Between 1996 and 2014, I was the president and chief operation officer (COO) of Applied Nanotech Holdings, Inc. (ANHI), the public face of Applied Nanotech, Inc. (ANI), its fully-owned subsidiary. In addition, I was also the president and CEO of ANI.
Applied Nanotech, Inc. (ANI) under my leadership, operated as a pure play nanotechnology company that generated new product concepts for strategic partners in a wide range of industries, including defense, health care, sporting goods, printed electronics, sensors, and composites.
Over the years, the company has created a strong R&D organization that is known throughout the nanotechnology community for its innovative and creative excellence. Winner of many R&D awards, the company owns a substantial number of patents, including new materials fundamental patents in the nanotechnology space. Since 2000, it has won over 40 Small Business Investigative Research awards at the Phase I, II, and III levels, including a grant to establish its own manufacturing pilot plant for printed nanoelectronics, including solar inks and pastes.
The R&D work was concentrated in four nanotechnology fields. These four fields are identified in the figure below, which lists some existing and potential product applications for each field.
Numerous events and decisions constitute the history of ANI over its almost 20 years in existence. The company has experienced three shifts in strategy since its inception. Within the company, these strategic shifts are called “inflection points.” These points were not singular in nature, they were usually decided and implemented over months, rather than occurring on a specific day. Such inflections are best thought of as modulations that ripple over time, sometimes blurring the lines between discrete events.
The stages of strategic evolution of ANI are defined by the three inflection points at the time of transition from one stage to the next stage. The stages are:
|1.||1989–1995||pre-nano period and becoming a public company in 1993;|
|2.||1996–2006||establishment as world leader in carbon film electronemission for emissive-type displays (CNT FED TVs);|
|3.||2007–2011||rebirth of the company as a nanotechnology company, building ANI as an R&D hub; and|
|4.||2012–2014||formation of business subsidiaries to accelerate technology commercialization.|
These four stages and their corresponding strategic inflections have continuously changed the nature of ANI; they have altered the business direction of the company and have morphed the business model to include product sales. All four stages shaped ANI as a leading “pure play” company in the nanotechnology sector. Applied Nanotech, Inc., has successfully forged an exceptional R&D enterprise that is now world class in several nanotechnology fields.
In the summer of 2013, ANHI’s board of directors decided they couldn’t satisfy their shareholders’ demands for quick profits if ANI’s focus remained solely on R&D. Instead, the board decided to search for and acquire a company that was compatible with ANI’s existing divisions and could provide larger future revenues. In 2013, the ANHI management unsuccessfully pursued just such a company in the sensors field.
Once the acquisition approach failed, the ANHI’s board of directors came to the conclusion that they needed a new CEO for Applied Nanotech Holdings. They wanted someone who would be adept in raising money, could generate new opportunities, bring strategic partners on board, and communicate with and inspire shareholders with a compelling vision—someone who could generate meaningful shareholder value as well as execute the company’s strategy as designed by its board of directors.
Furthermore, ANHI’s board also decided to separate the positions of CEO and CFO of ANHI (the roles that Mr. Doug Baker had been playing). The board asked Mr. Baker to step down as CEO and remain as the company’s CFO. A search committee was created to find a new CEO while the position remained vacant. This search resulted in a merger between Nanofilm Ltd. and ANI in September 2014. A new public company was formed: PEN, Inc., with Nanofilm and ANI as fully owned subsidiaries of PEN, under the leadership of Dr. Scott Rickert (Nanofilm’s owner), its president and CEO.
A more complete version of ANI’s history, technologies, inventions and creativity is available in “My Life on the Mysterious Island of Nanotechnology” by Zvi Yaniv, available on Amazon.