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Icron Technologies’ is in a growing
marketplace with people looking for more and more ways to transparently
connect their USB devices beyond the desktoptm
Icron Technologies Corporation
4664 Lougheed Highway, Suite 221
Burnaby, BC V5C 5T5
President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – June 22, 2007
Robert Eisses, President and Chief Executive Officer
has more than twenty years of experience as an entrepreneur and key member
of senior management teams of companies focused on emerging wireless data
applications. At Icron he transitioned to CEO in September 2006 from the
role of Vice President Sales and Marketing, which he held since June of 2004
and during which time revenues grew over 45% annually.
includes a B.Comm in Finance from University of Manitoba and has held
various Senior Sales and/or Business Development roles at Xerox Canada,
Infosat Telecommunications (a BCE company), Pocket IT, Motivus and Norsat
resides in Vancouver BC with his wife and 2 children.
Icron Technologies Corporation's patented ExtremeUSB(R) technology
extends the range of USB in wired environments and enables wireless USB over
any RF technology. ExtremeUSB is the only USB-IF compliant extension
solution and is deployed globally in a wide range of applications including:
industrial automation, medical device, aerospace, KVM and computer
networking. ExtremeUSB technology is available in a variety of formats
including technology licenses, OEM modules, developer kits, as well as
branded and private-label products.
Icron is a publicly traded corporation and
trades under the symbol "IT" on the TSX Venture Exchange.
CEOCFO: Mr. Eisses, you became CEO this
past September, what is your vision and how has that developed?
Mr. Eisses: “The vision for the company
is to continue and refocus our core competency, which is our ExtremeUSB®
technology. What ExtremeUSB® allows you to do is take USB connections beyond
the desktop, over long distances, fiber optics and enables a true wireless
USB solution. We are implementing our technology into a variety of formats
and products and delivering those to the market effectively through our own
market, distribution channels, value-added resellers and OEM agreements.”
do we need this USB technology?
Mr. Eisses: “Basically as USB has
developed, it moved from a standard connection where you connect your mouse
and your keyboard to your desktop computer or your notebook, to a technology
that is really used as the defacto standard for connecting any device to
your PC, whether that is a webcam, printer, scanner, hard-drive or whatever
the case may be. In the past it was limited to a five meter distance from a
PC and what our technology does is allow you to extend that distance well
beyond 5 m/16 ft to over 2 km/1.24 mi, over fiber optics or at any distance
wirelessly. We allow you to expand the use of the USB devices by removing
them off your desktop and using them in more unique situations such as
industrial, medical, commercial and consumer type applications.”
What are you actually creating and who is using them?
Mr. Eisses: “Currently, our primary
focus in our traditional marketplace has been in wired USB extensions, so
USB extension over CAT5 cable or fiber optic. We have primarily focused on
the commercial marketplace and industrial marketplace where our products are
used in anything from remote desktop applications where you might have a
central computing processing facility and you have remote desktops spread
out for telemarketing operations, trading floors for a bank or brokerage
institution. We use it in applications such as medical and medical imaging
systems where you have a treatment room that you have a USB device and that
is connected to a processor in a back room somewhere, so again you need some
distance to facilitate that. We use it in industrial manufacturing
facilities for remote terminals and devices on a manufacturing floor. It
would include a lot of applications where distance is well beyond the five
meter limit of traditional USB.”
you just provide the device?
Mr. Eisses: “Our solution replaces the
existing cable that is connected between your device, and your PC. That
normal cable that you have is now replaced by our solution, which allows you
to extend it over those distances or over wireless radio. You do not have to
change anything on your PC or on your device. It is totally transparent,
plug-and-play. It replaces that cable and allows you to use the USB device
well beyond the desktop.”
do you sell your product?
Mr. Eisses: “We sell our product in a
number of ways. First of all, we build everything from fully-packaged
products, labeled as Icron solutions. We sell those through value-added
resellers on a global basis. Secondly, we take our product and market it
through specialized retailers that want to brand it themselves, so we do a
white label program, whereby someone has taken our technology, put their
brand label on it and then sold it through their channel. We also sell
modules or design licenses that allow people to embed it even further into
their technologies and solutions. Each of the versions that we sell is sold
into different markets. The nice thing about USB is it is pretty ubiquitous
out there so every industry effectively uses USB. Anyone that uses a
computer and a device basically uses USB, so you can see our market is
broad. We have traditionally had good success in the markets for enterprise
computing space, the medical imaging space, the security market space with
biometrics or other USB devices. We are now starting to enter into more of
the consumer space as we are extending the connection between the PC and a
TV seamlessly and transparently so you can have a full PC experience as you
sit in front of your TV. This is a new market area that we are expanding
into, and holds great promise.”
your product unique?
Mr. Eisses: “Our product is unique in
that we are the only company that provides a transparent USB experience over
all the different media. We have patents on our technology that are in the
US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and so on. Our Patents cover the concept of
extending or enhancing USB over long distances or wirelessly and doing it
transparently while supporting all the USB modes and transfer types that
exist in USB. The key thing about our technology is the plug-n-play aspect
of it, which supports our goal of ease-of-use of the product in whatever
format we deliver our technology to the customers. Secondly, the performance
that it provides in terms of meeting all of the USB specifications is very
important from a customer and partner perspective. It is simply, very easy
for customers to manageable and implement.”
CEOCFO: Do you sell them one sale of a
device or is it something on going in the process?
Mr. Eisses: “The implementation for a
particular application usually requires one product per device connected.
However it is like buying a cable, you buy one cable and there is no
on-going licensing for it, so it is a hardware sale per se.”
the industry looking for your USB solution?
Mr. Eisses: “USB connectivity is being
used more in more applications all the time, so people are looking for more
ways to connect their USB devices beyond that 5-meter traditional USB limit.
Our market is growing in all sectors because people and companies are
looking for new solutions especially for a wired USB extension. In the
wireless market, there is actually a significant demand for going wireless
beyond the “oh it’s kind of neat or niche application,” there is actually a
marketplace that has been identified as a sub-sector of the USB market that
is expected to be 10% of that market by 2010. The USB market in general is
expected to be at 2.8 billion devices being shipped by 2010, and if you
count 10% of that is 280 million devices that are wireless USB enabled, it
is a significant number. This is the first year that any wireless USB device
has been shipped. We are really at the infancy of the whole wireless USB
market and that represents a very large opportunity for Icron to work in
because of how we are implementing our wireless USB solution and how
transparent and seamless and point-of-play it is. The feedback we are
getting is very strong toward market support for the product.”
Mr. Eisses: “Business is great!
Traditionally our business over the last twelve quarters has been
quarter-over-quarter growth every quarter. Year-over-year growth the last
three years has been about 35-45% and that trend is continuing on our core
business. We just launched our wireless product this quarter and we are
starting to see revenues happen this quarter which should give us another
bump in terms of growth for this year and ongoing.”
What is the financial picture for you?
Mr. Eisses: “We just released our
last-year annual numbers a few weeks ago. Last year we did $6.3 million in
revenue. We were effectively profitable last year outside of a one-time
restructuring charge, which was the change-of-CEO positions, which included
a payout to the last CEO, or otherwise we would have been profitable. For
the past two quarters, we have been profitable, and for this year, we are
trending to maintain that profitability and grow the business as we move
forward. We are also sitting on about $4.5 million in cash that we did from
a raise in 2005, which we are using for internal development of our own ASIC.
This is focused on a cost reduction of our technology that can get us into
bigger markets as well. We won’t need to dip too deeply into that pool so we
are very well funded for the next phase of growth.”
Global vision, global opportunity, what is ahead?
Mr. Eisses: “Our current market is we
sell about 75% of our product in the United States and another 25% in Europe
and another 10% to the rest of the world. What we are seeing is that the
rest of the world is going to pick up as we have just started to enter the
Chinese and other Asian markets in a bigger way. We see that as a huge
growth opportunity for the company. We just participated in a show in Hong
Kong and we just set up some new distributor partners in Asia. We are moving
some manufacturing to Asia to take advantage of some of the cost reductions
that we can have there. We are looking for global expansion to facilitate
our overall growth and picking up some of the new emerging markets as great
should investors be interested and what might they miss about the company
that they should realize?
Mr. Eisses: “Investors should be
interested because we represent a solid technology that has been developed
over the years that is ruggedized, hardened and used with very many mission
critical type applications in industry. However, the previous limitation of
it has really been the cost of its implementation. This year with our new
ASIC development, we are cost reducing dramatically, so that we can focus on
some of these bigger markets effectively. We are transitioning from a tried
and true proven industrial commercial technology, into a mass consumer
technology platform. We are taking an existing solution and broadening the
market for it. We see some good blue sky opportunity for growth in the
coming years. As well, we have a solid core business that keeps generating
good cash flow for us.”
closing, what should people remember most about Icron?
“What Icron does is take USB connections and takes them beyond the desktop
cost effectively in many markets. This provides Icron with huge
opportunities as the overall USB market continues to grow and be the defacto
standard for device to PC connectivity.”
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