Saflink reorganizes: cuts work force in half, focuses on RT

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Thursday, November 2, 2006

KIRKLAND, Wash.--Citing the Registered Traveler program as a "phenomenal opportunity," Saflink's interim chief executive officer Steve Oyer said this week that the biometric security and smart card company is reducing its work force by more than 50 percent and is focusing remaining employees on its participation in the FLO Alliance, which is looking to capitalize on the U.S. government's airline security expedition program.
In fact, Oyer is serving as chief executive officer because former CEO Glenn Argenbright has given up that title to become general manager of Registered Traveler Solutions, a newly created division of Saflink. Argenbright remains chairman of the Saflink board and president of the company.
A month ago, Argenbright noted, "We've focused a lot of our corporate attention on [Registered Traveler] over the past couple years, along with a great deal of financial resources, as much as three to five million dollars ... Among all the programs and projects we're working on, there's nothing that has the complexity of partnerships that RT has."
This week, Oyer said that investment was warranted. "If you look at the history of this company," he said, "and biometrics in general, it has been a phenomenal promise of commercial application, but there hasn't been a wide-scale deployment to take advantage of it. [Saflink] has some of the biggest deployments that there are, but Registered Traveler is the first time that the general public will get to use something that is biometrically enabled on a large scale."
With Microsoft, Smiths Detection, JP Morgan Chase, Expedia and other others, Saflink, as part of the FLO Alliance, hopes to begin winning bids to expedite security at major airports starting in the first quarter of 2007, with an active program by this time next year.
The remainder of Saflink's operations will be focused on software licensing, and IT-focused authentication products.
"It's a logical progression from the utilization of Saflink's technology and position in the marketplace," Oyer said. "We have proprietary technology that has put us into some of the highest security and encrypted arenas that the government has demanded. Those businesses are not going to go away, but they're going to be focused in a profitable business model. They'll be licensed through the integrators and partners," which represents an attempt to broaden the application base beyond government jobs.
Oyer was most recently serving as the head of Saflink's audit committee. The current lack of an independent audit committee head has Saflink in violation of NASDAQ rules. The company has until March 27, 2007, to comply.
At the end of 2005, Saflink reported a loss of $47 million. The stock price has fallen from a high of $4.59 in 2004 to $.18 on Nov. 1, 2006.