What do InVisage and InvenSense have in common?

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By Peter Clarke

InVisage is going to make its quantum dot image sensor technology available as a platform to enable other image sensor partners. Jess Lee said so in our CEO interview (CEO interview: InVisage’s Lee discusses an image sensor revolution). He also cited InvenSense as an example of a successful startup that is now publicly owned and that has rewarded its venture capital investors.

So let’s flip back a few years and consider InvenSense.

InvenSense was (and is) fabless – like InVisage. InvenSense was (and is) partnered with foundry TSMC – like InVisage. InvenSense decided to make its Nasiri process available to others through TSMC. So there is clearly a pattern here.

What InvenSense was also able to do was achieve rapid sales growth through design wins within smartphones and to go public. That is what InVisage is yet to do, but clearly has in mind to achieve.

As a VC-backed startup InvenSense grew very fast on the back of design wins in leading smartphones (see iPhone 6 chips discussed: InvenSense in, ST out) and went public in 2011 (see MEMS startup raises $75 million in IPO). And in 2012 the founder of InvenSense and CEO at the time – Steve Nasiri – announced that the company was opening up the use of its proprietary ‘Nasiri’ MEMS manufacturing process to others (see InvenSense opens up process to enable fabless MEMS).

For InVisage, what must come first – of course – are some key design wins, preferably in Samsung, Apple or Chinese brand smartphones, followed by a stratospheric rise in component sales. Then, with the value of quantum-dot image sensors demonstrated, InVisage can think about getting full value for opening its process up to others, and opening its business up to others by way of an IPO.

In the interview Lee certainly seemed in ebullient mood about exciting news to follow in 2016 but perhaps he should consider two particular aspects of InvenSense’s progress.

One is that, despite InvenSense’s own success with MEMS made with the Nasiri process, there appear to be no commercial devices yet coming through from third parties using the process. The second is that, just a few months after the process access announcement, Nasiri had left the company he had founded in what had hallmarks of a boardroom coup.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

InVisage ready to share image sensor technology

CEO interview: InVisage’s Lee discusses an image sensor revolution

InvenSense opens up process to enable fabless MEMS

iPhone 6 chips discussed: InvenSense in, ST out

MEMS startup raises $75 million in IPO


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