MicroVision could use a catalyst. As a startup company that is now old enough to drive, it has been accumulating a positive potential for over a decade. A year ago, I created a chart to try illustrating the specifics of that potential. It was something I did for myself, just to organize my thoughts and expectations; but it has grown beyond that and has become something I update and share. It is the simple sort of thing that communities can create together. Some people avoid investing in individual stocks because they feel it is too much work. Individual investors don’t have to be individuals, they, we, create communities that produce tools and analyses that the financial institutions and companies decide to not make time for. Just like the companies have catalysts that encourage their growth, we can produce catalysts for each other.
Most people don’t care about stocks. The folks that read my blog break into a few camps, each of which may tune out after they’re read the first line in the first paragraph. The investors don’t necessarily care about small town or island life. Frugal folk frequently prefer to spend their time on practical applications of living simply and on less money. My neighbors are necessarily interested in our neighborhood, whether that neighborhood is the planet, America, The Salish Sea and Puget Sound, Whidbey Island, the postal address that is Clinton, or the collection of houses that is Sandy Hook. I am interested in all of those topics, and I’m not the only person who has lots of overlaps. Quick judgments miss opportunities.
A lot and little has happened since I started tracking MicroVision’s catalysts. The company, MicroVision, has generated substantial revenue, lots of interest, plenty of prototypes and concepts, and has fallen short of expectations. The stock, MVIS, has barely budged relative to my valuation of it. Of my various Backup Plans, my portfolio is looking stronger, but is far from enabling me to live my dream as it has done at least twice. I’m living in the only place that’s felt like home. Unfortunately, even my frugal lifestyle is not sustainable. Fortunately, a small improvement in my fortunes would make it sustainable; and MVIS has to potential to create a large improvement in my fortunes.
If you’ve read this far but don’t know about MicroVision, read the posts tagged with MVIS to learn more. The short version is, MicroVision is enabling projectors that are so small that they can be as ubiquitous as the tiny cameras that have pervaded our electronics – and then do much more. Such small projectors have the capability to disrupt the smartphone market, the way smartphones disrupted the laptop market, the way laptops disrupted the desktop computer, the way desktop computers disrupted mainframes. That’s a nice potential.
A year ago, there were three expected products, all portable projectors that were about the size of smartphones. Celluon and Sony began selling them, and MicroVision benefited. Portable projectors the size of smartphones made for good news stories, but not for runaway sales. There were a few other devices for sale, like Head Up Displays, but they had a smaller effect.
Now, I’ve lost track of the expected products, had to rely on the Investor Village MVIS community for improvements to the chart, and had to leave off many potential products that are fascinating but possibly only experiments. The items on and off the list include:
- personal robots (Sharp’s RoBoHoN, that is either a large smartphone or a small robot; Sony’s Agent, that is a more engaging competitor to Amazon’s Echo; and even a robot that is big enough and smart enough to notice you practicing yoga and then demonstrate the correct pose),
- portable projectors that incorporate more onboard processing power and memory so you don’t to carry along a smartphone just to watch a movie,
- household displays that allow movies or just information to be displayed without having to hang a big chunk of electronics on the wall,
- a refrigerator (?!) that follows you around while carrying your beers and displaying your movie,
- and the big one for me are the various eyewear options that advance past Google Glass, and are either competing with or part of things like Microsoft’s Hololens.
At least four of those products are expected to be announced before the stockholders meeting which usually happens around June. If successful, each of them could positively catalyze the industry, the company, the stock, and my financial situation.
Change happens. Investing has passed from the era when there was some hope of stability, when holding stocks for years was common, when mature companies could be expected to grow at predictable rates with predictable dividends. The world is changing, and the change is accelerating. Being aware of that change, and preparing and investing accordingly, seems to me to be reasonable, rational, and responsible. Unfortunately, I have little, recent, quantifiable proof that my position is correct.
As many know, as a consultant I help entrepreneurs, artists, innovators, and passionate people with their projects. As one impressive consultant (Chris Thorsen) pointed out, I catalyze people’s concepts. I’m amazed and impressed with how many people have marvelous messages and ideas that are temporarily stalled by blind spots, lack of resources, or sometimes simply a need for encouragement. I truly enjoy providing the nudge or the shift in perspective that enables progress – and the world definitely needs progress, sustainable progress.
I look at MicroVision (and MVIS) and see a similar situation, a potentially great innovation that improves people’s experiences while using fewer resources; but that has been stalled by circumstances. Those circumstances may prove to be temporary; or even past, but the news hasn’t reached the public, yet. I don’t know if the product that enables MicroVision’s and MVIS’ success is displayed on my unofficial illustration; but I know that the potential is great enough that most frustrations can fade rapidly with one bit of news, one bit of a catalyst that precipitates out a celebratory success.
I hear you Tom. I may have mentioned to you before, I’ve been expectantly following Microvision’s technology from even before there was a Microvision. The days when Washington State Uni Human Interface Labs had announced their first prototypes in the early nineties. I had a great interest then in the way Retinal Scanning Displays could be utilized in a Virtual Reality context. But Microvision’s ‘failure to launch’ has been a constant source of frustration, particularly after I put some money on it. I just don’t get it. Even after a change in senior management, when Alex Tokman came on board, they just nerve seemed to be able to crack a break. For such an amazingly disruptive technology, at the time, it should have seen it’s inherent advantages acting as the only catalyst required to achieve success. I hate to say it, but, if I didn’t expect better, I’d almost put money on the presence of active interference, almost to the point where many previously unmatched advantages now have alternative tech competition, that at the time was highly speculative, with little to no demonstration of meaningful competition.