Corrections or additions?
Life in the Fast Lane: PVI
These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 7, 1998. All rights reserved.
In the sports world it could be the best thing since
sliced bread — or the worst thing since 3Com bought the rights
to rename San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. But either way, Princeton
Video Image’s live video imaging system could someday be the next
step in the unspoken campaign to commercialize just about everything.
The product, called L-VIS, electronically inserts advertising banners
into live television broadcasts so that the image is viewable only
to the public watching the game on TV, not the spectators or the
PVI’s system uses a patented technique called pattern recognition,
in which a computer seeks out a particular area on a playing field
or stadium, and then pops a paid advertisement in that area every
time it appears on camera. So far, these virtual ads have appeared
on the backstop behind home plate or the midfield circle in soccer
matches, and in between the goal posts of a few preseason football
An initial public offering has given Princeton Video Image the funds
to get its patented electronic billboards on more screens than ever.
On December 16, the company sold 4 million shares of stock and raised
$28 million to build more L-VIS units and hire additional employees.
Shares of the stock, sold on NASDAQ under the symbol
PVII, opened at $7 and within the month increased to roughly $9. For
PVI, this IPO couldn’t come at a better time. A perennial money-eater,
the seven-year-old PVI has not experienced a profitable period in
its history, and by June 30 had an accumulated deficit of $19.5
A prospectus filed with Securities and Exchange Commission says that
PVI will "continue to incur substantial losses at least through
calendar year 1998 due to the significant costs associated with the
manufacturing, marketing and further enhancement of the L-VIS
The prospectus adds that for PVI to succeed, L-VIS will have to create
a new advertising paradigm that’s acceptable to a number of entities.
"The ability of the company to market successfully the L-VIS
will depend upon broad acceptance of its technology by at least four
distinct groups of participants in the sports advertising market:
television viewers, advertisers, broadcasters, and event rights
PVI has three large competitors, Symah Vision, a French company owned
by the LaGardere Group; SciDel, an Israeli concern owned by Scitex;
and Orad-ISL, an American venture owned by ISL and Ormat. Orad-ISL
uses a different method of delivering the virtual ads: the ad is
into an on-the-field camera, although experts claim that this system
could be foiled by a stadium shaking from applause. PVI has also
that larger broadcasting companies will most likely get into the ad
insertion fray should electronic billboards become an accepted medium.
PVI was started in 1990 as Princeton Electronic Billboard by Brown
Williams, chairman of the board, and Sarnoff alumnus. Williams
the patent for pattern recognition in 1993, and in 1995 changed the
company’s name to PVI. In January of 1996, PVI elected a new president
and CEO, Douglas J. Greenlaw, an MTV Networks alumnus. Last fall it
moved to 16,000 square feet at 15 Princess Road (U.S. 1, October 22)
with plans to increase its staff from 30 to 50.
L-VIS hit the market in 1995 and was first used by Comcast during
a Trenton Thunder broadcast. Its first major league contract was with
the San Francisco Giants, and new contracts reportedly have been
with the Giants and the San Diego Padres for this year’s baseball
season. Industry sources say that PVI has also approached the NFL
for possible deals. The company itself confirms that the opening of
the 1998 baseball season will mark the introduction of animation,
special effects, and 3-D, in addition to the static banners the firm
has previously produced.
Investing in PVI has been likened to providing
venture capital" to a start-up — but this venture is fairly
promising. "They seem to have the best technology out there,"
says one investor familiar with the company. "You’d have an
to make five to ten times on your money — if they perfect it and
the patents hold up."
The need for such a system is obviated by the rising costs of
rights, and unlike selling ad banners on the Internet, it requires
very little explaining to advertisers who are eager to find a way
to outsmart channel-surfers. Virtual ads could also, theoretically,
cover up mechanical billboards located at the stadium that carry local
ads — space that national broadcasters have historically begrudged
Andy Kienzle is the principal of a Hamilton-based multimedia firm,
Television Ideas and Software Inc., and was formerly president of
the video trade association, Moving Image Professionals. Kienzle feels
that PVI has found an promising niche. "They have something
he says. "They have a technology that should be a big money maker
because it’s a way of generating additional revenue for a lot of these
sports teams and providing additional opportunities for sponsorship
and advertising that a lot of companies are looking for. Is this
that the viewing public will get into? That’s another question. But
I think the revenue drivers are there."
PVI, he adds, should be a viable venture because there is no lack
of demand for places to stick ads. "These people have an ability
to put ads in front of a large audience, and that’s a valuable thing
for an advertiser, and for somebody who owns the space it’s a valuable
way to get revenue. I like the economic prospects."
How intrusive are the virtual ads? A sample video of PVI’s work
that virtual ads may be little more than new entries added to the
omnipresent commercial clutter. If it’s any indication,
electronic billboards will probably annoy viewers until they become
immune or desensitized. But, Kienzle adds, even if virtual ads are
somewhat intrusive, the public has a pretty high tolerance for
"Everybody accepts this encroachment to some degree," says
Kienzle. "Everything has a commercial affiliation — that
stopped it from happening. I don’t think this is going to stop the
electronic billboard either."
Like the TV time-out, virtual ads will probably not go away just
they bother viewers, nor will they replace commercials. Does this
mean that viewers may someday have to adjust to seeing cans of
superimposed on Cheeseheads or McDonald’s Fries fluttering through
the air under Grant Hill’s Air Jordans every time he dunks? Probably
not. One of PVI’s R&D-related tasks of the moment, say experts, is
locating reasonable spots for virtual ads. It’s up to the public not
— Peter J. Mladineo
08558. 609-497-9141; fax, 609-497-0948.
After eight years Escalon has moved out of Princeton
and its founding CEO has moved on to another endeavor. "I had
eight great years and enjoyed it, and now I am doing something I
enjoy," says Sterling C. Johnson, the former CEO who left in April
to work for a Denver-based mergers & acquisitions firm, Grayson &
Escalon can now be reached c/o Richard DePiano, the new president
and CEO, at 351 East Conestoga, Wayne PA 19087, 610-688-6829; fax,
609-610-254-8958. "This was basically a strategic move to minimize
the cost of operation and to become more efficient in terms of onsite
personnel and manufacture," says DePiano.
A venture capitalist who was a long-time member of the board, DePiano
has signed a lease for Escalon in the space that had been occupied
by his venture capital firm — Sandhurst Company — which he
says is being "wound down." Of the seven people who worked
at the Tamarack Circle office, four will remain with the company,
including Shawn P. Mullen, director of sales and marketing. John T.
Rich, vice president of finance and administration, will leave on
In November Escalon did a reverse split and reduced the number of
shares from 10.8 million to 2.7 million. At that time trading on
went from below $1 to around $5, and in the last two weeks of December
the stock went from $5 to $9.
Though Escalon had merged with a laser technology firm in 1996, it
sold off that business last year so it could concentrate on developing
systems for long term drug delivery to the eye that will eliminate
the problem of patients’ having to administer their own eyedrops after
surgery. Escalon has three patents (another one pending) on a tiny
device that sits under the eyelid, not felt or seen by the patient,
that can release drugs for two weeks or longer.
When Johnson founded Escalon in 1989, he had been director of business
development at the Liposome Company for five years. He named the
after his California hometown, Escalon, which means "stepping
stone" in Spanish. "One of the talents I have is building
businesses, and now I am helping other companies do the same
says Johnson. "I’m happy for the company to continue to grow and
the price to go up. The company had been undervalued for a long
Road, Box 71, Hightstown 08520-0071. Maurice Knapp, president.
fax, 609-586-5451. Home page: http://www.mico.mt.com.
Once 200 strong, the East Windsor outpost of the world’s largest maker
of scales and balances is now down to about 60 employees, and those
will be gone by the summertime. The firm is building an 80,000 square
foot headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Fewer than 20 of the East Windsor
workers will move to Ohio and the rest are taking a severance package.
Founded in 1954 as the U.S. headquarters of a Swiss firm, it merged
with Toledo Scale in 1989, was bought by a prestigious private
firm, American European Associates, in 1996. It went public in
and its stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange (MTI) started
at 14 and now hovers at 16 and 17.
Box 688, Plainsboro 08536. Stuart M. Essig, president/CEO.
fax, 609-799-3297. Home page: http://www.integra-ls.com.
A 36-year-old Princeton University alumnus has been appointed
and CEO of Integra LifeSciences on Morgan Lane, but Richard E. Caruso,
the founder of the firm, remains as chairman. Stuart M. Essig was
formerly a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he supervised
the medical technology practice.
Essig has an MBA and PhD in financial economics from the University
of Chicago and was senior merger and acquisitions advisor to a wide
range of domestic and international medical technology,
and biotechnology clients. His 10 years of health care experience
includes acquisitions, divestitures, strategic alliances, principal
investing, and capital markets.
"Stuart’s experience at Goldman Sachs will give Integra access
to a considerable wealth of relationships and business opportunities
that will help us to continue to fulfill our mission," says
The company’s stock trades on NASDAQ as IART; it develops and
BioSmart absorbable materials-based products that aim to control the
behavior of cells within a patient’s body to regenerate. Integra’s
Artificial Skin is the first in a series of products being developed
to regenerate body tissues (such as articular cartilage and peripheral
nerves) that usually do not regenerate themselves.
Essig’s four-year contract with Integra includes options for 1 million
Integra common shares plus deferred payment of 2 million Integra
The latter payment will result in a one-time, non-cash compensation
charge of about $6 million in the fourth quarter of this year.
Intek Stock BuyBack
Suite 304, Princeton 08540-6237. Robert Shiver, president and CEO.
609-419-1222; fax, 609-419-1221. E-mail: email@example.com.
After watching its stock drop from $5.75 to under $2 the mobile radio
services firm decided to buy back up to $1 million of its stock, which
trades as IDCC on the NASDAQ small cap market.
The firm offers specialized mobile radio services for public safety
facilities and owns Midland U.S.A. and Roamer One, which represent
175 markets in the United States, plus LMT and Securicor Radiocom
in the United Kingdom. The corporate office moved from Moorestown
to the Carnegie Center in September, 1997, and two staff positions
have been added for a total of eight.
Robert Shiver, chairman and CEO, says that the buyback is supposed
to be "another clear demonstrate of our confidence in Intek and
its future growth." The full stock repurchase would represent
about one percent of the approximately 42 million common shares
The stock traded 12 months ago at $5.75. Purchases will be made, he
says, "from time to time in the open market, through block or
privately negotiated transactions or otherwise."
It could be a classic case of the parent company feeling
abandoned by the spin-off, but no one’s saying it. Carl D. Van Dyke,
the president of MultiModal Applied Systems Inc., paused a few seconds
when asked about his former employer and direct competitor, ALK
and then offered what he called a politically correct explanation
of why he split off from ALK in 1992: "I felt that I wanted to
try my wings," he says.
ALK of 1000 Herrontown Road had no comment, although the suspicions
should be obvious: MultiModal, at 5 1/2 years old, is fast becoming
a major player in the transportation computing industry, the same
industry in which he once helped to define with ALK, the 40-employee
firm that employed him from 1985 to 1991.
Van Dyke, formerly a vice president at ALK, and fellow ALK alumnus
Ingrid Schultze Brandle have grown their company to 20 employees in
five years and are moving it from 3,000 square feet in Somerset to
6,200 square feet in Forrestal Village. MultiModal’s software package
is MultiRail, a Windows-based rail management system being used by
the majority of the major rail lines in the United States.
MultiRail users number only about a dozen but, Van Dyke explains,
he is aiming at the biggest rail companies. "Only 10 or 15
represent 95 percent of the rail business," he says. "Most
of them are our clients. There are 400 or 500 small railroads but
they aren’t the target of our business."
Steve Sashihara, the president of Princeton Consultants, which also
makes software applications for the transportation industries, says
that the rail industry presents a potential trove to software
"Running a rail network is a very difficult problem," he says.
"You’re running the police, the repair crew, you’re running
It’s not someone else’s problem — it’s all your problem, which
creates a great opportunity for railroads to optimize."
To help it compete with the road-based transportation industry,
explains, the rail industry was deregulated in the early ’80s and
has since bounced back and become competitive. "Part of this
is learning how to run with the best asset utilization it can,"
he says. "They’re looking for high powered tools."
MultiRail gets fairly high marks from those in an industry that talks
a lot about "asset utilization," says Sashihara.
you want to reposition your equipment to where the action is, but
at what price and when," Sashihara adds. "What MultiRail has
are models to help this planning and it’s worth a lot of money to
do it right."
Paul Stevens, president of Transport Dynamics at 103 Carnegie Center,
says that MultiRail is a "coherent way for the railroads to view
their scheduling requirements when planning the movement of freight
through the rail network." Within the railroad industry, he adds,
MultiModal is "viewed as being a very competent, knowledgeable
outside consulting service."
MultiModal and Transport Dynamics might both be converging on the
same light coming at the end of the tunnel. Transport Dynamics, which
has expanded from 5 to 18 employees since it was founded by Derek
Gittoes in 1995, specializes in real time decision support systems.
This is an area, says Van Dyke, into which MultiModal is currently
laying tracks. "The idea is to directly feed the databases that
drive the real time applications of the railroads," says Van Dyke.
Suite 270, Princeton 08540. Carl Van Dyke, president. 609-419-9800;
fax, 609-419-9600. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. URL:
1 Distribution Way, Monmouth Junction 08852. 732-821-1700; fax,
After five years of raising money for the regional
of the largest organization for women in the world, Nancy M. Ostin
has moved to take a job as the new executive director of the regional
chamber of commerce for Middlesex County. Though she knows most of
her constituents from previous volunteer work for the chamber, she
was introduced at a reception on Tuesday, January 6.
Ostin was development director for Delaware-Raritan Girl Scouts, and
she is credited with setting up the department, achieving a 200
increase in donations, and establishing a corporate advisory board
headed by Summit Bank’s Joe Semrod. Compared to other Girl Scout
"we are now regarded as having one of the premiere fund
efforts," says Ostin. Because of her success she has been invited
to teach development workshops for the national organization, Girl
The Middlesex chamber’s former executive director, Joan Wisniewski,
had come out of retirement last fall after her first replacement,
Joseph Berger, left suddenly after one year.
Ostin grew up near Albany, New York, where her grandfather had founded
an advertising agency. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston
in 1982 but also earned a master’s degree in foreign relations from
the University of Aix-Marseilles. She has worked in various public
relations capacities for Renaud USA, Rhone Poulenc’s agricultural
division, Parker-Meridien, and the National Needlework Association.
"For me the chamber job was an opportunity to serve the community
I know and where I make my home," says Ostin. Her husband, Dan,
is president of National Software Resource Corporation, and they live
in East Brunswick with their four-year-old daughter.
Ostin believes she can transfer her five years of Girl Scout
in volunteer management skills, programs, and services to her new
position. "The real advantage is that I have worked for a very
mission-driven organization. Lots of businesses — if they had
that same kind of direction and focus — would benefit from clearly
knowing their mission."
Don’t talk to Murray Reich about retirement. He tried
that at age 55. Then he started a second career as a gerontology
and interviewed 70 retired corporate executives who were leading
productive, and influential lives. None had planned to do what they
were doing in retirement. All of their activities had resulted from
being asked to serve.
"You have to wait for someone who comes along who appreciates
your capabilities for a particular task," says Reich. "Each
of us, at our own level, are asked to do things. Some are reluctant
to get out, saying `it’s too early,’ or `it’s too late.’ The people
who say yes meet other people and have fun."
The process, says Reich, "is being asked to do something that
you don’t think you can do — which turns out to be interesting
and challenging. The role each of us has is to be open, to make
marketable, to put ourselves in situations where we get these
Reich practiced what he preached. Someone asked him to consult for
a plastics firm. "But I don’t know anything about these kinds
of plastics," I said. "`That’s OK,’ said the owner of the
firm. `I think you can do it.’" What he didn’t know did turn out
to be interesting and challenging. One thing led to another and now
he is president of Tyndale Plains-Hunter, a firm that develops leading
edge plastic applications and that recently moved into space at
Road. Reich now works seven days a week, stopping only to accomplish
an exercise program — walking and T’ai Chi.
Reich’s career went like this: after graduating from City College
of New York he earned a master’s in polymer chemistry at Akron
He obtained a master’s degree in counseling at Trenton State at night,
and, while doing part-time consulting in chemistry, a doctor’s degree
in gerontology education at Teacher’s College, Columbia. With that
degree he taught college courses in ethics, the psychology of aging,
and human development, and worked with the Institute on Aging at
He helped found "55 Plus," the group for men who are retired
or have flexible schedules that meets at the Jewish Center. His wife,
Naomi, taught kindergarten and then worked in a retail toy store;
they have two seven-year-old grandchildren.
But when someone asked Reich to work on "degradable mulch"
film he was lured back into plastics. It was serendipity, he
"I never planned to do the things I did. I sold mulch film to
farmers all over the country."
When the technology was licensed to another company, the owner of
another company recruited Reich as a consultant, Reich started a
polymer project. Two years later the owner asked him to run the
and now he is president of Tyndale Plains-Hunter. The firm had been
doing research in 900 square feet in Ringoes but for production work
has moved to 3,700 feet at Princess Road and has made a significant
investment in equipment. The six-person shop designs and produces
plastic granules (high slip, high water absorptive polymers) for
and cosmetic applications.
We have three or four different materials that can make
up to 10 or 20 different products; we design the polymer composition
for a particular application," says Reich. "We make the
here and then granulate it for most customers for coatings, wound
dressings, and one area of cosmetics." The granules sell for $10
to $50 a pound and might be used, for instance, in a solution that
could coat a guide wire in a catheter.
Reich is in charge of the bookkeeping, the marketing, supervision
of R&D, and writing the patents — everything but production and
lab work. "It is challenging, exciting, and fulfilling," he
says. "In small businesses, what you do is not filtered through
meetings and conferences. You can make decisions much more
Flexibility of mind, body, and spirit is important for everyone, but
particularly for those who are aging. Reich believes the fear of being
embarrassed reinforces the general public’s view of old age as
with senility, rigidity, and disablement. "At a certain age you
get concerned about how you appear to other people," Reich says,
"and then that’s the end of it. You don’t want to be embarrassed.
You don’t ask stupid questions, so you don’t learn anything. You don’t
try something new, so you don’t develop new skills."
Reich was so venturesome about developing new skills that he enrolled
in modern dance classes at Princeton Ballet School. He was often the
only man in classes with women of all ages and, in spite of his lack
of skill, conducted himself with aplomb. "In modern dance you
get embarrassed all the time," says Reich. "But if you allow
yourself to be embarrassed you can do different, interesting
Says Reich, "In the `psych’ jargon, it’s OK to be stupid, to `not
know.’ The important thing is to have fun."
— Barbara Fox
08648. Murray Reich, president. 609-912-1050; fax, 609-912-1055.
Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540. Jim Scott, vice president.
fax, 609-419-8777. Home page: http://www.kelloggs.com.
The world’s leading cereal manufacturer relocated its east coast sales
office from Montvale because Princeton was more convenient.
and Cocktail Lounge in Ewing.
of the technical staff at the Sarnoff Center.
Nursing Home, she retired in 1997.
of an advertising agency, he founded the Princeton Chamber, and was
its seventh president.
for Weichert Realtors and then for Coldwell Banker of Princeton.
Brotherhood of Painters union, he worked at the Carnegie Center.
editor of the Papers of Woodrow Wilson. A memorial service in the
University Chapel will be January 24 at 1 p.m.
Gerald Sapnar Insurance Agency and the Office Cafe in Hamilton.
was a consultant with Hopewell Valley Associates.
professor at Princeton University and a therapist at Corner House.
A memorial service will be on Sunday, February 8, at 3 p.m., at
Martin in East Windsor.
financial advisor to the Rockefeller family and director at the
for Advanced Study. A memorial service will be held at noon on
January 10, at the Princeton University Chapel.
University dean, he was a nationally prominent labor economist.
Racquet Club in South Brunswick, he was a Comcast Cellular One
manager for AT&T and at McGraw-Hill Corp. on Princeton-Hightstown
Corrections or additions?
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