics or people, I’ve learned to remind myself, that no news is no news and that, except for time, nothing has changed to change my mind.
(A last minute phrase from karate comes to mind,
“Do not block the punch that wasn’t thrown.“)