Competition isn’t the issue. The issue is the way the company is run: I observe that investors are attracted to the company's product, but the big spend is on developing a sales organization. It is difficult and expensive to do this from scratch. What frustrates me as well is that a native sales force seems so outdated but everyone says "that's the way its done".
Since I just had the science fair experience with my 5th grader it very much feels like we shareholders are the kids with the science fair project (cool product!!) and dad (Phil) has taken it over to force a costly & time consuming sales org down our throats, while also taking all our babysitting and snow shoveling money.
As always I like to look at history. Sawyer's last company was Fusion, which was acquired by Baxter in 2002. The story I've heard a lot from two sell side analysts who cover this industry is that "Phil sold Fusion too early and doesn't want to make the same mistake with IVTY"
A few screenshots tell us something that offers perspective, a potentially different narrative and certainly a cautionary tale.
First, look at FSON's volatility / awful stock market returns!!! When it comes to the pain of stock ownership, Invuity shareholders have nothing on FSON shareholders.
Concurrently, look at how much stock Phil was taking on top of his salary compared to everyone else. It sort of looks comparatively the same relative to the colleagues but still a fraction of the +$1M he paid himself last year.
(it's a bit interesting / weird / tidbit to note that no one from the board or the executive team from FSON appears to be involved in IVTY. this could be totally meaningless and arbitrary but if you asked me to start a company tomorrow I'd hire people I've worked with in the past.)
All of it reinforces what's really going on here: they're building a sales force and the early steps are costly and is not going at the expected trajectory. but is it failed?
A few things to keep in mind ...
if history is a guide, stock market volatility should be expected
there is value in a good sales force, even if they haven't built it yet. and maybe they are learning / adapting as they go?
we originally bought this company b/c they were narrowing the gap between sales / marketing, here they have finally bridged it while growing (more slowly than expected) accounts and procedures.
... at less than 2x sales, why shouldn't we buy more?
two things have changed
the balance sheet. and this is where I erred months ago. i should have re-evaluated (and maybe sold) when they levered up, b/c that changed the valuation
... but standing here today the reasons for initially owning this have only improved
Investing is a very hard business. And let me stress it is preferable to become part owners of companies with master capital allocators at the helm. But I have found myself in certain frustrating situations and this is one. This is where research and due diligence come in. Information provides a reference point no matter what the market tells you day to day. For me, it's these three charts and a low valuation that of course could get cheaper still.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PAST HISTORY IS NO GUARANTEE OF PRIOR RETURNS. THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION FOR BUSINESS NOR A RECOMMENDATION TO BUY OR SELL SECURITIES. I HAVE NO ASSURANCES THAT INFORMATION IS CORRECT NOR DO I HAVE ANY OBLIGATION TO UPDATE READERS ON ANY CHANGES TO AN INVESTMENT THESIS IN THE COMPANIES MENTIONED HERE, WHICH I MAY OWN.