Not surprisingly, investors are excited to learn about CEOs and their thoughts and insights into their own business, competitors, general business matters, and even other industries. Investors will find this interview with one of the thought leaders in the technology space interesting for the insight it gives into his strategic thinking and his assessment of trends and companies in the gaming, bioprinting, and augmented reality industries. Bleeding-edge technology is soon to hit the market and for the sage investor, timing is everything.
Enon Landenberg is a man of many talents: He has the creative talent of "Mad Men's" Don Draper and the work ethic and personality of "Ari Gold" from Entourage. Enon was responsible for creating innovative and "out of the box" digital advertising campaigns for Coca-Cola (KO), Mazda (OTCPK:MZDAF), Ford (F), JDate, Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY) and other Fortune 500 companies when he led Publicis Inc.'s Israeli division. Colleagues and employees at Publicis refer to Enon as the guy who can predict the future and understands how people interact with each other from a technological perspective. One of Enon's mottos is: "It's all about providing goods and services to fulfill the emotional needs of people." I have interviewed many CEOs during my career as a business journalist. I was honored that Mr. Landenberg took out time to talk to me just after he accepted the position as CEO of Infinity Augmented Reality Inc. (Infinity AR) (OTCQB:ALSO), the first augmented reality software platform to connect universally with digital eyewear, smartphones and tablets. He generously took the time to discuss Infinity AR and also provide his expert opinion about the execution and vision of other leaders in hi-tech. He is extremely busy and travels around the globe as a highly sought-after lecturer at technology conventions and a featured TEDx conference keynote speaker.
Q: Infinity AR is a relatively new company in its early growth phase. Are there some hi-tech companies that you follow closely and respect how their CEOs executed the corporate strategies?
Landenberg: Absolutely. Two companies that I admire are gaming company Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) that developed FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Words With Friends and many other popular casual games, and Organovo Holdings Inc. (ONVO), a three-dimensional biology company focused on 3D bioprinting technology.
Q: Can you provide details on these companies' strategies and why they have been successful?
Landenberg: Although some may think of Zynga as unsuccessful due to recent events, including significant layoffs, one must note it still boasts a market cap of over two billion dollars and has cash and marketable securities available of approximately $1.2 billion as per their last financial filing. Zynga knows it must hook social gamers quickly. In today's online world, users have short attention spans and want the best and exciting features of a game right away. If new social apps and games want to be successful, they have to develop great first impressions. Zynga aspires to make all its games pass what the company calls the "three click" test. In other words, the goal is to create games that people can enjoy and get hooked on within the first three clicks of the mouse. According to Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, first-time users will only play a game briefly before deciding whether it's a keeper. Pincus explained the concept two years ago at a media event: "We believe in those first three clicks, you decide whether or not you want to check out more of it. In the uber-casual place that we all exist in now, it's a three click deal. We either sold you or we didn't."
We followed this strategy when we designed a successful, simple interactive campaign for one of our clients, Israeli juice company Prigat, when I was CIO for the Israel division of Publicis Inc. We called the campaign "User Generated Orange Juice" and we used the slogan: "open with a smile." The interactive campaign featured an application that enabled internet users to squeeze real fresh orange juice simply by just smiling at a webcam - a simple and quick concept. It used face recognition technology that digitally activated a real giant juicer whenever a user smiles. The juicer could be viewed live 24/7, allowing users to actually see the outcome of their smiles.
Let's not overlook Mr. Pincus' bulldog determination. Before launching Zynga, Pincus started three companies and each one failed. From those experiences, he concluded, "Don't go start a company just because you have a customer and someone will fund you. If it is a marginal idea, that's bad." It's clear that Mark has the business intuition as Wayne Gretzky liked to say: "I know where the puck is going to be." Mark knows how to position Zynga for where the money will be. That is a quality that investors should appreciate.
Q: Organovo Holdings has gained major traction on the public markets, do you believe management will be able to execute their vision and eventually receive FDA approval and became profitable?
Landenberg: Keith Murphy, is the Chief Executive Officer of Organovo. He has 20 years of experience in biotechnology, including serving in product strategy and director of process development roles at Amgen (AMGN), where he worked for 10 years. While there, he was global operations leader for the largest development program in Amgen's history, Phase III osteoporosis/bone cancer drug Denosumab. He is the sort of CEO that is needed to drive a new product to developmental reality.
What is interesting about a recent 3D printing report is that it projects that the consumer market will remain a relatively small or niche one, even though most of the media hype is on that area today. The Lux Research study about the 3D printing market stated that it could an $8.4 billion-in-revenues market in 2025, up from $777 million in 2012, with the majority of the applications in the automotive, medical and aerospace industries.
Organovo will be working with the Oregon Health and Science University to employ its technology to create diseased or dysfunctional cellular formations for scientists to use in cancer research. The potential of 3-D formations is limitless: This will eliminate the need of animal testing in cancer and other disease studies as well. The investor community is already aware of this potential but I believe that the company's efforts in working with the right vendors, universities and others will earn them a lucrative deal with Major Pharma, although skeptics think that with only $14 million in the bank that Organovo may not be able to develop and commercialize a product that costs hundreds of millions.
Q: What is your company's plan and how are you positioning the company to take advantage of Google's (GOOG) Project Glass?
Landenberg: The augmented reality world divides into two parts. The first part is the hardware and the second part is the software, which may be custom designed for each device. Through Glass, Google has successfully brought the possibilities of AR into the public consciousness. Infinity AR's mission is develop leading social, educational and entertainment applications in this new medium. We like to use the phrase "amazing relevance" because the augmented reality technology will connect you with all your devices and give you the instant information you need such as a good restaurant close to your hotel when you are on vacation. Our full AR suite will connect universally with digital eyewear, smart phones and tablets and employs a full spectrum of cutting-edge technologies such as location, image, voice and facial recognition software. It's the collision of real world and the web that represents the next technological advance and it will transform peoples' lives. Many of the first applications will be in entertainment such as online gambling and professional sports. For example, gamblers will be able to get the full experience of being at a card table, or a slot machine, or standing at the end of a craps table ready to throw the dice in any casino around the globe, without being there at all.
An example of other applications that we will have is a technology that knows if you are hungry now. If you are hungry, the system will tell you if you have time to go and eat lunch or run to your next meeting because it's connected to your calendar. What we are doing is integrating artificial intelligence with augmented reality.
Q: Moshe Hogeg is a director at Infinity AR. How will the Mobli platform help Infinity Augmented Reality?
Landenberg: I greatly admire Mr. Hogeg's future-forward thinking and was drawn to Mobli's concept of being able to see the world through other people's eyes as described in a Forbes article as "The next Google." The company's photo- and video- sharing app has attracted millions of followers and financial backing from celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Serena Williams and Tobey Maguire. We will explore the option of working with Mobli and other companies, whereby such a partnership will provide a huge boost to Infinity AR because of its millions of followers that would be introduced to our services.
Organovo, Zynga and Infinity AR are all companies that capture our imagination while being realistic that the impossible is becoming a reality. Organovo and Infinity AR technology will result in innovations and applications that only yesterday were thought to be impossible. Exciting videos to watch show some of the future projects of these companies:
The companies' revenue models are clearly defined and likely will expand as the technology draws more attention. Zynga will receive a boost by Google's project glass and perhaps partner with casino companies to share the revenue stream.
As Bing Gordon from Kleiner Perkins recently stated, "The crucial question is which companies will benefit most from the laws allowing online gambling?" Analysts and industry experts predict that both the brick-and-mortar casino, such as Caesars Entertainment (CZR), Boyd Gaming (BYD) and MGM , and also high-tech companies such as Glu Mobile (GLUU) with its online games expertise may be poised to benefit from the new laws.
As far as Glu Mobile many analysts do not think the firm will be an immediate beneficiary to take advantage of U.S. legalized gambling because Glu has only has one game in the highly competitive UK market now, and they do not expect the U.S. market to be a near-term (in the next 12-18 months) opportunity for the firm.
Several social gaming operators have been introducing betting games in the U.K. to gain more knowledge in managing regulated online gambling. In fact, Apple modified the iPhone software for U.K. users to accommodate them. Facebook began allowing online gambling for British users last summer with
In general, Wall Street analysts are giving the edge to online gambling companies in terms of who will benefit most from the legalization of online gambling in U.S. states. For example, analysts who are bullish on Boyd and Caesars say that passage of legalized online gambling at the state and federal level has the potential to lead to a significant increase in revenues for these companies - in Caesars' case, it's the number 2 operator in market share terms in the social gambling industry after purchasing Playtika, the developer of Slotomania, the popular Facebook (FB) game, for about $180 million in 2011. With Caesars recent acquisitions, size, and great execution it's likely they will benefit and profit from the new legislation.
Another strong player is Boyd . Many analyst believe that "expansion of U.S. online gaming" is a major driver for the company. Many analyst agree that Boyd is well positioned to benefit from the new laws because of its properties in Las Vegas, New Jersey and seven other states.
Morgan Stanley estimates for online gambling growth (now factored into their BYD estimates), they project that the legal U.S. online gaming market will be worth $670 million in 2014, increasing to $9.3 billion in 2020 (at a 55% compounded annual growth rate). Put into context, by 2020, they estimate that online gaming in the U.S. to be the same size as the current Las Vegas Strip ($6.2 billion of gaming revenue in 2012) and Atlantic City ($3 billion in 2012) markets. To bolster their estimate, they mentioned that the U.S. online gaming market was estimated to be $5.3 billion ($7.5 billion adjusted for inflation) before it was banned in late 2006. MGM should also benefit because of its joint venture in Atlantic City's Borgata casino/hotel.
Currents stock prices:
ONVO $4.05, ZNGA $2.87, ALSO $0.43, BYD $0.75, CZR $13.75, $2.39