Usually, when I want to hear about MicroVision’s activities at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (also known as MVIS at CES), I check in on PetersMVISblog. He has great access, an understanding of the history, and enthusiasm for the company, its technology, and its stock. I was disappointed that he couldn’t attend it this year. Official news is nice, but it must be careful, circumspect, and familiar. The customers get to make the big announcements. Personal stories can tell a better, more open, tale. I sat back to wait for insights from other shareholders who visit. They may not blog, but I hoped they’d post on the various stock discussion boards. Independent investors can access such simple and valuable resources.
Partway through the event I got an email from a different friend. They were visiting CES for other reasons, knew I am interested in the newest trends and technologies, and wondered if I could suggest any companies they could visit. Visit? YES! Oh, pardon me. Yes. How about MicroVision? They didn’t have a booth, but they did have a suite. They probably wouldn’t be unveiling anything dramatic – but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was too familiar with their story and what looked like old news to me would look dramatic to them. See what you can find, and if you can’t even get in the door, that’s okay, too. I understand.
Surprise, here’s a report on MicroVision at CES from a person who has heard of the company, has an independent point of view because they aren’t a shareholder, and knows how to write. Name withheld upon request.
On 1/5/17 I went to the MicroVision suites at the CES show in Las Vegas, hoping to gather some useful information as to what the company is up to and upcoming plans.
I met a receptionist who was quite amiable, but she apologized that all of the key MicroVision personnel were in meetings with clients. To me it seemed odd that MicroVision was paying for 3 different suites on two floors of the Westgate Hotel, and yet everyone was meeting clients elsewhere. But that is just me. She advised if I returned on Friday 1/6 at 10 am I might be able to meet briefly with someone.
So, I returned on Friday 1/6 at 10 am and she was quite apologetic. There were indeed people meeting in the adjacent suite, but no one had any free time at that time. I told her “thank you” and walked out into the hallway preparing to depart to the elevator. I was about to leave when I noticed three men in the hallway about 15 feet away from me. I heard introductions and caught the name of Alex Tokman, CEO of MicroVision, as one of the men in the hallway. I decided to try a creative tactic of simply lingering nearby in the hallway until someone noticed, then to see if I got an opportunity to gather information.
Soon, Alex noticed my presence and the other two men were clearly a bit irritated as it was obvious I was not an invited guest nor one of the clients (as they were). I apologized and just told Alex I was there on behalf of a business colleague who had significant stock in MicroVision but who had not been able to attend the show (Tom Trimbath). Alex was amazingly amenable. He suggested that if I went into their suite down the hall that someone might be able to meet with me in a few minutes (there was a meeting in progress across the hall from the suite he sent me to). I told him, “thank you” and went into the suite to wait a bit.
In that suite, I was met by a different receptionist whose job was clearly that of gatekeeper. She knew I was not on the schedule, nor an invited guest, she said everyone was “quite busy” (true statement) and that she needed to keep Alex ‘on track’ in terms of his appointments. By this point, we were out in the hall again. Alex saw that she was about to show me the door and he came to my rescue. He walked over to me and said he could spare me a few minutes for a brief show and tell in the suite. The gatekeeper clearly did not like this turn of events.
On the table in the suite MicroVision had a collection of their products, as well as a RoBoHoN from Sharp. I believe one of the items was the new small form PSE-0403-101 or -102 that MicroVision is promoting will roll out in the second quarter of 2017.
He mentioned the RoBoHoN, then took a few minutes and showed me a cool demo of the PicoBit projector on a nearby wall. The resolution was amazing and the colors were bright. He had a trailer from the new Ghostbusters loaded on the PicoBit. Even on a beige wall from 3 or 4 feet away, the projection was quite good. He explained that these were not ‘optimum’ conditions – a dark screen is much better. I mentioned to him the fact the unit tends to get quite warm after a few minutes of use and asked him if there had been any complaints or problems with that. He said “no” that it wasn’t a problem at all.
I thanked him profusely for his time, gave him my name and business card and told him I was there on behalf of Tom Trimbath. I gathered product flyers on PSE-0400Li-1xx, PSE-0403sti-101 and PSE-0403-102 and left.
It was quite nice of him to take about 10 minutes away from active meetings he had with actual clients to do a show and tell for me.
It is easy to miss the value in such simple encounters; especially with such quiet companies as MicroVision that are at such critical times in their development. Here was an example of management’s willingness to engage at least informally, a suggestion of customer interest, and an independent assessment of the product. The entire event may have only taken a few minutes, but that’s more time than most analysts have spent on the company, and is about the time that most customers will spend while shopping for a product. It is also an example of how independent investors with the right time and money and manners could learn about companies that seem abstract and distant.
This confirms for me that the company is making about the level of progress that I expected (though not as much as I hoped last year). Not so much that they had a booth on the floor with a line waiting to see a new product. Not so little that the suites were quiet and empty. I won’t buy or sell on the insights, but I will give management good marks for being in the right place at the right time. Detailed financial reports, announcements of sales and revenues, as usual, those will come later – and hopefully soon.
Thanks again to an intrepid entrepreneur.