Innovation to Evolve

Earlier this week, and even earlier in the morning, I stretched out the Wall Street Journal and read that Facebook had purchased a company by the name of Instagram for $1 Billion dollars.  I put the paper down, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, took a big sip of coffee and started over again.  Picking up the paper once again, I re-read that Instagram was purchased for a Billion dollars.  This is the first time I had ever heard of Instagram.  Perhaps even more surprising, when I made mention of this acquisition to my wife and 2 daughters, it was my 11-year old that grabbed her iPhone and demonstrated the billion dollar photo sharing technology to me. 

Instagram is a company comprised of 12 people, and currently generates zero revenue dollars, but it bolsters Facebook by making the technology of photo sharing more friendly for mobile applications.  The purchase of this small company based in California is yet another example of how quickly a new technology and great ideas move.  Valuation of the company went from $30M in Feb. 2011 to $1B dollars by Feb. 9, 2012 (*source WSJ reporting).  Since mobile devices and technologies are reshaping the way we think, the way we work and the way we interact with each other, regardless of the current revenue, it was important for Facebook to stay ahead of the curve and acquire the technology.  Instagram had great value to Facebook in what is becoming the new “wild, wild west” of technology.

I began to put this acquisition into context as I headed out the door for work.  Although many may still consider Molex an old bricks and mortar company, it too is involved in the ongoing process to innovate to evolve.  New markets and technologies are helping to shape our direction, helping to drive new products, and helping to expand our current product portfolio.  Although Molex deals primarily in hardware, and Facebook/Instagram deal in software and social media, there are some parallels.  It is the all about the technology and finding new ways in which to innovate.  Whether a company has been around for 7.5 years (Facebook) or going on 75 years (Molex), changing with the market is critical.

Along with base business, it is the involvement in new and/or growing markets that are fueling the evolution in our business.  Solid State Lighting is one segment of business Molex is involved in, and commercial and residential applications vary from parking lot lighting to pendant lights.  Molex is actively engaged in Military/Aerospace products and delivering solutions for the ever changing military focus.  Utilization of more UVs (Unmanned Vehicles) is the latest trend, and applications in this area call for a much higher levels of automation than ever before.  With this comes the need for more creativity in solutions.  Molex is in development of new solar technologies.  By using SolarSpec™ junction boxes on the rear of photovoltaic panels, the consumer can capture the sun’s rays and create an alternative energy source.  In the area of automotive, all of “The Big Three” turned a profit for the first time since 2005, and designs in automotive are now as diverse as the available models.  Applications range from transmission and engine control modules to security and sound systems, and with the heavy consumer demands for more and more creature comforts, there are opportunities for a multitude of sensor modules available.  In the area of Medical, we are assisting on designs ranging from ultrasound devises to defibrillators.  The common thread in all these markets is the consumers’ drive for the new and innovative products.

Molex has over 100,000 standard products for applications, however, if none of these match the exact need, we also offer design capabilities to make a custom, specialized product to fit a customer’s particular application.  Solutions are as diverse as the applications they are a part of…. from tanks to tablets.

I doubt Molex will be looking at a Billion dollar acquisition any time soon, but you can bet on the fact that our design engineers have collectively run through a billion ideas for connectors.  What will be next blockbuster idea?  Perhaps the next big idea for a connector will be formulated today for application in the next device to market.

As for this morning, I plan to reserve the 45-minute commute to work to consider my own idea for the next Billion dollar start up….