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Whatever happened to Memjet’s inventor? – Andy McCourt’s ReVerb

Tuesday, 24 September 2013
By Andy McCourt
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It is now almost 18 months since the US George Kaiser Family Foundation took full control of the Australian-developed Memjet print technology, invented by Kia Silverbrook and his team at Silverbrook Research in Sydney. In this week’s ReVerb, Andy McCourt finds out what Silverbrook is up to now.

Kia Silverbrook

While Memjet appears to have gone forward strongly, with more OEM deals signed by big names such as Xerox and Canon and no less than 14 Memjet-powered printers on display at the recent Print13 show in Chicago; little or nothing has been heard of notoriously media-shy Kia Silverbrook – he of the 5,000+ patents and passionate inventor.

The 2012 legal battle that was settled behind closed doors and saw San Diego CA based Memjet Inc take full control, has undoubtedly succeeded in commercializing the technology via OEM partner arrangements where the Memjet Waterfall print engine is incorporated into printers covering formats from labels, envelopes and A4 sheets up to 42” wide format and even an SRA2 sheetfed press from Delphax. While no one can doubt the brilliance of Silverbrook Research’s R&D, sellable products were elusive for many years with the notable exception of Australia’s RapidX who launched the X1 Memjet-powered label press at Ipex 2010.

But what of Mr Silverbrook himself? The Memjet settlement stated he would consult to the company but his name has not cropped up in any dispatches. Print21 can now reveal that Kia Silverbrook is still inventing away in the print media, health diagnostics and solar energy fields and now lists around 9,000 patents to his name, making him by far the most prolific inventor Australia has ever produced.

Kia Silverbrook’s main project appears to be Netpage Pty Ltd, a company he registered in October 2012 with its registered office at 6 Montague Street, Balmain NSW. Netpage is an App that magazine publishers can use to deliver interactive content from printed pages to smart phones and tablets. The pages are not simple PDFs or readers, they become shareable, archivable, organizable and are fully interactive with social media. www.netpage.com

In Kia’s own words from his Linkedin page:

“Netpage is the original inventor and developer of Interactive Paper – the thorough integration of the world of print with the internet. Having finally solved the chicken and egg problem (which came first, the content or the users?) that plagues all new media platforms, the Netpage Browser for Print has been launched. Netpage has been available since the December 2012 edition of Esquire Magazine in the USA and the March 2013 edition of Marie Claire. In Australia, it is available in various Pacific Magazines titles, including New Idea, Famous, Marie Claire, and Better Homes and Gardens. It is available on iPhone and Android smartphones, and automatically creates a web site for your clippings that is somewhat like Pinterest. Convergence of media happens only rarely, as once converged, media stays converged. The convergence of print and computing is a historic event, and is happening now. Netpage goes much further than you imagine, as will become evident over the next decade.”

Netpage is currently being rolled out by Pacific Magazines here in Australia. Marie Clare editor Jackie Frank told The Australia’s Media section the technology was “a dream” adding:

“It unlocks the pages of the magazine (but) it keeps the focus on the magazine instead of driving people off,” she said. “It’s the bridge between print and digital, completely connecting the two media.”

Pacific Magazine’s CEO and publishing veteran from his ACP days, Nick Chan calls Netpage a ‘game changer’:

We know we have the audience there and we know we have an engaged audience,” he said.”This allows us to sell off the page in a much more efficient way (and) start to demonstrate to advertisers that people do get influenced by magazines,” he told The Australian.

Netpage’s corporate structure is with Kia Silverbrook as sole director as a $1 company but the website, registered in the USA, lists David Brewster as ‘Board Advisor’ with skills in capital raising and as a corporate lawyer/strategist. He is also a visiting fellow at ANU Canberra’s Strategic and Defense Studies Centre and an acknowledged expert on the rise of India.

Silverbrook still lists himself as Founder and CEO of Silverbrook Research, since 1994, with Memjet having been ‘spun off’ in 2002 and a customer thereafter. His other interests include, since 2011, Superlattice Solar, a long-term project to develop thin-film photovoltaic panels able to generate electricity at 25 cents per watt. He is also Founder and Chairman of Geneasys, a genetic analysis device that can be used with PCs, Laptops and Smartphones to detect diseases from DNA material.

So this is where Kia Silverbrook, Australian inventor and serial entrepreneur, is today: still inventing and still entrepreneur-ing.

It’s good to know he still believes in print and, with Netpage, is bridging the gap between the printed page and the interactivity of smartphones and tablet computers, with some early successes with Seven West’s Pacific Magazines.

We haven’t heard the last of him.

 

 

6 Responses to “Whatever happened to Memjet’s inventor? – Andy McCourt’s ReVerb”

  1. October 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm,

    Nobody
    said:

    I’ll tell you what he is doing! He’s busy hiding millions of dollars that he owes Precision Mechatronics former and present employees. Trying to sell off companies worth nothing, and patents worth even less! He has no soul, who has placed many hard working families in very difficult financial times, and refuses to simply wind up the companies into administration so that the employees can get government assistance and move on.

  2. October 19, 2013 at 7:08 am,

    Unfortunate Truth
    said:

    Nobody knows the truth 😉

    Kia Silverbrook owns at least 5 companies.

    He currently pays nothing to the employees of these companies ($0/month).

    He hasn’t paid any of his ( ~300) employees for around 6 months.

    Genious inventor???

    The academic dishonesty of this man is unparalleled.

    Hopefully this fraud will eventually be exposed and all of the patents invalidated.

  3. November 13, 2013 at 9:49 am,

    Gelly Of Sydney
    said:

    As a member of a group of employees that haven’t been paid for the last 7 months, the situation is as follows, we’re attempting to go through the NSW courts to file an injunction against Silverbrook and has various financial entities, with the hopes to commence administration proceedings. Kia has unfortunately not responded to any of our attempts to resolve the issues through mediation and has left us with no other options but to go through the courts.

    The future doesn’t look bright. At the moment the vast majority of the remaining patent portfolio is worthless, what was of value has already either been given to Kaiser or sold off to Google. Whats left is of no value and a great deal of the so-called patents are nothing more than initial fillings meaning they require more filling and funding to become legitimate patents which can be asserted. To further that, it seems that, from information gathered from 3rd parties, Kia has been able to secretly move around various monies he had accumulated during the early to mid 2000s, and that chasing those funds will itself be a very costly exercise.

    Also I feel for the guys at Precision Mechatronics, my experience with them was they are excellent on deliveries of the products and manufactured to exact specs. That said I don’t that think there’s much hope for them recouping the losses they have encountered by doing business with Kia Silverbrook.

  4. December 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm,

    Ajay
    said:

    The guy is a crook. Check you stil have your watch if you ever shake hands with him

  5. February 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm,

    Ex Employee
    said:

    Precision Mechatronics was wound up by the Supreme Court on 4th Feb 2014. Good luck to the liquidators trying to find anything of value left. I’m certain that plenty has “gone missing” when the company was thrown out of the premises for not paying the rent, and everything was moved to a “Storage Warehouse”. At least the employees can now apply for the government safety net and get on with their lives.

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