Disappointing Rockley Photonics Earnings Linked to Production of Wearables

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Disappointing Rockley Photonics Earnings Linked to Production of Wearables

Pasadena-based Rockley Photonics is ramping up production of its wearable biosensors, but quarterly earnings underwhelmed due to increased expenditures, according to the company.

On Thursday, the eight-year-old company reported first quarter revenues of $1 million and a net loss of $36.2 million. By comparison, fourth quarter earnings in 2021 showed a revenue of $2.4 million and net loss of $7.1 million.

Rockley Photonics, a biomarker sensor company based in Pasadena and Oxford, England, is quietly making big leaps in the biometric sensor and wearables industry dominated by the Apple Watch and Fitbit. Apple is Rockley’s largest customer according to SEC forms, and—along with a joint venture with a China-based cable optics company, Hengtong Rockley Technology—accounted for 100% of the company’s business in 2020 and 82% in 2021.

“Over the last two years there has been an increased focus on healthcare from individuals who demand a deeper understanding of their health and from healthcare professionals who want a better and more accurate method of monitoring their patients,” said Andrew Rickman, founder and CEO of Rockley Photonics, during the earnings call. “This focus was about more than finding ways to cut health care costs, but to create a shift from the traditional sick care system to a more personal and proactive health care system.”

The company is essentially creating a suite of biometric sensors that can be tapped into on the wrist instead of at the doctor’s office. One sensor tracking body temperature, hydration and blood pressure that will likely show up in the later half of 2022. But Rockley’s leaps in wearables may best be seen in future manifestations of the Apple Watch.

Last year, the Telegraph reported what the company confirmed last week: that it is working on a sensor that could noninvasively monitor glucose, alcohol and lactate it shipped “to an early-access, tier-1 consumer wearables customer”.

Rockley’s onramp of new products is the primary source of the company’s bleak earnings. It spent $21.2 million on research and development, more than double of last year’s R&D. But Apple has said it is experiencing accuracy problems with several of its sensors and announced new features would be pushed back, which may have contributed to Rockley’s increased R&D spending.

The company went public via SPAC merger last year in a $1.2 billion deal. Stock is down 16.7% following its earnings announcement.


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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.