Memjet CEO Lauer Talks Strategy as Debut Approaches for “Disruptive” Inkjet Technology

When I got a chance to sit down with Memjet CEO Len Lauer a few weeks ago, I was full of anticipation—because, for me, Memjet is a study in contradictions.

Memjet, as I reported in March, has been developing a host of radically innovative inkjet printing technologies for a worldwide market that was established decades ago, and has been dominated by global giants like Hewlett-Packard, Canon, and Epson. It has the look and feel of a startup technology company. Yet Memjet was founded in the mid-1990s and has roughly 500 employees around the world, including 50 now working at its corporate headquarters—which is probably within range of a No. 3 iron shot of HP’s San Diego Imaging and Printing Group.

Len Lauer

Len Lauer

And then there is Lauer himself, who resigned as one of the highest-ranking executives at Qualcomm, the San Diego wireless giant, to become CEO of a company that’s little-known—if it’s known at all—beyond the inkjet printing industry.

“Qualcomm is a really good company,” Lauer tells me. “I got along fine. I wasn’t looking to leave.” He makes it sound like it was an easy decision, once Memjet’s board agreed to establish the company’s headquarters in Rancho Bernardo, a San Diego suburb that also has Sony Electronics and Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems business in the neighborhood.

“In my view, it’s a businessman’s dream,” Lauer says. “It’s technology that represents a high-value proposition to the customer. It’s really fast. And it’s less-expensive.” He calls Memjet’s technology “truly disruptive.”

After maintaining a low profile over the past eight months or so, Lauer says Memjet plans to step into the open and increase its visibility later this year. The company gave a preview of what to expect in May, with the debut of the SpeedStar 3000, an ultra-fast label printer produced by … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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