6 reasons why SEE gets bought in 2024

I’m convinced that next year is set to be the year that Seeing Machines finally gets bought.

Here’s why: 

  • In the next few months Seeing Machines will prove to even the most sceptical observer that its DMS/OMS land grab has been successful, with it taking over 75% of the global market by value. The partnerships it has formed with the likes of Qualcomm, Magna, Valeo, etc. are unrivalled and its tech and implementation are clearly a cut above any other provider.
  • The launch of the third generation of its Guardian product for trucks and buses will see that business slash box costs and times for installation, enabling it to go ten times on that business in short order. Mobileye marketing it for Aftermarket should be a game changer.
  • Aviation will have been proved as a lucrative business that has legs, thanks to its partnership with Collins and the first of many huge, long-term contracts.
  • It is also clear that its technology has applications in other transport verticals, marine, and rail for instance, not to mention other industries such as robotics, entertainment, and security.
  • Profitability will become a certainty with the above contracts, leading to more funds investing and the price rising substantially, making it more attractive and fuelling the greed of a potential buyer.
  • There are just too many huge companies who now have a direct interest in acquiring this market leader, not to mention a huge amount of Private Equity capital available to fund a takeover. Moreover, if it were to go for $5bn, they could be fairly confident of it rising in value to $15bn-£20bn within a three-year horizon.

While the bulk of investors (including fund managers) are only now beginning to understand the strengths and potential of Seeing Machines, that can’t be said of the industry players, the chip companies and Tier 1s, who regularly work with Seeing Machines or come across its technology. Moreover, the likes of Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple know Seeing Machines and must like what they see.

Great business

A much smarter man than me, an investor, business manager, and experienced entrepreneur who has sold businesses, once told me: “Great businesses get bought NOT sold”. 

While some may hanker after a Nasdaq listing, I think market conditions over the next year and beyond will mitigate against this and leave an opportunity for a competitive bidding situation to arise.

I don’t know when exactly this will happen nor who will win but a bid is coming, of that I’m fairly certain. After all, Bosch was interested 5 years ago and Seeing Machines’ business is incomparably stronger now. Moreover, the dream of widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles has been shown to be just that, a dream that will take decades to be realised. Thus leaving the field to those who want to make driven cars safer.

Great value

In view of all the above, there is just too much value here at a sickeningly cheap price. (I’d be saying that even if the price was 35p, not 5p). The market abhors cheap value, as much as nature abhors a vacuum.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Take your seat for the ‘Battle of the Titans’

Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats. The ‘Battle of the Titans’, the heavyweight takeover of the decade, is about to begin. The winner will be the champion of interior vehicle monitoring for the next decade, opening up billions in new revenue streams in vehicles while also preventing accidents. It should also be able to help robots care for us humans long after that. 

With the news that Mobileye has been granted non-exclusivity to market SEE technology in the Aftermarket sector, it’s clear that the company (majority owned by Intel) needs SEE’s driver monitoring technology to complement its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). It is now able to offer a one-stop active auto safety solution to its truck and bus customer base (who according to one source currently deploy over 2m vehicles). 

I’m even willing to bet that Mobileye wanted exclusivity, but Seeing Machines preferred to play the field, as it possesses the world’s most effective driver monitoring system (DMS).

Now that the dream of fully autonomous vehicles on all our roads has been seen to be just that, a reality that is decades away, DMS has come centre stage. As Colin Barnden, analyst at Semicast, astutely realised a while back: Mobileye needed DMS, the best DMS. And it now has access to it.

With Gen 3 Guardian likely to be available from Q1 of this calendar year, it opens up the possibility of a one-stop solution for Aftermarket being available in H2 of this financial year for millions of existing Mobileye customers as well as millions more truck and bus operators in Europe who aren’t.

As the scale of the market it will capture becomes crystal clear to players (and investors) Seeing Machines’ share price should rise substantially. Explosive growth in its Aftermarket revenues will also be coupled with sizeable Auto contracts and the much-anticipated Aviation deal. Financial analysts (commonly referred to as City scribblers) will then finally start producing broker notes with spiraling upgrades, as Fund Managers pile in. Professional investors can exhibit Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) just like private investors.

What’s the timeline? It’s starting now and will be increasingly apparent with every passing month. Notably, I’m expecting a trading update on the 22nd of February with a US investor show on the 8th March. Not to mention some big contract news between now and June.

Battle of the Titans

It seems my ‘Battle of the Titans‘ prediction is slowly (oh, so slowly) coming to pass.

However, unlike a boxing contest, the battle to acquire Seeing Machines won’t be a 2-person contest with Marquis of Queensbury rules. It’s set to be a bare-knuckle bout involving strategy and multiple bidders, more akin to a contest in an episode of Alice in Borderland. As I see it, there are at least 4 main contenders:

  • Intel (majority holder in Mobileye). 
  • AMD (owner of Xilinx)
  • Qualcomm
  • Nvidia – the dark horse? 

However, lurking in the shadows are many more players who must covet the technology that Seeing Machines possesses. Some are subsidiaries of Chinese companies, such as Omnivision, but I doubt that Australia (one of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance) would allow a Chinese company to acquire such sensitive technology which could have military applications. Do the remainder have the financial muscle and nerve to outbid the above chip companies? That remains to be seen.

Once the contest really gets going, I expect one of the three ‘A’s; Apple, Alphabet and Amazon to show their hand. They have the nerve, nous and financial strength to not only outbid the above chip companies but take Seeing Machines technology to the consumer market in a huge way.

I believe that this year is finally going to be fun for holders of Seeing Machines shares. Let the contest commence.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Magna-ificent performance from Seeing Machines

Following recent announcements relating to Magna, reinforced by analysis from CEO Paul McGlone at an investor event in London, I’m confident that Seeing Machines’ technology lead across, auto, fleet and aviation will soon start to be reflected in its share price.

The recent news that auto Tier 1 Magna is paying US$17.5m for the exclusive rights to use Seeing Machines technology in its rearview mirrors until the end of 2025, while also agreeing to invest up to an additional US$47.5m, just confirms its global leadership position in Driver and Occupant Monitoring Systems (DOMS). 

Crucially, the cash injection removes any concerns that Seeing Machines needs to raise cash. It is now fully funded to profitability in 2024.

The Canadian Tier 1 Magna has gone exclusive with Seeing Machines in rearview mirrors because it aims to the vast majority of that market, 100% has been suggested by one expert, as no real rival to their DOMS offering currently exists. By partnering with Seeing Machines it has a product that is apparently superior to that of its competitors in terms of price, performance, and time to market. That’s presumably why it won the huge A$125m VW contract in December 2021. 

By 2026, it’s likely that Magna will have won as much as 50% of the overall auto DOMS market in partnership with Seeing Machines – since half of DOMS is forecast to be delivered via rearview mirrors. Thus it will have done to its main rival Gentex what Qualcomm has done to Intel in auto. The huge VW win with Magna should have confirmed this, future wins certainly will. 

It’s no coincidence that both Magna and Qualcomm have chosen to partner exclusively with Seeing Machines. These moves should be seen as part of a strategic land grab that I expect to deliver Seeing Machines at least 75% of the auto DOMS market by volume by 2026.

That is because its competitors (Smart Eye, Cipia, and Jungo) aren’t winning anywhere near the number or volume of RFQs that Seeing Machines is. For example, Smart Eye appears to have effectively been replaced by Seeing Machines in forthcoming BMW models. The 10 BMW models featuring Smart Eye technology are from past wins, such as the X5 (2015) and M8 (2018). 

Of course, OEMs may do some dual sourcing. Speaking to Smart Eye last week its CEO Martin Krantz tentatively said that Smart Eye “will probably be in future BMWs”. I wish him luck but I don’t think it is going to be a threat to Seeing Machines going forward. 

Indeed, investors need to beware of looking in the rearview mirror at market share unless they want to crash their prospects for significant financial gains. For those paying attention to the road ahead, it’s Seeing Machines that is in the fast lane to market dominance. 

Over the past year, Seeing Machines states that it has won 80% of the RFQs for which it has bid. I’m confident it will maintain that win rate with the $A1-2 billion of contracts for which it is currently bidding.

Looking at design wins, Smart Eye currently boasts 94, while Seeing Machines has 120. However, even this figure fails to reflect the latter’s dominance. Not all of Smart Eye’s 94 ‘wins’ made it into production, in contrast, every Seeing Machines design win has hit the road. 

I’ve long admired the Smart Eye people – not least for their PR bravado – but it can’t blind me as to where I should invest my hard-earned dough. I’d also be doing readers a disservice if I didn’t state what I honestly believe. 

Following the Seeing Machines investor presentation Friday, (when the video is posted I will provide a link) I’m very confident that an inflection point has been reached.

Increased margins

From now on license revenues for vehicles hitting the roads will begin to ramp up for Seeing Machines. This is a very high-margin business as the main costs have already been borne in the development phase. It currently has a pipeline of A$395m in auto but this is expected to grow substantially over the next few years on the back of further wins.

Similarly, in aftermarket more large enterprise customers such as Shell are coming along. These margins for selling the product and the monitoring service are much higher than selling indirectly via distributors.

It should also be noted that Seeing Machines Gen 3 Guardian will be launched by the end of this financial year, opening up the prospect of huge scale-up in Fleet sales. The product has apparently been re-engineered to reduce costs yet will be better, with automotive-grade additions and much faster install times. In addition, there is huge money to be made from the service element of monitoring the drivers.

Thus, now there is clear visibility of increasing revenues and cashflows with SEE set to make huge profits over the next few years.

In addition, I’m still confident that a lucrative license deal will soon be struck to deliver See’s pilot monitoring technology into the cockpits of aircraft. Being early is the same as being wrong but I hope by Christmas I’m proven right.

Bids coming

As readers know, I’ve long believed that SEE will face a near-term bid. To that view some have argued that such is its success that it really doesn’t need a takeover to prosper, unlike some of its rivals who hope to be saved by one. I’d certainly agree with the assessment that Seeing Machines could perfectly well prosper as an independent.

However, even if Seeing Machines isn’t ‘up for sale’, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be bought. A wise man recently told me: ‘Great companies get bought NOT sold’. Well, I believe Seeing Machines is a great company.

Ask yourself, how badly must some company want what Seeing Machines has? Its technological lead, data, and market leadership would take years and many billions to replicate for even a company of the stature of Google, Apple, or Amazon. If you had the money (and they do) why wouldn’t you just buy it?

If Magna is prepared to pay millions for the exclusive use of SEE technology for a couple of years, why wouldn’t they want it permanently? Qualcomm, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia also have reasons to enter a bidding war when the starting gun is fired. Indeed, even Gentex does if it wants to win future DOMS rear-view mirror contracts and protect its market share from rivals such as Magna.

There’s even the argument that a consolidator might want Cerence and Seeing Machines to create something very special.

Value stock

As legendary value investor Irving Kahn taught, investing is an art rather than a science but I think were he alive today, he’d take an interest in Seeing Machines as it ticks many of the criteria he looked for in an investment.

The good news for investors is that they can now sit back and enjoy the ride. It has been substantially de-risked, which is why Cenkos upgraded to 25p last week. I expect the other analysts following the company to do likewise in short order as the contracts and license deals roll in. 

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines wins A$21m Japanese auto contract

Seeing Machines has won its first Japanese car manufacturer, rumoured to be Honda, in a deal initially worth A$21m (US$14.6m). The cars will go into production in 2025.

The actual headline figure for the win is highly conservative and is likely to end up many times bigger as the car manufacturer rolls out the technology across an ever-increasing number of models. This is what happened with BMW, Ford and Mercedes and I’m confident it will repeat here. 

Japan turns to Seeing Machines

The really important learning from this win is that SEE has finally cracked Japan, after years of hard work. Marc Bunce, an analyst at broker Cenkos, says: “We believe today’s win is a first step into the Japanese market and that the cost and performance advantages of Seeing Machines software and embedded systems approach, will enable it to win further business with Japanese OEMs.”

Hence, this will prove to be the first of many contracts with Japanese car companies that will confirm Seeing Machines position as the global leader in driver/occupant monitoring (DMS/OMS).

SEE already has a confirmed (conservative) auto pipeline of US$240m, although in all likelihood it is likely to be double that. As Bunce explains: “The ‘cumulative initial lifetime value’ of these award wins now up to A$345m/US$240m which we believe is predominantly based on conservative minimum production commitments for initial vehicle models. However, with actual production volumes usually much greater than minimum commitments, and the technology already being seen on models beyond the initial award win, we believe the likely lifetime value of these awards is already considerably larger.”

Global leadership

It’s now clear, as predicted here 4 years ago, that Seeing Machines is set to take over 75% of the global DMS market. Ironically, it seems that the market has de-rated its main rival Smart Eye based on this assumption without re-rating Seeing Machines. It is a position that, while frustrating to those holding the share, can’t last much longer.

Seeing Machines very dominance is the reason I don’t believe it will be allowed to remain independent much longer. With every auto contract won the importance of Seeing Machines to Qualcomm’s ambitions in the auto market become more obvious. Given that Qualcomm was keen to swoop on Arriver I expect the time is approaching when Christiano Amon will again reach for his wallet to try and secure the global leader in DMS/OMS.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon let the cat out of the bag in a recent interview, in which he discussed Qualcomm’s diversification strategy. He confirmed, after boasting of its US$16bn auto revenue pipeline and talking about the Arriver purchase: “Clearly M&A is going to be part of Qualcomm as we accelerate those non-handset businesses.”

With SEE’s auto-win rate increasing the prospect of an actual A$1bn pipeline isn’t very far away. If you also include revenues from its fast-expanding Fleet and Aviation divisions, Seeing Machines is a must-have for a chip company that wants to diversify its revenue stream.

SEE is almost totally de-risked, with earning visibility becoming clearer every month. The future cashflows from auto, fleet and aviation are going to be huge. Moreover, with the continuing investment in its intellectual property to ensure its systems remain far ahead of any rival, it has created a strong moat to fight off any would-be competitors for the foreseeable future.

Takeover target

By the end of its current financial year, all this should be clear to even the most sceptical investor but to savvy industry players, such as Cristiano Amon, it must be obvious now. Amon doesn’t strike me as the kind of man who would ever allow a competitor to eat his lunch – as Magna can bear witness.

Only Alphabet, Apple or Amazon would have the financial muscle to separate Qualcomm from its intended target. I’d add in Tesla as a wild card. Elon Musk loves pulling surprises and Tesla needs a decent DMS. Instead of blowing tens of billions creating an in-house solution he might just wake up one morning and decide to buy SEE.

Blue sky valuation?

As to valuation? Well, I’d value Seeing Machines’ Auto division at US$5bn minimum, Fleet about the same. Aviation isn’t as advanced but it’s a huge market that it is developing, so say US$2bn. In total, its intrinsic value is approximately US$10-12bn today.

Alternatively, If someone has the nous to offer 50p a share and SEE accept, well done. In 2 years they could probably float the company for 5x to 10x that. 

Some will doubtless say I’m talking nonsense. But the same naysayers said that 4 years ago when I predicted Seeing Machines would grab a 75% share of the global DMS market.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

SmartEye vs Seeing Machines

In view of the stellar PR coming out of SmartEye today, I felt it worthwhile to mention that while I applaud its chutzpah, I still don’t think its technology matches that of Seeing Machines. That said, I believe both will progress further and eventually be taken over.

Questions for SmartEye

Let me explain some questions that arose in my mind as I read the announcement from SmartEye today.

  1. SmartEye is saying that it has half a million cars carrying its DMS but, if so, they must be selling it very cheaply given the revenues announced.
  2. Given Seeing Machines has already stated that A$900m of RFQs are being decided right now, it seems odd that SmartEye should contradict this with the statement that “several smaller procurements are soon to be decided in the near term”. Is it possible that this is marketing speak for: “We’ve not won VW or Toyota”?
  3. As if to dispel this notion we’re promised: “Three of the largest procurements of DMS to date are due for sourcing in the coming quarters”. Really? Well, don’t hold your breath if you think SmartEye is going to win them against the combined might of Qualcomm and Seeing Machines.

Of course, I am biased purely because I’ve conducted one helluva lot of research. I believe Qualcomm is set to unveil a host of auto RFQ wins before Christmas, with Seeing Machines DMS/OMS in them. And yes, I’m convinced SEE has won Toyota and VW — I just can’t prove it. Certainly, I don’t hear SmartEye mentioning either company.

Regarding fleet, I believe the global Shell deal is set to be huge. I’ve heard whispers that it could be a caterpillar-style deal, with upfront revenues that will bring forward break-even. Though, with Shell in a quiet period, I can’t confirm.

Moreover, See’s fleet arm is making money, while SmartEye’s nascent fleet offering is still pre-revenue! 

As for aviation, we patiently await the imminent takeoff off of Seeing Machines’ licensing deal with L3. It appears to have been delayed by a year. Regardless, given the progress made, the idea that Seeing Machines aviation arm has no value is plainly ludicrous (not in an Elon Musk way).

Bidders circling Seeing Machines?

By the way, I’m still of the opinion that Seeing Machines is very likely to receive a bid from Qualcomm very, very soon. Indeed, one fund manager recently rang me to ask about a rumour he’d heard coming out of the US, regarding a possible takeover of Seeing Machines. He didn’t mention who it was or his source but, if I was Qualcomm, I’d get the ring on Seeing Machines finger fast.

CES might be the perfect opportunity to announce the betrothal to the world. (I also believe SmartEye will also get bought in due course).

My logic? I just can’t imagine that Qualcomm can risk SEE’s tech falling to anyone else, given its importance to its auto stack offering. Look at how it outmaneuvered Magna to get its hands on Arriver. Certainly, Apple or Alphabet have the potential to outmuscle Qualcomm, as they must also know its potential worth. Therefore, I believe a lot of wooing is going on behind closed doors. 

By the way, has anyone dared tell Elon Musk that buying Seeing Machines might get Missy Cummings off his back?

My advice to Seeing Machines: “Don’t sign any pre-nup until you’ve seen the size of their respective wallets. You’re worth at least £10 billion!”

(Do your own research, as the writer may have been high on life while writing this – Ed).

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

Is Seeing Machines set to be taken over within 6 months?

Following today’s interview with Seeing Machines CEO Paul McGlone, I’m convinced that Seeing Machines is set to soon follow Veoneer and be the subject of a bidding war, most likely within the next 6 months.

The main driver is its dominance in the automotive driver monitoring space, where it is set to win the lions share of a multi-billion dollar market over the next year. (My view is it wins at least 70% of the RFQs).

McGlone was very candid in the interview and the key part I’m going to refer to starts from around 13 minutes in. There he outlined the problem winning most of the DMS/OMS market brings to a relative minnow:

“In my opinion, this is the beginning of the consolidation in interior sensing. Not the end, the beginning. I doubt very much whether there will be 3 or 4 majors in this space 2 years from now.”

“One of the challenges we have right now is that with almost a billion dollars of RFQs, which is more than we’ve seen in our entire life, on our table today, and we expect another billion next year, we have a really important decision to make. Do we pursue it all, do we get selective and strategic about what we pursue? What are the investment implications for either choice?

It is very, very clear: if we pursue it all and we win at our historical run rate of 40 plus per cent it is a fantastic return on investment. So, over the next 2 quarters we’ll be looking in great detail around the volume of RFQs, the requirements in each of them…the cost of doing them and the return on investment. That is the big decision for us to make. We don’t have to make it now but we’ll be working on it over the next 2 quarters.”

I personally think the opportunity is so huge that even if Seeing Machines wanted to pursue the opportunity offered by automotive alone, it won’t be allowed to do so. However, I think they’ve already decided to sell if the price is right.

By the way, I think that price will be over £1. Looks silly when the price is 10p but huge contract wins haven’t yet been announced. When they are the price will rise and £1 will eventually look cheap.

Qualcomm grabbed Veoneer from the hands of Magna because it sees the strategic importance of active safety in automotive to its future business.

Seeing Machines is of even more importance as its technology is the jewel in the crown of active safety (an area that has grown in importance as the automotive industry comes to realise that mass adoption of fully autonomous vehicles is decades away). While car computer systems will increasingly carry out more tasks for drivers they’ll still need to ensure drivers are paying sufficient attention to take over when required.

Moreover, Seeing Machines technology, which at its height goes far beyond mere eye-tracking and helps computers to assess the cognitive load of a human (including whether they are incapacitated or not), has many uses that go far beyond passenger automotive. This includes trucking and uses in aviation (training simulators, ground control tracking and planes). Shipping and flying cars will surely follow and spacecraft would logically use it eventually.

Yet, its tech has uses far beyond transport: in XR headsets, mobiles, medical devices and robots. In all these markets Seeing Machines technology has the potential to deliver multi-billion dollar revenues to its owner.

That’s why, although I expect it to be valued partly on a forward order book in automotive, its dominance in the trucking and nascent aviation markets will also increase its intrinsic worth.

Crucially, it should also obtain a healthy premium for its strategic importance in developing future markets.

That’s why, although Qualcomm must be red hot favourites to take it over, there is the likelihood that another chip company (eager to spoil the party) or even a private equity firm (awash with dry powder and seeking to acquire valuable assets) will make a bid.

I also think a bid from Apple or even Alphabet is a strong possibility. Each will know its strategic importance to their future plans and be prepared to outbid Qualcomm for it. For example, after the money spent on Waymo for little real return it might make sense for Alphabet to hedge its bets and spend a few billion dollars to acquire a guaranteed golden goose like Seeing Machines. Equally, why should the forthcoming Apple Car not use its own DMS (from Seeing Machines) and use that technology in its own computer chips to power its headsets, mobiles and computers?

Of course, I could be completely wrong. After all, I once thought driver monitoring would be one of the hottest areas in automotive and look how that worked out.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Battle of the Titans draws ever closer

I’m glad to finally get confirmation from Seeing Machines that the Mercedes S Class contains its driver monitoring system. Especially, as this website was the first to reveal this 4 years ago. The additional models announced today are all good news too.

Okay, we all know about NDAs and lead times in the auto industry by now but, as the deadline for mandatory DMS in Europe nears, SEE is clearly benefitting from a rush for its tech from OEMs.

The good news is that there is a growing pipeline of auto wins that I expect over the next 6 months,  My firm view is that Seeing Machines will (eventually) be in a position to announce wins with VW (and Audi), Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Volvo etc. etc.

Seeing Machines has effectively crushed the opposition and with the help of Qualcomm and Xilinx is scaling up its auto operations beyond the expectations of many.

It’s also making huge strides in getting its technology into the real world via Fleet and Aviation. More on that in due course.

My view is that overall it’s heading for A$1bn+ turnover by 2025. Of course, until the news is ‘official’ and house brokers have put the numbers out, there will be justifiable scepticism. Still, the exact number is less important than the massive revenue and profit acceleration path it is forging. That is now becoming increasingly clear to a host of sweet-toothed companies that would love to acquire a de-risked jam factory.

That is why I expect there to be a massive battle to acquire SEE well before 2025. By late 2022, early 2023, I reckon.

The leading runners and riders will doubtless include some or all of the following:

Expect at least one left field bidder, who could even start the auction off with an opportunistic bid.

As to the price? Well, my minimum is £1 a share. My maximum is £4 by 2023.

A warning: I could be completely wrong. After all, maybe it really was blind luck that I guessed about the Mercedes S Class back in 2017. Moreover, circumstances and stock markets can change quite rapidly, defying conclusions based on fairly accurate analysis.

If you’re in two minds about this you have to ask yourself one question: “Do you feel lucky?”

“Well do you punk?”  (2m 11sec)

In any case, do your own research before investing.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Machines wins Apple for Back-up Driver Monitoring

According to my sources Seeing Machines will be supplying its new Backup-driver Monitoring System (Guardian BdMS) to Apple and is very likely to win GM Cruise, possibly Waymo also.

In the typically low key fashion in which Seeing Machines delivers good news to the market the announcement was put out more like a product release than an RNS. Hidden away in the third paragraph it stated: “Seeing Machines has signed an agreement with one customer and is in advanced discussions with a number of companies at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development.”

This is outstandingly good news for the AIM-listed minnow and means Silicon Valley has followed global car manufacturers (GM, BMW, Mercedes and Ford) in recognising Seeing Machines’ driver monitoring technology as best in class.

Apple, in typical fashion, has not replied to any of my emails on this subject but its secrecy in such matters relating to Apple Car is well known.

As stated in my previous blog post, I still expect wins with FCA and Toyota to be announced in due course.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines: it’s all about timing

I was slightly surprised at the timing of the revenue warning this week from Seeing Machines, as it has been clear for some time that Fleet has not being doing as well as expected with delays to Gen 2 and no news of business via Mix Telematics. 

It was a point that was succinctly made in the note from John-Marc Bunce, analyst at house broker Cenkos, when he wrote: “The news released yesterday regarding the fleet business is clearly disappointing, especially considering the issues with the Gen2 were first raised in May 2018”.

Given that Fleet (and Rail) have been perennial disappointments there will be a lot of pressure on Chief Executive Ken Kroeger to sacrifice someone. This might go some way to assuaging the anger of investors who’ve seen paper profits evaporate.

Yet, for me, it’s the timing of this announcement that’s of paramount importance. For by smashing the share price down It conveniently clears the way for a low ball bidder to come in and look like a white knight to investors.

I know that such a bid won’t immediately deliver anywhere near the full value that resides in this business – given the importance of its DMS technology to increasingly autonomous cars.

Still, many long-suffering shareholders would probably jump at the opportunity to sell at a very decent profit. Moreover, it ought to ignite a bidding war.

New contract wins

In any case, let me confirm that it is my belief that Seeing Machines:

1) Is set to win auto contracts with Toyota and FCA (news on the former is overdue).

2) Will be supplying its technology to one or more of these companies: Apple, Waymo and GM Cruise. (They’ll want more advanced systems than the non eye-tracking ones used by Uber, I’m sure).

3) Will see its tech used by Canadian Pacific Railway.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Battle of the Titans?

In response to my latest blog post, Colin Barnden, Lead Analyst at Semicast Research, wrote to me explaining why he thinks Fovio is of strategic importance to both Apple and Alphabet. Indeed, his analysis reinforces my feeling that the two may soon battle it out to acquire Seeing Machines — regardless of any initial low-ball bid in the 25p-30p range from another party that kicks off a bidding war. 

I’ve reproduced his comments in full below so you get the benefit of his insights:

Colin Barnden

“Do you hear the thud? That’s the sound of the penny dropping in Silicon Valley that autonomous driving is not easy peasy after all. Witness no robo taxi development stories since March, after the Uber crash. As you report today, witness also the speed of conventional OEMs starting to adopt camera-based DMS. This is a technology which I have repeatedly been told by people at Silicon Valley based tech companies is “at best an interim solution and at worst already obsolete”. Elon might think something like that, but a steady stream of auto OEMs seem to want to work with Seeing Machines anyhow. My view is that every auto OEM will have announced their plans for camera-based DMS by the end of this year, with most implementing the technology for production from 2021 to 2023.

Apple have been trying to get into automotive for several years. Project Titan never really got off the ground, but CarPlay has been well received. For Alphabet, they have to hedge their position that Level 3 is redundant and have already moved to Level 4. There are many articles discussing this, here is one: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/human-problem-blocking-path-self-driving-cars/

I totally disagree with that view and Level 3 is very much possible, but it needs advanced DMS and sufficient human factors research to understand what humans do in the seconds and minutes following handing over driving to machine intelligence. Seeing Machines are underway with this work, led by Mike Lenné and the CAN Drive project. As Tesla have found – and Cadillac proven – you cannot even do Level 2 safely without camera DMS and the recent EC legislation calls for mandatory advanced distraction DMS (camera-based) even for Level 0. Other regions will follow in my view.

Both Apple and Alphabet need it, ideally so the other doesn’t have the technology. Whoever wins gets a minimum 3-5 year lead on the other (automotive qualification alone is 3 years – and Fovio is automotive qualified). Remember Zuck bought WhatsApp for $19 billion so Facebook had a potential rival under control. Conventional metrics for valuing a company won’t apply, this would be a straight Battle of the Titans. I’ll be watching.”

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.