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Impinj Hopes to Raise $60M From IPO

The RFID chip, reader and software provider's second attempt to go public is more conservative—and better timed—than its previous offering.
By Claire Swedberg

Impinj was founded in 2000 by Chris Diorio, an associate computer science professor at the University of Washington and a professor at the California Institute of Technology, and scientist Carver Mead to provide microchips for RFID tags and readers. The company led the development of the EPC Gen 2 RFID standard. In 2006, the firm began selling fixed readers under the brand name Speedway, and in 2011 it started marketing RFID gateways that could be integrated with the company's Speedway readers. In 2015, Impinj launched software known as ItemSense that aggregates and manages data collected from readers. In addition, it cofounded the RAIN Industry Alliance, an industry trade group that promotes EPC UHF RFID technology.

Impinj's current principal shareholders include Arch Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Group, Mobius Venture Capital and Intel. Altogether, the five (and their respective entities) own approximately 47 percent of the company. The firm employs 208 people.

"We believe our market opportunity is massive," Impinj explained in its filing, noting that growth in the RFID technology market has been limited since the company launched. "Not only are the numbers of tagged items large and growing but so is the infrastructure, in both scale and investment, that produces, encodes, applies, reads and extracts business value from these tagged items." According to industry research, the company indicated, EPC Gen 2 tag IC volumes grew at a 27 percent annual rate from 2010 to 2015, reaching 5.3 billion in 2015, "and are expected to grow to over 20 billion in 2020."

Throughout the 16 years in which Impinj has been in operation, the company reports, the RFID industry experienced periods of accelerated adoption that were not sustained. The technology adoption accelerated in late 2010 and early 2011, but then dropped. That decline, the firm reports, was partially due to a patent-infringement lawsuit filed in 2011 by Round Rock Research against several large retailers and other end users. Round Rock settled with RFID technology suppliers in late 2013; however, some end users did not finalize their settlements with Round Rock until early last year (see Update on the Round Rock Patent-Infringement Lawsuit, Round Rock Completes Licensing Deals With Majority of RFID Vendors and What the Round Rock Settlements Mean).

Impinj's competitors for ICs in tags are NXP Semiconductors and Alien Technology. The company also competes with Alien and Zebra Technologies for readers and gateways, as well as Phychips and AMS for reader chips.

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