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Zyvex profiled by Forbes

from the megabucks-for-nanogoals dept.
Senior Associate Ralph Merkle, Principle Fellow at Zyvex, notes that Forbes.com has an article on the company: "Zyvex, billing itself as the first molecular nanotechnology company, is aiming for nanoproducts that are at least ten years from realization, if they are even possible. Von Ehr started up in 1997, buying ten powerful microscopesóone for $350,000óand building a chemistry lab, machine shop and clean room in a 20,000-square-foot factory that hasn't shaken its new-car smell. Zyvex grew from 15 people in 1999 to 29 last year, and Von Ehr plans to double in size annually for the next several years. What started out as a plan to spend $2 million to $3 million a year for ten years has evolved into an ambitious effort to raise and spend $300 million over eight years."

5 Responses to “Zyvex profiled by Forbes”

  1. Noetic Says:

    Zyvex and the land of Oz

    Forbes gives a brief and very light look at a company that on the front appears promising and full of expectations. Zyvex is attempting to make something that should be about 20 years in the future happen now. Is this courageous ambition or ignorance of the incredible boundaries in front of them? Like all things in life; progress happens in stages. Large, momentous changes in the way we organize, and decipher our world do not happen overnight; they are the result of many different tiny steps by many different people/organizations. Over time these steps add up to a new discipline; computers, programming, internet, genetic manipulation, nanotechnology, etc. Once we understand the discipline it can be exploited for industry and profit. What zyvex is attempting is to squeeze about 10 or 20 steps into it's Texas headquarters, and as a result; become the living embodiment of nanotechnology. To understand this; it is helpful to realize that Zyvex was formed in the late 90's bull market; a time when literally anything with the glint of high technology sent investors tumbling over one another. Companies were born over night with only one intention by there owners: to go public, and become massively wealthy overnight. Was this the real dream of Zyvex? Coming back to Kansas, or more accurately, Romeoville Illinois, we see a company called Nanophase Technologies Inc. They currently make nanocrystalline materials for various fortune 500 companies, and one read from their press releases will tell you that they have more business then they can handle, and are moving into higher areas of research( remember things move in stages ). The point is that they do this now! They make money now! They aren't making nano-robots,nanogears, or miniature factories. They're simple making things last longer, and work better. Stronger,better materials. In Wall Street language; that's money. While Zyvex has an extraordinary talent pool; it faces several challenges: 1. In order for Zyvex to succeed in making the first assembler it must make all the parts, and processes, and software to make the assembler work. That's expensive, and alot for one organization to do. The first assembler will be built manually, and then they will have to devise some kind of manufacturing process. Think of the disciplines involved, and the degree of expertise that would be required in each. 300 million is a good start. 2. Their money may burn up before they reach any hint of an assembler. Investors will be very wary of a company that doesn't even have a product to sell. 3. There's no market for an assembler. Zyvex's website shows an example of a robotic arm replicating itself over and over. Why? To what end? What product? There is a likely market; microprocessors, but of course Intel, AMD, and others already invest billions into this area. Could Von Ehr really do any better with 300 million? 4. There are still many physical, and chemical limitations which have not been worked out. Atoms are not bricks. They are essentially small bundles of energy, and because of this; they are not fixed. They move and girate even while in a molecule. 5. Can an assembler exist outside a vaccum. if it can't; what good is it? The first assembler will undoubtedly be constructed in an artificial environment; where energy levels would be controlled, and allow for a stable construction of the device. Later improvements would have to evolove over time. How long would this take? How much money would go into this? 6. Competition. From both the public, and the private sector. In closing; it is not that Zyvex cannot succeed. A reduced set of goals, and a realistic outlook on the future will allow the company some measure of success, and a contribution in the nanotechnology quest. Offering nanotechnology services to other larger chemical/industrial/technology companies is a great way to fund larger R&D. But it is imperative to note that the other groups attempting something even close to Zyvex are multibillion dollar corporations, Universities, or the Pentagon, which begs the question; do assemblers belong outside of the lab right now? Isn't this more of a goal, a dream; then a viable business?

  2. Kadamose Says:

    Zyvex==Evil Empire && Is !=The Future

    When Zyvex first started, I was overjoyed. But, once I learned that the only reason for Zyvex's existance to begin with was the fact that it was here to 'commercialize' and 'capitalize' Nanotechnology, I immedietly started to pull all of my efforts against it.

    Nanotechnology has the potential to make 'EVERYTHING' free – unfortunately, the majority of the people on this world actually LIKE being SLAVES to a system that has never worked correctly since the day it was created, and it is these types of people who will do everything in their power to make sure that the money system stays intact even after the birth of Nanotechnology. However, regardless of what Zyvex or 'anyone' else does to try and prevent the utter destruction of Capitalism, they will fail miserabley because once Nanotech hits 'The Underground' (where everything 'commercial' is basically free to those who decide they are tired of society and political bullshit), the whole illusion that they spent several years creating, will come crashing down and the entire world will suddenly become 'awake' and Capitalism, Government Control, Religion etc etc will cease to exist. Lies and Delusions have NO PLACE in a Nanotech world – and that is exactly what Zyvex is – A LIE!!

  3. brian_dunbar Says:

    Just a Nit to Pick

    The point is that they Nanophase do this now! They make money now

    Minor point – in the Forbes article it states "The only publicly traded nanotech pure play with measurable sales is Romeoville, Ill.-based Nanophase Technologies (Nasdaq: NANX), which probably lost more than $4 million on $4.2 million in sales last year."

    They're making money, but probably not for a profit, yet.

  4. GregTrocchia Says:

    Re:Zyvex and the land of Oz

    **To understand this; it is helpful to realize that Zyvex was formed in the late 90's bull market; a time when literally anything with the glint of high technology sent investors tumbling over one another. Companies were born over night with only one intention by there owners: to go public, and become massively wealthy overnight.**
    In answer to this, I include the following excerpt from Zyvex's web page on investments (http://www.zyvex.com/Corporate/investment.html)

    ************************************************** Nanotechnology is exciting, and a company devoted to making it happen seems like a great investment. It's probably not; pioneering companies often fail to capitalize on their inventions. So here are some reasons why you might want to hold on to your money for a while: – Zyvex is a private company, which intends to remain private for some time (no liquidity). – There is no formal financial reporting currently required, and very little planned (no SEC reporting). – The period to investment payback is unknown, and possibly infinite (no guarantees). – We're far out on the risk frontier – some scientists claim molecular nanotechnology isn't even possible (no fear). If you are a small investor wishing to buy stock in a nanotechnology company, we commend you for your foresight, but cannot accept your investment. If you would like to make a contribution to the field, we suggest a tax-deductable contribution to the Foresight Institute, a non-profit educational and informational organization, or to the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, which sponsors nanotechnology research. **************************************************

    It doesn't sound to me like they are looking to separate gullible investors from their money

    **Coming back to Kansas, or more accurately, Romeoville Illinois, we see a company called Nanophase Technologies Inc. They currently make nanocrystalline materials for various fortune 500 companies, and one read from their press releases will tell you that they have more business then they can handle, and are moving into higher areas of research( remember things move in stages ). **

    Nanophase is a solution chemistry type shop, they don't appear to be trying for Molecular Manufacturing, as Zyvex is. In fact, if you were to ask which firm seems closer to taking advantage of the "high tech gleam" as you put it, my answer would be, Nanophase (note- I am NOT even hinting that Nanophase is doing anything wrong). Zyvex doesn't include (though it easily could have) the sexy-sounding "Nano" anywhere in its name and has not gone the "go public quickly" route.

    **1. In order for Zyvex to succeed in making the first assembler it must make all the parts, and processes, and software to make the assembler work. That's expensive, and a lot for one organization to do. The first assembler will be built manually, and then they will have to devise some kind of manufacturing process. Think of the disciplines involved, and the degree of expertise that would be required in each. 300 million is a good start. 2. Their money may burn up before they reach any hint of an assembler. Investors will be very wary of a company that doesn't even have a product to sell.**

    They might indeed fail, trying to bring MNT to the world is not for the risk-averse. As far as burning through money, Von Ehr seems content to remain private, my guess is at least until such time as a proof-of-principle has been accomplished.

    **3. There's no market for an assembler. Zyvex's website shows an example of a robotic arm replicating itself over and over. Why? To what end? What product? There is a likely market; microprocessors, but of course Intel, AMD, and others already invest billions into this area. Could Von Ehr really do any better with 300 million? **

    That arm is a "get your feet wet in self replication" project. A real assembler will make be capable of manufacturing far more than just copies of itself. I also point out that, when Intel was founded, many times its market capitalization had already been put into better vacuum tube and discrete circuit technologies. That fact did not prevent the microchip from blowing away all competitor technologies.

    **5. Can an assembler exist outside a vaccum. if it can't; what good is it? The first assembler will undoubtedly be constructed in an artificial environment; where energy levels would be controlled, and allow for a stable construction of the device. Later improvements would have to evolove over time. How long would this take? How much money would go into this?**

    A noble gas (i.e. inert) environment would also work fine, the key is to prevent unwanted random reactions from happening to your components or to the (few) reactive parts of the assembler. It matters little if the assembler itself is designed for a vacuum environment so long as it can produce things that can be used in the open air. The primary reason for a vacuum is, as I said before, unwanted side reactions and not uncontrolled "energy levels". Nanosystems has tackled the topic of physical and chemical limitations in impressive detail, I would strongly suggest reading it prior to asserting what has and has not been worked out.
    Greg

  5. atombuddy Says:

    Don't need to be so pessimistic.

    I don't think nanotechnology is going to be created anywhere but the private sector, as bad as that might sound. That doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world though. The nastier side of capitalism (arguably the majority of it) is, I think mostly perpetuated by ignorance – working class ignorance of politics and upper class (probably deliberate) ignorance of the condition the rest of the population has to live in so they can live in luxury. If nanotechnology were invented, I don't really think that it would be used to subjugate the majority when there is no longer any economic incentive to do so. The most worrisome prospect is perhaps military abuse, and general deregulation of what can be constructed in the home – these days kids can get info on how to make bombs from the net… tomorrow they could be constructed without effort in the home for free! Guy Fawkes' would be flying to Mars!

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