It was one of the most dazzling job interviews of all time. Vince Sollitto, then CEO of a struggling maker of LCOS chips and projection light engines named Brillian, entered into negotiations to merge his company with Syntax, the much larger Taiwanese manufacturer of LCD-TVs. When the negotiations were over, Solitto was CEO (now Executive Chairman of the Board) of the merged Syntax-Brillian Corporation, whose Olevia brand has since become one of the leading LCD-TV brands in North America.
Senior Analyst and Editor
It was a brillian (that is, brilliant) performance by Sollitto, and a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Now, the dog is amputating the tail. Syntax-Brillian recently announced its intention to close — or, if possible, divest itself of — that portion of its operations in Tempe, Arizona devoted to making LCOS microdisplays and light engines. The deed will be done, if the company has its way, by the end of this year.
"This decision is in keeping with our news release of October 9, 2007, in which we announced a 120-day action plan aimed at, among other things, optimizing the allocation of assets and improving profitability," said President and CEO James Li. The action is expected to produce a one-time non-cash charge of up to US$40M, and to save US$16M in operating expenses annually. "We have decided to…concentrate our resources in the LCD business…for the purpose of enhancing corporate profitability," Li said.
The only significant remaining market for rear-projection television (RPTV) is the U.S., but that market is projected by all of the market intelligence firms that cover it, to decline rapidly after next year. There are still some start-ups trying to convince themselves and their investors that they can make money in RPTV, but fewer and fewer people believe it.
For anybody who still has dreams of getting rich with RPTV, it should be sobering that one of the early developers of LCOS technology is calling it quits (Brillian picked up its technology, as well as its talented CTO Bob Melcher, from Three Five Systems). The time has come. Vince Sollitto’s rambunctious puppy will not miss this vestigial tail.