It never happens the way you expect. MVIS shareholders have been waiting months for news from Sony. A Sony product with MicroVision Inside should be launched this year. We expected news by the end of 2014, and didn’t get any. January 2nd, the first trading day of 2015, and here we have it, an attractive, well-designed, pico-projector that unambiguously acknowledges using MicroVision technology, for a product launch by the end of January. It even has a price range because there are a range of options. But, it wasn’t Sony. A much smaller Korean company called Celluon announced their PicoPro – and, then they didn’t. The news vanished. The information, however, hasn’t.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with MVIS and who are surprisingly reading past the first paragraph, here’s a synopsis of a synopsis from My Semi Annual Exercise.
“MicroVision is a promising small company with a technology that could dramatically change our electronic world. The company is based on a one key technology: an oscillating mirror built into a chip (MEMS, MicroElectroMechanicalSystems), that can acquire and display images very cheaply, at high resolution, at high frequency, for low power, in a very small space.”
There’s a longer, but older, post Micro Vision, that explains more. The post’s age also tells a tale of patience.
Celluon’s press release vanished from the web. At least that was someone’s intent. Those aware of the workings of the Internet know that anything that is posted once was probably copied many times. Rummage around through the cache and the original can be found – and oops, that was deleted too. And again. The copies existed for a while, but now they too have vanished.
The video hasn’t.
Unfortunately, the video is of the device, doesn’t have time to mention details like suppliers, and is old.
The video age reveals something that is out of synch with the press release. According to the video, the AirPico was to be launched back in September, but it doesn’t seem to be for sale yet. CES, the big Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, starts Monday. The press release alluded to a launch then (as I recall).
There is where a possible conflict arises. Sony, which has already mentioned MicroVision as a possible supplier for a number of products, makes their big presentation at CES Monday at 5pm. Sony may not be happy being upstaged by an upstart. Maybe Sony convinced someone to retract the release. If so, then Sony cares about getting the right press with MicroVision, which is good for MicroVision and MVIS.
But, why would one competitor (Celluon) bow to another competitor (Sony)? Upstarts like to upset stalwarts. This would be a perfect David versus Goliath opportunity. Maybe something else is happening.
Rather than create a long list of speculations that will be moot either by the end of Monday, CES, or January, I’ll introduce one other possibility as caution. It is possible that the press release was faked, or at least generated by someone with great enthusiasm for the concept or the company without thinking through the implications. Investing in small companies also means investing in companies that have too few people to manage the corporate message across all media. Considering the hack against Sony, it is easy to imagine someone creating a wishful release, posting it, watching the reaction, possibly profiting from it, and then watching some authority like Celluon or Sony erase the effort. It is a scenario that fits the style of the various companies involved.
The press release was possibly legitimate. It may have been posted as intended and run into unintended reactions. It may have been released prematurely. It may have contained errors or revealed more than contracts allowed.
Regardless of the real reason, the reaction wasn’t mysterious. MVIS rose over 12% on reasonable volume. If nothing else, the news tested the market. An authentic looking press release from a relatively unknown company was sufficient to raise the price significantly. If a company of Sony’s size releases a similar or more significant product, the stock’s reaction will probably be much larger.
The mystery that continues to shroud MicroVision is similar to the mysteries that shroud many small companies. Information fog is one reason why investing in small stocks is considered speculating. Even when you think you know something, something tangible and quantitative, it can be deleted from at least the electronic memories.
As with any good mystery though, the hints along the path intrigue us and draw us to an eventual, yet unknown, conclusion.
Monday, January 6th, 5pm, Sony makes an announcement, and we’ll see if MicroVision’s story changes. I intent to tune in.