Tuesday Toast: October 9, 2012

by | Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Every Tuesday, RE:INVENTION toasts successful innovators and roasts the “toasted” (troubled companies that went bust or failed to commercialize disruptive ideas). This week is no exception. Today’s Tuesday Toast celebrates EETimes’ Silicon 60 and broods over American Airlines.


Congratulations to the Silicon 60, EETimes’ annual list of the 60 most promising semiconductor industry startups — emerging companies worth watching.

This year’s list (version 14.0) features impressive industry innovators in memory technology and processing, sensors and haptics, wireless communications, power semiconductors, optoelectronics, audio and security. More than half of the companies were founded in 2007 or earlier (a fact which piqued our interest). We recall recent times of yore when a startup was deemed a dead albatross if it hadn’t soared by year four. Are venture capitalists more patient these days?

EETimes Editor, Peter Clarke, offers this explanation: “It takes longer now to get more complex technologies to market successfully. The days of back-of-the-envelope business plan, $20 million invested, IPO and 10X ROI are said to be long gone.”


Speaking of “dead albatross and failing to take flight,” American Airlines continues its steep nosedive. MSN Money reports that the number of passengers flying American fell 4% in September to 8.3 million. The airline has cut domestic flights by 6% since filing for bankruptcy protection last November. Between service issues, maintenance woes, and pilot labor skirmishes, American Airlines is all but on life support.

“It’s a shame what has happened to American Airlines,” says innovation consultant and professor Morris Pondfield. “American Airlines was the first airline with a website and online ticket purchasing, the first to introduce a VIP Lounge and a rewards/loyalty program.”

We’ve all become used to airlines failing. The industry has been in turmoil since deregulation. Prices have skyrocketed. You pay through the nose to check luggage. Customer service sucks. Planes, pilots, and professional airline attendants literally and figuratively appear to be tired and worn out. The airline industry has forgotten good business basics. It’s amazing how many companies fail at the basics.

Smart companies focus on creating customer value as opposed to chasing revenue or cutting costs. They offer MORE to customers instead of LESS. They continually improve performance with cutting-edge technology and simplified business processes. They leverage innovation to make things better, not just cheaper. And they pivot when necessary to keep pace with an ever changing industry.

When it comes to American Airlines — sniff! sniff! — we smell burnt toast.

What advice would you offer American Airlines? Share your thoughts in comments below!

Know an innovative company that deserves recognition? Email us with deets: innovators-AT-reinventioninc.com. We may feature them in a future Tuesday Toast. Got a suggestion for future RE:INVENTION blog programming? Post a comment below!

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