Posts Tagged ‘Alien Technology’

Stock market collapse could jeopardize Impinj IPO

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

The recent and dramatic downturn in the stock market could spell bad news for Impinj’s bid to go public. According to an AP report, eight IPOs have been cancelled this week alone, with one more reducing its price as a turbulent stock market has caused many investors to flee stocks.

Only one company has gone public this month after eight IPOs were launched in the last week of July. The Impinj deal has yet to be priced. However, the company hopes to raise about $100 million from the IPO.

Financial experts say that it often takes between six months and a year to complete an IPO. The general consensus is that the Impinj offering will be priced between mid-August and the end of September. Impinj and online real estate firm Zillow both filed their S1 statements on the same day; Zillow went public two weeks ago. 

A cancelled IPO would certainly disappoint investors who have sunk more than $150 million into the leading producer of tag and reader ICs for the burgeoning EPC market. However, it wouldn’t have an entirely negative impact on the industry. For starters, the current market conditions are out of Impinj’s control and do not reflect the overall strength of the RFID sector and Impinj’s market leading position.

Just the same, a successful IPO “would definitely show that the core component of the industry – the tag and the reader — is a growing market and that there is a growing demand for it,” says one industry insider.

To draw a parallel between a cancelled Impinj IPO and the failed Alien IPO from four years ago would be unfair. Alien was a victim of untimely market conditions, but that was only half the story. Investors also had serious concerns about Alien’s business plan and the overall acceptance of RFID back in 2008. Today’s market, however, features strong orders and growing momentum. Impinj grew sales from $20.8 million in 2009 to $31.8 million last year. First quarter revenue for 2011 came in at $12.2 million, compared with $5.1 million for the same period last year.

Impinj has sold over two billion of its Monza tag ICs since the product line was introduced in 2005, including 940 million tags in 2010 alone. VDC Research projects the number of UHF Gen2 ICs shipped will grow from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 41 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 92.2 percent. Investors drool over such growth numbers, and such explosive growth should also push Impinj to a profit.

Click here to view RFID 24-7’s previous coverage of the pending Impinj IPO.

Optimism high at RFID Live; new solutions and innovation drive the industry forward

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The annual RFID Live show is set to conclude in Orlando today, with an onslaught of new product announcements, the unveiling of new applications and solutions, and unforeseen optimism for the industry moving forward.

Activity in retail, aerospace and medical/healthcare is expected to skyrocket as new applications unfold in those sectors. Execs from Macy’s, Walmart, JC Penney and Dillard’s participated in a panel discussion to provide an update on the Item Level RFID Initiative, a joint effort to accelerate item level retail tagging. Some industry execs marveled that the four panelists joined together on the same stage to discuss RFID best practices when collaboration among competing retailers was unheard of just two or three years ago.

“We are rapidly moving to a world where everything in the Internet is connected, and the key element to that is RFID,” Gene Delaney, executive VP at Motorola, said in a keynote address. “Companies that convert data and filter information and get it into the hands of the right person at the right time will be able to make real-time decisions that can change the competitive landscape.”

Avery Dennison’s Jack Farrell kicked off the event’s opening day by elaborating on the company’s shipment of its one billionth tag last week, and pointing out that RFID is in the early stages of a very strong growth cycle. “We are seeing exceptional growth,” he says. “It’s across the board and it speaks well of the continued momentum behind RFID when you have large companies rolling out the technology because very simply — they know it will make them money.”

Farrell, vice president and general manager at Avery Dennison, said Avery is seeing the biggest growth in the retail apparel item level tagging, but “in three or four years it’ll be something else, whether a pharmaceutical application or authentication of consumer products.”

The show revealed a host of innovation occurring in the industry, from recent new chip announcements from Impinj and Alien Technology, to the tiny on-metal tags being developed by Xerafy for use on medical tools and other high value assets. While Alien says retail represents its biggest business sector, the company has signed five deals for bag tags at airports in Europe in the last 12 months, and has also seen increased activity in vehicle tracking in Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and parts of China.

German retailer Gerry Weber announced that it recently concluded spending an investment of about $2.7 million Euros to roll out RFID, and expects payback in two years. The investment does not include tags costs, which totaled approximately $2.8 million (U.S.) to tag about 28 million items.

One of the biggest examples of a game-changing application was ODIN’s announcement that it is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to commercialize a solution designed to automate tracking and data entry in pathology labs.

The solution could revolutionize the way that specimens are tracked as they move from one step to another at medical facilities. ODIN estimates that the average industry error rate of 10 percent could drop dramatically once the solution is introduced.

“The people at the Mayo Clinic are stunned that this is still a paper-based system,” says ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney. “Each time a product comes into the lab, it gets re-labeled. One specimen might get re-labeled five or six times, and so it could be mislabeled during the process.”

“Pathology labs almost universally receive paper requisition forms with accompanying specimens for accessioning into the laboratory information systems,” says Schuyler Sanderson, a Mayo Clinic pathologist who has been championing RFID for AP specimen management at Mayo. “These paper requisition forms are typically filled in by hand from nursing staff and clinical providers. This practice represents a major source of specimen labeling errors, all of which have the potential for … adverse outcomes for patients.”

Mayo has been researching the RFID solution for four years, and hired ODIN last year to commercialize the solution. Mayo has already begun to roll out the solution at 42 labs in North America. Sweeney says that the average size lab could expect to pay about $500,000 for a solution, but could save $1-2 million per year, half from soft savings like labor costs and the other on material savings. ROI is expected in 12 months or less.

Sweeney expects the automated solution to become the norm for the medical industry. “You’ve got chain of custody, pedigree and accuracy through the whole system,” he says. “Mayo is committed to commercializing its IP around RFID and automating what they see as rudimentary processes. The ROI is significant but more importantly it just takes eliminating one error (and saving a life) to make this worthwhile. Now that the technology is out there that can prevent errors, medical facilities are at a liability risk not to use it. So we see it as a huge market opportunity.”

The solution clearly represents an example of how RFID can help to improve patient treatment and potentially save lives.

There are fun things we do at ODIN, like the social media applications with Vail Resorts,” says Sweeney. “Then there are things that are changing the world and this is an application that is changing the world.”

Sweeney also provided an update on his firm’s revenues, noting that sales increased 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period last year. He expects healthcare to represent 50 percent of ODIN’s revenues in 2011.

Look for more coverage of this week’s show in next week’s issue of RFID 24-7.

Item-level provider TAGSYS raises $12M in venture funding

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The investment community continues to channel cash into the RFID sector. The latest beneficiary, item-level RFID infrastructure provider TAGSYS, has pulled in $12 million from five investors. The announcement follows those from Alien Technology, which raised $10.9 million, and RTLS provider Awarepoint, which raised $10 million.

TAGSYS marketing director Maria Kaganov says the new funding will help the firm to expand its distribution channels, assist partners in securing new markets, and allow TAGSYS to continue to develop UHF and HF solutions optimized for item-level applications for a variety of markets including library, textile services, brand and fashion and healthcare. Specifically, Kaganov sees the funding helping to expand the firm’s retail solutions into the U.S. market, and its textile solutions into the Middle East and Asia.

TAGSYS’ business model provides complete purpose-built infrastructure to customers, and has led to wins in several major applications during the last 12 months, including item-level supply chain projects in the fashion sector with Rica Lewis and Serge Blanco. The companies use TAGSYS solutions to track millions of clothing items, and to manage in-store inventory at leading European retailers including Carrefour, Auchan and Intermarché.

“After years of over-hyped expectations, the RFID market has reached a stage of maturity where customers are focused on the proven tangible benefits of RFID and using practical, real-world solutions to gain competitive operational advantage,” Bernard Vogel, of venture firm Endeavour Vision, said in a press release. “Industry leading RFID solutions-based companies such as TAGSYS are at the forefront in delivering this competitive advantage to leading companies around the globe.”

Alien unveils new reader at Global User & Partner Conference

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Alien Technology used its 2010 Global User & Partner Conference to unveil its ultra-high performance Gen 2 enterprise category reader platform yesterday. The ALR-9900+ is a global enterprise category reader platform with significant performance and feature improvements over its predecessor, the ALR-9900.

Alien’s Conference, held adjacent to its RFID Solutions Center in Dayton, Ohio, drew approximately 150 users from 20 countries.

The ALR-9900+ supersedes all previous regional-specific enterprise category readers with an operational frequency band ranging from 866MHz (Europe, Middle East & Africa) to 954MHz (Japan). The ALR-9900+ is the parent model to the recently announced ALR-9900-EMA, which was specifically designed for compliance with the new ETSI EN 302-208-2 regulatory compliance standards, more commonly known as ‘the four-channel-plan’.

New technological advancements led to a global reader architecture, enabling a single hardware platform to be factory configurable to accommodate world-wide regional compliance profiles. Additionally, numerous new developments resulted in significant performance improvements as well as incorporation of several innovative features, further complementing the industry leading Alien Higgs™-3 RFID tag IC, bolstering security and authentication applications and supporting all extended and customized Higgs-3 IC features.

Beyond the advantages of a global hardware platform, the key differentiating attributes of the ALR-9900+ over its ALR-9900 predecessor include a vastly improved receiver circuit design with multiple stages of configurable digital filters and high gain, low distortion amplifiers, resulting in a dramatically more sensitive receiver. This best-in-class design provides more read range margin, most advantageous for applications using ultra-high sensitivity tags in challenging environments at extreme distance or where tag backscatter signals are constrained due to sub-optimum conditions, including use with smaller item level tags which often have limited performance.

Alien raises $10.9M in venture capital; investment total just shy of $340M

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

There might be a menu upgrade in store for next week’s Alien Technology User Conference after Morgan Hills, Calif.-based Alien hauled in another $10.9 million in venture funding on Wednesday. The cash infusion is the company’s first since it raised $38 million in October 2008 during one of the mist difficult financial periods in U.S. history.

The additional funding can only be seen as a positive for Alien and the RFID sector, which has continued to draw venture capital better than most industries during the recession and its slow recovery. Alien says that it established an all-time record volume quarter for RFID IC and inlay sales for the quarter ending December 2009. Alien’s inlay and IC volumes have been growing at a rate of approximately 50 percent quarter over quarter for the past two quarters.

 With the new cash, Alien has now raised just shy of $340 million since it was founded in 2004. The firm has landed some mega investments, including the $66 million it raised in 2005. The recent round was led by existing investors Advanced Equities, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Sunbridge Partners. One has to wonder if investors are getting antsy about their opportunity to cash in on their investment. Their chance to do so in 2007 fell apart when a proposed initial public offering at $6 was tabled after it didn’t draw enough interest. The company went back to investors for $33 million in capital in October 2008.

Investors typically look for an exit strategy once a company begins to hit maturity. Those exits can take the form of an IPO, which is unlikely for Alien, at least for this year. More often, investors recoup their investment by initiating a merger or buyout. Five members of Alien’s board of director’s represent venture investment firms holding a stake in the company.

Next week, more than 100 partners and end users from around the world will gather at the 2010 Global Alien User and Partner Conference in Dayton, Ohio, next to its RFID Solutions Center.