I have a few matters of interest, and we haven't seen them addressed today. Can licensing of Tessera's IP portfolio be done more like a real business and less like oil wildcatting? Can business plans be made with enough predictability that some of the cash horde can be distributed to us? Can relations with analysts and owners be made roughly normal without damaging the IP licensing business?
Note that I don't have much to say about DOC--it shouldn't be that big a deal. My best read on present plans is that they're doing what they always ought to have been doing. Yeah, the culture of silicon foundries is so piratical that licensing MEMS autofocus was never a business model, but complete camera modules seem to have been a fever dream of Mr Rhooparvar (apologies for spelling). Actuators are the natural product to sell, and because Tessera has good optics people stashed somewhere, lens assemblies are ok as long as the added cost is modest. And then you sell the business (possibly including the optics shop--does Tessera still sell lithographic optics?)
There really aren't too many people that know how to mass produce a MEMs camera there anymore. The only talent is in Arcadia at the former Siimpel site. They really aren't setup to do much more than R&D and prototypes and can't mass produce. Bob R. was the real driving force to get MEMs cameras to market. They need to get him back if they want to do what they claim as their plan for MEMs. Best senario they outsource everything except the actuators and get them into a platform ASAP. This will be problematic as many subs aren't tooled for this type of camera module and won't invest the $ if there isn't a high return. They need a big customer to put up some $ to be the first to market on this device in the hopes this will be the next big thing and keep it to themselve. BTW ... this was one of the ideas that Bob R. was working on before his temination. He was very close to getting this done before they pulled the plug. They still have the problem of getting the yields up in the range where if makes sense to mass produce. That's the big one right now. The people in Arcadia are very smart and should be able to solve this with the right support and leadership.
I agree.. the actuator is the "real" business that should be marketed. It works better than the VC technology in current modules. Bob R. may be bit off too much, but we will never know as he didn't get the time to show if he was right.
The IP and licensing will be tough as the techology is getting older and older and many of the past customers are still sore from being stuck in litigation in the past. Silicon Valley is a small place and people remember being litigated against over past licensing issues (valid or not). SAC was a joke from the start and people knew it. Why the plug wasn't pulled years ago I don't know. It did exactly what is was designed for... attract dust.
Really, the dog's body is licensing. DOC is a pretty tail, but tail. (SAC is a toenail)
If the numbers we saw last week were presented fairly (admittedly a big if), then Bob R. built his own cliff and ran off it (and yeah, it DID look like that was what was going on in real time)(and I DID say at the time that he probably got canned mostly for talking when it was against policy to say anything). The goal is not to dominate the micro camera market, it's to collect something like $800MM in NPV. MEMS appears to be the only game running (liquid lens appears to be suspended, electrooptic never really started; what else is there?) You can't license the technology to pirates, so the question is how thick a piece of the vertical market to go for. Bob R chose the whole camera, and by last week's numbers it was too expensive (and demanded a lot of manufacturing and selling talent). His immediate predecessor had targeted lens and actuator, and that appears to be present thinking. Less need for both money and special skills. Hits slower, which is a major annoyance, but with nothing else coming up, a reasonable trade-off.
According to the DOC website, they still sell lithographic optics. The market has been moving towards EUV and immersion systems that do not require off-axis illumination optics. I can only guess that this is a driving factor in selling the Charlotte facility.
It's about time. Unfortunately for many good employees, it's too late. I hope that Tessera can find good people to fill the void created by the former CEO. Much of the talent was forced out becuase they had good ideas and values that were not shared by the CEO and his henchmen. Keeping my fingers crossed that they can turn things around and get the stock back where it should be.