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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from _________ to _________ 

 

Commission file number 001-33660

 

CLEARONE, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware

 

87-0398877

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. employer identification number)

 

5225 Wiley Post Way, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, Utah

 

84116

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (801) 975-7200

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class


  Trading Symbol(s)


Name on each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.001 par value


  CLRO


The Nasdaq Capital Market

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

________________

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Larger Accelerated Filer ☐

Accelerated Filer ☐ 

Non-Accelerated Filer  

Smaller Reporting Company ☒ 

 

Emerging Growth Company  

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

 


Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☐


Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell Company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No

 

The aggregate market value of the shares of voting common stock held by non-affiliates was approximately $18.8 million at June 30, 2021, (the Company’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter), based on the $2.74 closing price for the Company’s common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market on such date. For purposes of this computation, all officers, directors, and 10% beneficial owners of the registrant are deemed to be affiliates. Such determination should not be deemed to be an admission that such officers, directors, or 10% beneficial owners are, in fact, affiliates of the registrant.

 

The number of shares of ClearOne common stock outstanding as of April 15, 2022 was 22,410,126. 


Documents Incorporated by Reference: None


CLEARONE, INC.

 

Annual Report on Form 10-K For the year ended December 31, 2021

 

Table of Contents


 


Page


PART I 1
Item 1. Business 1
Item 1A. Risk Factors 16
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments 26
Item 2. Properties 26
Item 3. Legal Proceedings 26
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures 26

PART II 27
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities 27
Item 6. Reserved 27
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations 28
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk 37
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data 37
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure 38
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures 38
Item 9B. Other Information 38
Item 9C. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections 38

PART III 39
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance 39
Item 11. Executive Compensation 41
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters 42
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence 44
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services 45

PART IV 46
Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules 46
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary 46



SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This report contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements reflect our views with respect to future events based upon information available to us at this time. These forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of the words “believe,” “may,” “could,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “project,” “propose,” “plan,” “intend,” and similar words and expressions. Examples of forward-looking statements are statements that describe the proposed development, manufacturing, and sale of our products; statements that describe expectations regarding pricing trends, the markets for our products, our anticipated capital expenditures, our cost reduction and operational restructuring initiatives, and future impact of regulatory developments; statements with regard to the nature and extent of competition we may face in the future; statements with respect to the anticipated sources of and need for future financing; and statements with respect to future strategic plans, goals, and objectives and forecasts of future growth and value. Forward-looking statements are contained in this report under “Business” included in Item 1 of Part I, and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in Item 7 of Part II of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The forward-looking statements are based on present circumstances and on our predictions respecting events that have not occurred, that may not occur, or that may occur with different consequences and timing than those now assumed or anticipated. Actual events or results may differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including the risk factors discussed in this report under the caption “Item 1A Risk Factors.” These cautionary statements are intended to be applicable to all related forward-looking statements wherever they appear in this report. The cautionary statements contained or referred to in this report should also be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that may be issued by us or persons acting on our behalf. Any forward-looking statements are made only as of the date of this report and we assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.  


 

References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “ClearOne,” “we,” “us,” “CLRO” or “the Company” refer to ClearOne, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and, unless the context otherwise requires or is otherwise expressly stated, its subsidiaries.



GENERAL 


ClearOne, Inc. (the Company) was incorporated in Utah in 1983 and reincorporated in Delaware on October 25, 2018. The Company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Company has other locations in Gainesville, Florida; Austin, Texas; Zaragoza, Spain; Chennai, India; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

 

We have been a global market leader enabling conferencing, collaboration, and network streaming solutions. We design, develop and sell conferencing, collaboration and network streaming solutions for voice and visual communications. The performance and simplicity of our advanced comprehensive solutions offer unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability and scalability.

 

Our comprehensive line of high-quality conferencing and collaboration products are targeted for large, medium and small businesses, as well as for personal use. We have been a global market leader in the installed professional audio conferencing market, where our products are used in numerous industries such as enterprise, healthcare, education, government, legal and finance.  

 

We have an established history of product innovation and plan to continue to apply our expertise in audio, video and networked AV to design, develop and introduce innovative new products and enhance our existing products. Our end-users range from some of the world’s largest and most prestigious companies and institutions to small and medium-sized businesses, higher education and government organizations, as well as individual consumers. We sell our commercial products to these end-users through a global network of independent distributors who, in turn, sell our products to dealers, systems integrators and other value-added resellers. We also sell directly to dealers, systems integrators and other value-added resellers. Our solutions save end-users time and money by creating a natural environment for collaboration and communication. Our partners, who are involved in system integration are benefitted with simpler project design and support costs with our products designed and built to work with each other seamlessly. 

 

On September 13, 2020, the Company, entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) with certain purchasers named therein (the “Purchasers”), pursuant to which the Company issued and sold in a registered direct offering 2,116,050 shares (the “Shares”) of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share (the “Common Stock”) at an offering price of $2.4925 per share, (the “Registered Offering”). The Company received gross proceeds of approximately $5,275,000 ($4,764,000 net of issuance costs) in connection with the Registered Offering, before deducting placement agent fees and related offering expenses. In a concurrent private placement, the Company issued to the Purchasers who participated in the Registered Offering warrants exercisable for an aggregate of 1,058,025 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $2.43 per share. Each warrant became immediately exercisable and had an expiry term of five years from the issuance date.


On  September 12, 2021, the Company entered into a securities purchase agreement with certain purchasers named therein, pursuant to which the Company issued 3,623,189 shares of the Company's common stock, par value $0.001 per share at an offering price of $2.76 per share. The Company received gross proceeds of approximately $10,000,000 and net proceeds of $9,288,000 after deducting placement agent fees and related offering expenses. In a concurring private placement the Company also issued to the same purchasers warrants exercisable for an aggregate of 3,623,189 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $2.64 per share. Each warrant became immediately exercisable and will expire on March 15, 2027. 


Company Information


Our website address is http://www.clearone.com. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to such reports are available, free of charge, on our website in the “Investor Relations” section under “Company.” These reports are made available as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. These reports are also available on the SEC’s website, which is located at http://www.sec.gov.


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS


For a discussion of certain risks applicable to our business, results of operations, financial position, and liquidity, see the risk factors described in “Item 1A, Risk Factors” below. 


Our Business Strategy

 

The Company’s primary challenge is the loss in revenue due to infringement of our patents by competitors and consequent reduction in cash flows due to operating losses and litigation costs. Our current strategy consists of the following three elements to overcome this adverse situation:


Continue our product innovation to bring to market products that are needed by our partners and end-users 

Cut costs to operate efficiently
Defend our intellectual property through litigation

 

We currently participate in the following markets:

 

All aspects of audio conferencing including installed professional audio conferencing through DSP mixers, USB based speakerphones and table-top conferencing; 

Professional microphones to support audio and video collaboration through patented beamforming microphones, ceiling microphones and wireless microphones;

Visual collaboration in all forms including low-cost room appliances, professional cameras, Bring-Your-Own-Device and cloud video services encompassing conferencing, interactive whiteboarding, webinar, and wireless sharing; and

Audio Visual Networking which includes network media streaming, video walls, sound reinforcement and audio distribution.

 

Our business goals are to:

 

Improve our global market share in professional installed audio conferencing products for large businesses and organizations;

Position ClearOne as the preferred AV channel partner uniquely offering a complete value-chain of natively integrated solutions from audio to video maximizing AV channel partner profitability;

Extend total addressable market from installed audio conferencing beachhead to adjacent complementary markets – microphones, video collaboration and AV networking;

Continue to leverage the video conferencing, collaboration and AV networking technologies to enlarge our current market share;

Focus on the small and medium business market with appropriately scaled, lower cost and less complex products and solutions;

Capitalize on the growing influence of information technology channels in the audio-visual market and introduce more solutions to these channels;

Capitalize on the convergence of audio visual and information technology to meet enterprise and commercial multimedia needs and the end-users’ transition from high-priced systems to low cost, complete AV room solutions and cloud services;

Leverage software-based platforms across all our product lines; and

Expand and strengthen our sales channels.

 

We will continue to focus on our core strengths, which include the following:

 

Providing a superior conferencing and collaboration experience;

Delivering the complete value chain for audio visual communication;

Extending our capabilities in product innovation through software-based video collaboration and AV networking

Offering greater innovation, interoperability and value to our end-users and channel partners;

Leveraging and extending ClearOne technology, leadership and innovation;

Leveraging our strong domestic and international channels to distribute new products; and

Strengthening existing end-user and channel partner relationships through dedicated and comprehensive support. 

 

ITEM 1- BUSINESS  

  

PRODUCTS

 

Our products can be broadly categorized into the following: 

 

Audio conferencing including installed DSP based professional audio conferencing, USB-based speakerphones and table-top audio conferencing

Professional microphones consisting of patented beamforming microphones, ceiling microphones and wireless microphones; and

Video products including video collaboration and AV networking

 

AUDIO CONFERENCING

 

Our full range of audio conferencing products include (i) professional installed DSP based audio conferencing and sound-reinforcement products used in enterprise, healthcare, education and distance learning, government, legal and finance organizations, (ii) mid-tier premium conferencing products for smaller rooms and small and medium businesses which interface with video and web conferencing systems, (iii) affordable USB-based speakerphones that can be used with PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other portable devices, and (iv) traditional tabletop conferencing phones used in conference rooms and offices.

 

Our audio conferencing products feature our proprietary HDConference®, Distributed Echo Cancellation® and noise cancellation technologies to enhance communication during a conference call by eliminating echo and background noise. Most of our products also feature some of our other HDConference proprietary audio processing technologies such as adaptive modeling and first-microphone priority, which combine to deliver clear, crisp and full-duplex audio. These technologies enable natural and fatigue-free communication between distant conferencing participants.

 

Our audio conferencing products contributed 40% and 38% of our consolidated revenue in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

 

Professional installed audio conferencing and sound reinforcement

 

We have been a global market leader in the professional installed audio conferencing market. We have been a pioneer in the development of high-end, professional conferencing products and we have established strong brand recognition for these products worldwide. Our installed professional conferencing products include the CONVERGE® Pro 2, CONVERGE Pro and CONVERGE SR product lines.

 

Our flagship CONVERGE Pro 2 and CONVERGE Pro product lines lead our professionally installed audio products line. The CONVERGE Pro 2 product line currently includes CONVERGE Pro 2 128CONVERGE Pro 2 128VT, CONVERGE Pro 2 128VTD, CONVERGE Pro 2 120, CONVERGE Pro 2 012, CONVERGE Pro 2 48VT and CONVERGE Pro 2 48VTD, The CONVERGE Pro product line includes the CONVERGE Pro 880, CONVERGE Pro 880T, CONVERGE Pro 880TA, CONVERGE Pro 840T, CONVERGE Pro 8i, CONVERGE Pro TH20 and CONVERGE Pro VH20. CONVERGE SR product line includes CONVERGE Pro 2 128SR, CONVERGE Pro 2 128SRD, CONVERGE SR1212 and SR1212A which together offer various levels of integration and features to allow a commercial system integrator to optimize a system to fit diverse conferencing applications and environments.

 

CONVERGE Pro 2’s broad DSP platform satisfies clients’ diverse audio needs with these features:

 

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Best-in-class audio delivered through next-gen Acoustic Echo Cancellation and Noise Cancellation processing with Acoustic Intelligence, advanced microphone gating and built-in DARE™ feedback elimination.

Powerful architecture with smaller footprint – 12 Mic/line inputs per unit, built-in USB audio interface, built-in optional Dante™ for networked audio.

Daisy-chainable design to support up to 144 Mic/line inputs, C-Link expansion bus with 64 channels and P-Link bus for scalable connection of peripheral devices including any combination of ClearOne peripheral devices, such as the new Beamforming Microphone Array 2, USB Expander unit, GPIO Expander unit and/or the new DIALOG® 20 Wireless Microphone system.

Supports video conferencing, audio and web conferencing, Skype® for Business meetings, in-room meetings, wireless presentation, and more.

Integration of VoIP or telephony, USB, and Dante™ for maximum functionality.

A new expansion bus that delivers increased audio-channel scalability to support large audio projects.

Ability to control local meeting rooms and audio distribution applications with flexible options – touch panel controller, BYOD dialer apps or 3rd party control modules.

Configure, manage, monitor and troubleshoot the entire system of auto-discovered devices with MatrixView™ and FlowView™ for visualized audio signal paths.

 

CONVERGE Pro 2 line of products is ably supported by a touch panel controller, a GPIO expansion box, a USB expansion box and a wall-mount Bluetooth Expander. CONVERGE Pro 2 VoIP SKUs are certified to interoperate with Cisco, Avaya and ShoreTel SIP based VoIP systems and also interoperate with Microsoft Skype for Business. 

During February 2020, we announced a new Touch-Panel Controller, a highly intuitive 10-inch touch-screen device, designed for ClearOne’s CONVERGE®  Pro 2 audio DSP mixers as well as COLLABORATE Live video conferencing room systems. Paired with CONVERGE Pro 2 DSP mixers, users can make and receive PSTN and/or VoIP conference calls, and multiparty calls with the easy-to-use on-screen dial pad. When paired with COLLABORATE Live, users can make and receive video calls as well as manage content sharing options.  

During September 2020, we shipped Conference Controller with 10-inch touch screen designed for easy control of ClearOne’s CONVERGE® Pro 2 audio DSP mixers as well as COLLABORATE® Live video conferencing room systems from a single device. The Conference Controller functions can also be conveniently accessed from a personal mobile device, eliminating the need for touching shared surfaces by downloading the free mobile apps. A perfect addition to ClearOne’s audio and video platforms, the Conference Controller can be paired with CONVERGE Pro 2 DSPs, allowing users to make and receive VoIP and/or PSTN conference calls and multiparty calls with the easy-to-use, on-screen dial pad.  When paired with COLLABORATE Live room video systems, users can make and receive video calls as well as manage content-sharing options. A modern user interface makes controlling conferencing functions as intuitive and simple as familiar mobile and tablet devices. The Conference Controller enables easy contact management with built-in search. In addition, the slim and modern industrial design blends well with modern conference-room aesthetics.

During October 2020, we announced the latest update of CONVERGENCE AV Network Manager software. The new update now has an organizational portal for multiple user accounts with support for up to 2048 combined devices and users. It also includes LDAP support and two levels of access — a secure administrator level for full access and a viewer level for monitoring with 256-bit encrypted device and user password management. CONVERGENCE software is a unified AV network management platform to monitor, control, and audit ClearOne Pro Audio and Video products and services. Remote real-time system access provides at-a-glance and all-inclusive dashboard views with unlimited scalability designed to support organizations of any size. The solution provides a powerful and elegant user interface on any browser from desktop to mobile. Users can stay up to date with email status notifications and can search, sort, and filter to find what is needed quickly. Efficient batch firmware updates can be performed on multiple audio or video devices at once. Users can also download, back up, or restore project files simultaneously for multiple CONVERGE® Pro 2 and Huddle DSP mixers, as well as their P-Link peripherals.  The software also offers many other features, such as: provisioning CONVERGE Pro 2 VoIP lines and viewing VoIP registration status; configuring and managing COLLABORATE® Live room codecs and COLLABORATE Space user accounts; and downloading logs and reports for devices, users, histories, and calls. CONVERGENCE supports integration with third-party management systems like IBM Cognos Analytics and Barco Overture via a RESTful web service interface. ClearOne’s AV network management platform is available in twelve languages.

During May 2021, we announced the immediate availability of CONVERGENCE AV Cloud, which significantly expands AV Practitioner recurring revenue opportunities for remote, real-time Management as a Service (MaaS). CONVERGENCE Cloud software is a unified AV network management platform to monitor, control, and audit ClearOne Pro Audio and Video products and services. Remote real-time system access provides at-a-glance and all-inclusive dashboard views with auto-discovery of Pro Audio devices and unlimited scalability designed to support organizations of any size. With the new Cloud option, AV Practitioners can profit on value-added MaaS opportunities to easily support multiple clients and multiple networks with fully secure, real-time remote system access on a single multi-tenant platform. The powerful and elegant user interface, in twelve languages, works on any browser and will allow full support of the AV Network with built-in video, audio, and chat tools for real-time communications as well as email and immediate SMS text alerts. Relevant information is quickly found with search, sort, and filter options. CONVERGENCE AV Cloud can be virtually partitioned for AV management by location such as building, floor, room, or any desired global topology. Practitioners can easily manage accounts, assigning three levels of access with Owner, Administrator, and Monitor roles; all housed on encrypted secure cloud servers. Client tenant usage can be conveniently tracked for invoicing and optional auto-payment reminders.

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Mid-Tier Premium Conferencing


Our premium conferencing offerings consist of  CONVERGE Huddle and INTERACT® product line.  Premium conferencing solutions are mid-tier, lower cost, conferencing product solutions designed to meet the needs of our larger customers with smaller conferencing rooms as well as small and medium businesses. CONVERGE Huddle is a versatile solution for multiple use huddle room environments at a price point that meets budget requirements for audio and video collaboration applications. CONVERGE Huddle connects to ClearOne or third-party peripheral devices, such as microphones, speakers, cameras, and display screens and applications such as COLLABORATE Space®, Skype® for Business, GoToMeeting ™, WebEx® through single clutter-free connection via USB 3.0 to laptop. It comes with the latest Acoustic Echo Cancellation and Noise Cancellation algorithms and a user-friendly CONSOLE® software. It can be mounted easily under a table, behind a display, on a wall or in a rack.The INTERACT product series is comprised of the INTERACT AT and the INTERACT Pro. Both systems can be easily connected to enterprise telephones, analog POTS lines, existing HD video codecs and soft video clients. These INTERACT systems also include a USB audio interface to connect to PCs, laptops and tablets, as well as to rich multimedia devices, such as video or web conferencing systems and emerging unified communication systems for enhanced collaboration. 

 

Speakerphone

 

Our CHAT® product line of speakerphones includes affordable and stylish USB based personal and group speakerphones. CHAT speakerphones provide full-duplex and rich full bandwidth frequency response for superior audio clarity. CHAT products are designed for a wide variety of applications and devices (fixed or portable) for greatly enhanced collaboration wherever and whenever needed. CHAT speakerphones are offered either as personal speakerphones under CHAT 50, CHAT 60 or CHAT 70 SKUs or as group speakerphones under CHAT 150, CHAT 160 and CHAT 170 SKUs.


CHAT 50/60/70 personal speakerphones are approximately the size of a deck of cards, and connect to PCs and MACs for rich, clear, hands-free audio and playback. CHAT 150 group speakerphones are designed for small group use. These can also connect many of the same devices and applications as the CHAT personal speakerphones but feature three microphones in larger design for use by a larger number of participants. CHAT 150/160/170 group speakerphones have the ability to add high-quality, full-duplex speakerphones to user enterprise telephone handsets such as Avaya and Cisco. CHAT group speakerphones make it possible to introduce rich, crystal clear conferencing capability without the need for introducing a separate traditional conference phone. CHATAttach® is comprised of two CHAT 150 group speakerphones which can be daisy-chained together to function as a single conferencing system for much larger coverage than a single CHAT 150. CHAT group speakerphones are integral to our media collaboration product line as our media collaboration products are tightly integrated with CHAT group speakerphones for high quality audio experience.

 

Tabletop Conferencing

 

Our tabletop conferencing product line offered under MAX® brand is comprised of the following product families: MAX EX and MAXAttach® wired conference phones; MAX Wireless and MAXAttach Wireless conference phones; and MAX IP and MAXAttach IP conferencing phones. Designed for use in executive offices or small conference rooms with multiple participants, MAX Wireless can be moved from room to room within 150 feet of its base station. MAXAttach Wireless was the industry’s first and remains the only dual-phone, completely wireless solution. This system gives customers tremendous flexibility in covering larger conference room areas. MAX EX and MAXAttach wired phones can be daisy chained together, up to a total of four phones. This provides even distribution of microphones, loudspeakers, and controls for better sound quality and improved user access in medium to large conference rooms. In addition, all MAXAttach wired phones can be used separately when they are not needed in a daisy-chain configuration. MAX IP and MAXAttach IP are VoIP tabletop conference phones which are based on the industry-standard SIP signaling protocol. These phones can also be daisy-chained together, up to a total of four phones.


PROFESSIONAL MICROPHONES

 

Our microphones contributed 38% and 31% of our consolidated revenue in 2021 and 2020, respectively.


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Beamforming Microphone Array

 

ClearOne began shipping the first generation Beamforming Microphone Array in March 2013. This product works with CONVERGE Pro 2 and CONVERGE Pro products. 

 

Beamforming Microphone Array 2, the next generation Beamforming Microphone Array started shipping in the last quarter of 2017 and affirmed ClearOne’s clear industry leadership with the following outstanding features:

 

Significantly enhanced and new echo cancellation, using direction of arrival determination for demanding acoustic environments.

Acoustic intelligence with adaptive ambience - faster convergence and better adaptation to changes in room acoustics, such as ambient noise from chairs moving, doors closing, chatter in the background, or any spikes in sound that alter the path of the audio, using separate acoustic echo cancellation for each fixed beam and inhibiting beam selection when the far end is active.

Dramatically better mic pickup, including using an augmenting microphone signal, sharpening the capability to detect softer voices.

Natural and clearly intelligible audio, even when two people speak at once.

Zero consumption of analog I/O and signal processing in the DSP mixer leaving those resources available for other needs.

Single cable for power, audio and control.

Two power options – P-Link and POE.

Daisy-chains with all ClearOne P-Link devices and works with CONVERGE Pro 2 DSP AEC mixers.

Easy configuration and management through CONSOLE software.

During the first quarter of 2019, the Company began shipping our patented Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile (BMA CT) to our partners.  All of the innovations developed for the BMA CT make the integrator’s job easier and more profitable. The BMA CT dramatically transforms how integrators can approach system design for ceiling tile installations, allowing for multi-array setups that can utilize a single, low-channel count DSP mixer while maintaining ClearOne’s high level of performance and reliability. Further simplification comes from the array’s built-in power amplifier, which allows each array to drive two 10-Watt, 8-Ohm loudspeakers. The BMA CT also features ClearOne’s proprietary adaptive steering technology (think of it as smart switching). This provides impeccable room coverage while eliminating the need to adjust individual beams. Integrators can daisy chain ceiling tiles via P-Link (ClearOne’s proprietary peripheral link) for larger conference setups – for simpler wiring and longer distances compared to networked home-run connections. P-Link also allows integrators to daisy chain additional peripherals such as wireless mics, USB Expanders, and GPIO Expanders.  The system supports all of this functionality with zero consumption of analog I/O and signal processing in the DSP mixer leaving those resources available for other needs.

During the first quarter of 2020, we announced two new additions to our COLLABORATE Versa family of products. COLLABORATE® Versa Room CT, provides all the equipment and accessories needed for exceptional room cloud-based conferencing. At the heart of the system, is the USB audio-enabled Beamforming Mic Array Ceiling Tile (BMA CTH). Thanks to its onboard processing, the BMA CTH performs acoustic echo cancellation, noise cancellation, and beam selection, so no external DSP mixer is required. The array’s adaptive steering (think of it as smart switching) provides impeccable room coverage. The Versa Room CT brings cost-effective professional conferencing audio to small and mid-sized meeting rooms. COLLABORATE Versa Lite CT is a USB audio enabled BMA CTH room solution. This solution dramatically enhances the audio experience for any cloud-collaboration application such as COLLABORATE Space, Zoom™, Microsoft® Teams, and Webex™, without the need for a DSP mixer. The system can be easily and quickly configured using ClearOne’s CONSOLE® AI Lite software with Audio Intelligence™ and Auto Connect™. A laptop or a desktop PC can be connected to the BMA CTH directly through the USB port on the USB Expander to share room audio. The included 50-foot CAT6 cable connects the USB Expander to the BMA CTH.

During October 2020, we announced our new BMA 360, the world’s most technologically advanced Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile, delivering unequaled audio performance and deployment ease. The ClearOne BMA 360 is the world’s first truly wideband, frequency invariant beamforming mic array with uniform gain response across all frequency bands. With FiBeam™ technology, conference participants will experience the ultimate in natural and full fidelity audio across all beams and within a single beam. Deep sidelobe beamforming, DsBeam™, provides unparalleled maximum sidelobe depth, below -40 dB, resulting in superior rejection of reverberation and noise in difficult spaces for superb clarity and intelligibility. 


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The BMA 360 is based on a dramatically new approach to beamforming that provides a new beam topology to easily achieve distortion-free, full 360-degree coverage of any room shape and any seating arrangement using ClearOne Audio Intelligence™. Further advancements in adaptive steering (think of it as smart switching) provide impeccable coverage of each conference participant as well as support for camera tracking. In addition to the advancements in beamforming technology, the 6G Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) delivers unmatched per-beam full-duplex audio performance. On-board audio algorithms, like noise reduction, filtering, and Automatic Level Control, eliminate the need for per-beam processing in a DSP mixer - requiring fewer DSP mixer resources. Finally, robust built-in amplifiers, configurable as 4 x 15 Watt or 2 x 30 Watt, provide flexibility for driving loudspeakers. ClearOne’s breakthrough technologies, FiBeam, DsBeam, and 6G AEC combine to create VividVoice™, a significant advancement for professional conferencing. The integrated features in the BMA 360 significantly reduce system design complexity, simplify installation, consume less rack space, and lower system cost. The BMA 360 also supports daisy-chaining of up to three ceiling tiles via P-Link for divisible rooms, or larger conference setups – for simpler wiring, longer distances, and lower-cost deployments compared to networked “home-run” connections via Ethernet. ClearOne’s BMA technology is protected by at least a dozen patents and pending patent applications.


During February 2021, we expanded the applications for our BMA 360, Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile with the addition of a new Voice Lift feature that allows its impeccable audio to be locally amplified and heard throughout classrooms, lecture halls, and large meeting rooms. ClearOne’s powerful breakthrough technologies, FiBeam™ and DsBeam™, already found on the BMA 360, enable exceptional new levels of Voice Lift performance. FiBeam technology makes the BMA 360 the world’s first truly wideband, frequency-invariant beamforming mic array that provides the ultimate in natural and full-fidelity sound. DsBeam provides unparalleled sidelobe depth below -40 dB, resulting in superior rejection of reverb and noise and providing superb clarity and intelligibility. With the addition of the new Voice Lift feature, the BMA 360 offers everything desired in a beamforming microphone array ceiling tile—superior beamformed audio, echo cancellation, noise cancellation, auto-mixing, power amplifiers, and camera-tracking functions. The ClearOne architecture offers easy setup and configuration for foolproof installation which benefits AV practitioners. End-users also benefit from the BMA 360’s reduced overall system cost for maximum return on investment. Each BMA 360 can have up to four Voice Lift zones to provide a simple and intuitive way to drive multiple speaker groups, allowing everyone to easily hear and be heard. Built-in 4 channel power amplifiers make wiring simple, convenient, and provide a large cost savings. ClearOne’s innovative combination of built-in power amplifiers and mix-minus zones makes the Voice Lift feature extremely simple to create and deploy. The BMA 360, now with Voice Lift, sets another industry standard for exceptional mic pickup distance and system gain.

 

Ceiling Microphone Array

 

The ClearOne Ceiling Microphone Array enhances almost any professional conferencing application which demands high-quality audio. The Ceiling Microphone Array is easily installed and combines affordability with exceptional audio quality. With three wide-range microphones mounted together into a single unit array, the Ceiling Microphone Array provides the rich sound of three individual unidirectional microphones while maintaining full 360-degree coverage. 

 

This product line was further strengthened in 2018 by the introduction of the Ceiling Microphone Array Analog-X series of ceiling microphones. These products feature superior sound quality, adjustability for desired height from 0 to 7 feet and numbered microphone elements for easy identificationThis product line was further expanded with the introduction of Ceiling Microphone Array Dante, a tri-element ceiling microphone array with built-in Dante audio networking for conferencing and sound reinforcement applications. Each Ceiling Microphone Array Dante utilizes three premium quality microphone elements to deliver 360-degree room coverage for boardrooms, conference rooms, telemedicine facilities and more. Dante networking technology offers simple installation with CAT5 or CAT6 cabling, and delivers uncompressed, multi-channel audio with near-zero latency and sample accurate time synchronization throughout the network.

 

Wireless Microphones

 

In 2013, ClearOne introduced WS800 Wireless Microphone Systems, including four new models of wireless microphones/transmitters (Tabletop/boundary, Gooseneck, Handheld, Bodypack) and a base-station receiver with either 4 or 8 channels, which connect to professional audio mixers. Since the Sabine acquisition in 2014, our portfolio of wireless microphone systems was enhanced by the introduction of digital compressed versions, Dante standard compatible versions and more frequency ranges catering to various international markets.

During 2017, we started shipping DIALOG® 20, the two-channel wireless microphone system. Leveraging the full power of ClearOne's robust, adaptive frequency-hopping "spread" spectrum technology within the 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, DIALOG 20 has several advantages over fixed-frequency transmission. DIALOG 20 incorporates flexible features and multiple options usually available only in much larger systems. While DIALOG 20 works seamlessly with all commercially available mixers, it boasts additional features when natively interfacing with our new CONVERGE Pro 2 or new Beamforming Microphone Array 2.


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VIDEO

 

Our video products include video collaboration and AV networking products. Our video products contributed 22% and 31% of our consolidated revenue in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

 

Video Collaboration:

 

Our Media Collaboration suite of products is led by our comprehensive portfolio of industry-leading COLLABORATE® branded videoconferencing and collaboration solutions. 


COLLABORATE Live 300 includes a free 90-day COLLABORATE Space web conferencing subscription, a Skype for Business client, SIP/H.323 video conferencing, wireless presentation and interactive whiteboard capabilities — along with one CHAT 150 speakerphone and one UNITE 150 PTZ camera with 1080p30, 12x optical zoom.


COLLABORATE Live 600 is a video collaboration system that delivers crystal-clear, full-duplex audio for medium-sized conference room environments.  It offers the same suite of built-in video conferencing capabilities, the UNITE 200 1080p60 PTZ camera with 12x optical zoom, an ultra-friendly user interface that’s as simple and familiar as the interface found on a tablet or mobile device, and a 90-day free COLLABORATE Space trial subscription. For audio, the system features two ClearOne CHAT® 150 speakerphones that daisy chain with CHATAttach® for crystal-clear audio quality. 

 

Rounding out ClearOne’s new COLLABORATE Live product line is COLLABORATE Live 200, a new video collaboration system with ultra-wide angle video capture, which is critical for viewing all conference participants in huddle spaces and smaller room environments. Designed specifically to meet huddle space budgets, COLLABORATE Live 200 features the UNITE 50 EPTZ 1080p30 camera with 3x digital zoom and a 120-degree wide-angle field of view. Other features are similar to those found in the COLLABORATE Live 300 system, including the free 90-day COLLABORATE Space subscription. 

 

Our Media Collaboration series also include COLLABORATE Space, a suite of solutions that unifies messaging, calls, meetings and, perhaps most importantly, minds in a way that will energize workflows and increase productivity for everyone involved in the enterprise. Designed as a persistent, user-friendly collaboration suite, COLLABORATE Space contains many powerful UCC capabilities, as well as the seamless ability to make calls outside the network. By adding phone credits on the account, customers can reach anyone in the world on a standard landline or mobile phone with the system’s integrated phone dialer. 


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With COLLABORATE Space, users can work together one-on-one, or in groups of hundreds, with integrated file sharing, searchable archives, and user presence information. They can connect with colleagues and contacts, via audio and video, with the most intuitive collaboration tools. Users can meet immediately or schedule a meeting and access a full suite of collaboration features, including file sharing, whiteboarding, annotation, chat, and meeting minutes. Team members wishing to move from email can also create searchable private and public channels, organized by topic, which can be accessed from anywhere. They can also search, access and store agendas, notes, messages, documents, whiteboards, session recordings, and more.  Finally, COLLABORATE Space runs on any device, from desktop to mobile, and on any standards-based video endpoint.


COLLABORATE Space Enterprise has all the functionality people have come to expect from a full-featured cloud collaboration app, with the increased security and full, enterprise control associated with on-premise platforms. In addition to “Enterprise” platform, COLLABORATE Space is available in cloud-based “Basic” and “Pro” versions.


COLLABORATE Space was preceded by Spontania cloud video, audio and web conferencing service that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Spontania offered all sorts of collaboration tools such as screen sharing, application sharing, whiteboard, annotation over presentation, recording, hand-raise and chat. The service is targeted for any workspace including mobile, desktop and rooms of any size; and multiple use cases including meetings, classrooms and training sessions.


COLLABORATE Space, our powerful cloud-based collaboration solution, added two new valuable features in 2020 - webinar hosting and Web RTC. COLLABORATE Space Pro and Enterprise meeting plans can be upgraded to include the new Webinar feature allowing session hosts to conduct video and audio presentations for up to 1000 participants. The new Web RTC feature works with all popular browsers including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox. The new Web RTC feature enables users to easily join full-featured COLLABORATE Space audio and video meetings using a browser with no downloads or plug-ins required. Users can accept meeting, webinar, and classroom invitations and join with a single click; easily sharing and viewing content within a browser window. COLLABORATE Space also added a feature where Microsoft Teams users can now enjoy a richer collaboration than that available within the Teams environment today. This richer collaboration experience includes better video quality, support for multiple cameras, support for multiple displays, and a persistent meeting space where chats, audio and video recordings, documents, meeting minutes, whiteboard sessions, and more can be shared in private or public channels for later access. Users can easily initiate a Space video meeting or join an existing Space video meeting within the MS Teams environment. Bring your own video and web conferencing – COLLABORATE Versa series offer a USB PTZ camera, a speakerphone and a central hub that connects the laptop to the meeting room peripherals via single USB 3.0 connectivity. COLLABORATE Versa, compatible with Cisco WebEx®, Google Hangouts®, Microsoft Skype for Business® and more, is also bundled with 90-days subscription of Spontania cloud video, audio and web conferencing. This solution is targeted at huddle spaces and medium conference rooms.


COLLABORATE Versa 50 features a ClearOne UNITE® 50 EPTZ 3x zoom 1080p30 camera to capture all participants in the room; a central hub for connecting to dual displays, cameras, audio endpoints, networks and other peripherals; a CHAT® 150 speakerphone with advanced audio processing for a rich conferencing experience; and a complimentary 90-day trial of COLLABORATE Space, ClearOne’s powerful cloud-based audio and video conferencing applications.


The COLLABORATE Versa Pro 50 addresses today’s AV collaboration needs for COLLABORATE Space, MS Teams, Skype® for Business, Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting and Spontania with a complete huddle space solution. It features a CONVERGE® Huddle audio DSP mixer for a professional audio experience, a ClearOne UNITE® 50 EPTZ 3x zoom 1080p30 camera, a ceiling microphone array with 360-degree coverage reducing reverberation and noise, and a complimentary 90-day trial of ClearOne COLLABORATE Space. Customers purchasing the COLLABORATE Versa Pro 150 get upgraded to a 1080p30 UNITE® 150 PTZ camera with 12x optical zoom. 


COLLABORATE Versa Pro CT, includes a Huddle DSP mixer and the Huddle-compatible and patented BMA CTH that is a perfect fit for small-to medium-sized rooms. The COLLABORATE Versa Pro CT is a great room solution for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) collaboration using any cloud-based service. such as COLLABORATE® Space, Microsoft® Teams, WebEx®, Zoom®, and more. The system includes the Company’s new BMA CTH Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile with built-in AEC, providing the same impeccable room coverage as the BMA CT using adaptive steering (think of it as smart switching). The COLLABORATE Versa Pro CT system also includes mic/line inputs with AEC, line outputs, 4x10 Watt power amps, USB audio, mobile phone jack, and HDMI. The system comes preloaded with a project file ready for the most common room configuration. Or it can be further configured using CONSOLE® AI software, now with enhanced visualization and Audio Intelligence.


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Additionally, both COLLABORATE Versa Pro 50 and Versa Pro 150 solutions feature a CONVERGE® Huddle audio DSP mixer for a professional audio experience, a Ceiling Microphone Array with 360-degree coverage that reduces reverberation and noise; and an optional clutter-free CONVERGE Huddle VESA mount.


UNITE 200/150 is a professional-grade PTZ camera series supporting USB, HDMI and IP connectivity. It delivers 1080p HD resolution, 12X optical zoom and is compatible with PC-based and Pro-AV applications, supporting wide range of meeting spaces.


UNITE 50 4K camera is plug-and-play ready with 120-degree field-of-view, digital zoom and pairs easily with any microphone/speaker combination. The UNITE 50 4K camera’s ultra-wide-angle field-of-view is ideally suited for PC-based video conferencing, web conferencing and unified communications, and other collaboration experiences in huddle spaces and small conference rooms. The camera also supports the USB Video Class (UVC) 1.1 standard for maximum compatibility with a wide variety of cloud and room-based solutions. Along with 4K30 resolution, the autofocus camera features 3x digital zoom and a full-function USB 3.0 interface for video and power. Its wide dynamic range provides support for optimal image capture — critical for all video conferencing.


During April 2020, we introduced UNITE 20 Pro Webcam, which easily mounts on a PC or laptop to provide full 1080p30 image with an ultra wide-angle field-of-view up to 120°.  A super-high signal-to-noise ratio and advanced 2D and 3D noise reduction provides superior desktop camera video quality.


During the first quarter of 2021, we announced two new powerful cameras that enhance the ease and visual quality of online collaboration beyond the capabilities of integrated laptop and PC cameras. With the new ClearOne UNITE® 10, the Company’s most affordable camera ever, and the feature-rich ClearOne UNITE 50 4K AF that includes Auto-Framing technology for automatic single- or multi-person capture, everyone can take on the new year with the confidence provided by stunning video that puts them in the best possible light. We recognized that millions of people were expected to use video collaboration tools, for the first time, and the rapid societal shift to home-based and remote work left a lot of people desiring higher quality video solutions to ensure they make a good impression and enjoy reliable, clear and efficient communication. For users who want to upgrade from the basic camera included in their laptop or PC, ClearOne has lowered the barrier of entry with its most affordable webcam ever, the UNITE 10. The small, powerful webcam supports up to 1080p video quality and offers autofocus. The UNITE 10 can capture five-megapixel images with a field of view up to 87 degrees, while major competitors at this price point only achieve 78-degree field of view. The UNITE 10 attaches to any PC or laptop with a simple mounting bracket, and a 1.5m USB-A cable ensures simple connection to most modern computers. The UNITE 10 is also available to dealers and distributors in 20 packs for commercial sale. The new UNITE 50 4K AF camera is a major upgrade over traditional webcams and introduces ClearOne’s new Auto-Framing technology that automatically frames meeting participants to maximize screen use through intelligent image algorithms and ePTZ automation (electronic pan, tilt and zoom). With 4K video quality at 30 Hz, auto-focus capability, 4x digital zoom, more than 8 megapixels of total resolution and an ultra-wide 110-degree field of view, the UNITE 50 4K AF ePTZ is equally capable of delivering incredible image quality from a home office as it is at capturing all participants in an office boardroom. The camera can be controlled through an IR remote, further simplifying use and enabling real-time control of pan, tilt and zoom to provide greater control when capturing multi-person meeting environments. A standard damping mount ensures fast, easy installation, while an included USB 3.0 cable provides both power and video. Both new ClearOne cameras enable life-like video quality to web-based conferencing applications including ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space, WebEx™, Google Meet, Zoom™, GoToMeeting™, and Microsoft® Teams.


During July 2021 we introduced UNITE 180 ePTZ professional camera that provides a full 180-degree panoramic field-of-view with “real-time stitching” to achieve a variety of useful viewing modes for any application and environment. Designed for professional-quality visual collaboration, conferencing, UC applications, distance learning, and more, the new UNITE 180 camera provides six viewing mode options as well as panoramic view for the ultimate in camera flexibility. Real-time stitching creates a seamless 180-degree panoramic view of wide spaces by bringing the views of multiple lenses together as one complete image. Large classroom settings, training centers, or any wide conferencing area are all captured and presented with perfect clarity in any of the viewing mode options. A 4x zoom further enhances the UNITE 180 feature set. The UNITE 180 is compatible with all popular cloud-based video collaboration applications including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, ClearOne’s COLLABORATE Space and others.


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS


During July 2021 we also announced the market introduction of Versa Mediabar, the Company’s first professional quality all-in-one audio and video capture device that combines the elegance and simplicity of a soundbar with the power of ClearOne’s intelligent audio capture and 4K camera technologies. Versa Mediabar provides high-quality visual collaboration, audio conferencing, and UC applications from a single integrated device, offering the simplest solution available for offices, conference rooms and home offices with virtually no setup required. With a compact design that can be mounted on a wall or attached to a video display, the Versa Mediabar connects via a single USB cable to elevate the soundbar concept into a powerful tool for virtual collaboration that includes AI-enabled auto-framing and people tracking. The Versa All-In-One Mediabar features a built-in 4K Ultra HD camera with a 110-degree ultra wide-angle field of view and a four-element microphone array with 360-degree voice pickup and intelligent DSP that provides acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and automatic noise reduction to ensure crystal clear audio capture. The camera combines electronic pan, tilt and zoom functions (ePTZ) with artificial intelligence to enable auto-framing and people tracking that keeps the speaker in view even if they move around the room. From huddle spaces and small meeting rooms to executive offices and home offices, the compact Versa Mediabar delivers all the power and clarity needed for daily virtual communications. In addition to its professional-quality audio and video capture, the Versa Mediabar also features a powerful built-in speaker with Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to serve double duty as a fully-featured conferencing solution or a Bluetooth speaker for impromptu calls using any Bluetooth device. These attributes make the Versa Mediabar perfect for popular cloud-based collaboration applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, and ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space. The Versa Mediabar supports standard UVC commands for control, making it a great addition to existing systems, while dual wall and display mounting options deliver freedom of placement and movement.


AV Networking

 

Our AV networking products are primarily sold under VIEW® Pro and VIEW Lite brands and deliver the ultimate IP A/V experience by streaming time sensitive high definition audio and video and control over TCP/IP networks. By combining audio and/or video content, meta-data and control signals into one digital stream in harmony with industry standards, its distributed, edge of the network architecture allows the hardware and the processing power to be distributed across any existing TCP/IP network. This leverages many of the advantages of using TCP/IP over traditional analog systems and other centrally controlled IP-based systems. VIEW Pro products are powered by ClearOne’s patented StreamNet® technology. A user can activate and control a single audio source or combination of audio sources, video sources, security systems, HVAC systems, lighting, and other room or facility monitoring functions such as paging or security access by just a single touch to its attractive touch screens. Alternatively, any PC, laptop, tablet, iPod, or other device with a built-in web browser can control the equipment connected to the system. VIEW Pro systems have no limits on the numbers of sources, displays, or amplifiers in a project and can be used in venues from high-end residential homes to large-scale commercial projects. The number of devices could be determined by the network bandwidth availability, number of media streams and its bandwidth requirements.

 

Converting an audio or video signal to TCP/IP preserves the digital quality of the signal across the network. Unlike analog systems, which lose quality over long distances, TCP/IP packets are decoded to retain the same digital quality as when they were encoded. The addition of Digital Encoder and Digital Decoder products with DVI/HDMI input and output enhances the flexibility of complete AV distribution system and makes it as easy to use as analog devices.

 

VIEW Pro solution provides 1080p60, H.264 high definition HDMI video-audio, 4:4:4 true-color, 24 bit per pixel video output. It comes with dual inputs encoder, single input encoder and single output decoder with balanced audio, general purpose control ports and clock synchronized video output. VIEW Pro system also provides PANORAMATM, a multi-view video composition and video-wall software application using its built-in video processing engine, without using external expensive hardware video processors. This continues to be truly differentiated in the professional market by offering complete AV streaming and distribution systems that can scale to fulfill projects of any size and complexity, from light commercial to the very largest environments. VIEW Pro products include E110 and E120 encoders and D110, D210 and D310 decoders. VIEW Pro solution also comes with multiple license options including audio mixing, video composition, video wall, multicast RTSP and local playback.

 

VIEW CONSOLE software gives integrators a comprehensive platform from which to configure, manage, monitor, and control VIEW Pro system installation using an easy, modern interface. The new toolset, which spotlights the latest in advanced software development technologies, works across ClearOne’s full line of VIEW Pro products. In 2017, we released an updated version of VIEW CONSOLE and PANORAMA software applications.


The VIEW Lite series includes an encoder, a decoder and a controller, provide essential functionality that meets the full needs of simple AV over IP applications while simultaneously delivering superb price-to-performance value. 


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS


PROFESSIONAL AUDIO AND VIDEO HOME OFFICE SOLUTIONS

 

During November 2020, we introduced Aura™, a comprehensive range of Good, Better and Best packages of enterprise quality audio, video, audio-video options and a free COLLABORATE® Space lifetime subscription, the award-winning video collaboration app to meet the growing home office market demand for professional audio and video collaboration solutions that match the quality found in a traditional corporate office.


COVID 19 pandemic had brought long lasting changes to the workplace. Home has become the new office for tens of millions of professionals who now need a work environment every bit as productive as their corporate office. Aura was developed to deliver that much-needed enterprise quality experience in the home. For homeowners, prospective homebuyers, builders, architects and designers, the purpose-built home office is rapidly replacing the home theater in importance. Aura solutions are geared for high performance professionals across multiple industries. Aura meets this growing need for easy to purchase and install commercial quality solutions that deliver HDConference® audio and true-to-life video technology through a variety of professional microphone, audioconferencing, videoconferencing, camera and collaboration component choices that optimize home office acoustic and aesthetic aspirations. Designed to be easily installed by both homeowners and installers, Aura owners are also supported by a dedicated sales and support team that is available 24/7.


MARKETING AND SALES

 

We use a two-tier channel model through which we sell our commercial products to a worldwide network of independent professional audiovisual, information technology and telecommunications distributors, who then sell our products to independent systems integrators, dealers, and value-added resellers, who in turn work directly with the end-users of our products for product fulfillment and installation, if needed. Our products are also specified and recommended by professional audio-visual consultants. We also sell our commercial products directly to certain dealers, systems integrators, value-added resellers, and end-users.

 

Our product sales generated in the United States and outside the United States for the years ended December 31 are as follows:

 

Revenue in millions

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 

 

Revenue

 

 

%

 

 

Revenue

 

 

%

 

In the United States

 

$

14.2

 

 

49

%

 

$

18.0

 

 

 

62

%

Outside United States

 

 

14.8

 

 

 

51

%

 

 

11.1

 

 

 

38

%

 

 

$

29.0

 

 

100

%

 

$

29.1

 

 

 

100

%

 

We sell directly to our distributors and resellers in approximately 58 countries worldwide. We anticipate that the portion of our total product revenue from international sales will continue to be a significant portion of our total revenue as we further enhance our focus on developing new products, establishing new channel partners, strengthening our presence in key growth areas, complying with regional environmental regulatory standards, and improving product localization with country-specific product documentation and marketing materials.

 

Distributors, Resellers and Independent Integrators

 

We sold our products directly to approximately 319 distributors and direct resellers throughout the world during 2021. Distributors and resellers purchase our products at a discount from list price and resell them worldwide to hundreds of independent systems integrators, telephony value-added resellers, IT value-added resellers, and PC dealers on a non-exclusive basis. Our distributors maintain their own inventory and accounts receivable and are required to provide technical and non-technical support for our products to the next level of distribution participants. We work with our distributors and resellers to establish appropriate inventory stocking levels. We also work with our distributors and resellers to maintain relationships with our existing systems integrators, dealers, and other value-added resellers.


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS

 

While dealers, resellers, and system integrators all sell our products directly to the end-users, system integrators typically add significant value to each sale by combining our products with products from other manufacturers as part of an integrated system solution. Commercial dealers and value-added resellers usually purchase our products from distributors and may bundle our products with products from other manufacturers for resale to the end-user. We maintain close working relationships with all our reseller partners and offer them education and training on all of our products.

 

Marketing

 

Much of our marketing effort is conducted in conjunction with our channel partners who provide leverage for us in reaching existing and prospective customers worldwide. We also regularly attend industry forums and exhibit our products at multiple regional and international trade shows, often with our channel partners. These trade shows provide exposure for our brand and products to a wide audience. We market our ClearOne-branded commercial products on our website www.clearone.com. We also conduct public relations initiatives to get press coverage and product reviews in industry and non-industry publications alike.

 

Customers

 

Since we sell through distributors and value-added resellers, we do not have comprehensive information on end-users who ultimately use our products. As a result, we do not know whether any end-user accounted for more than 10% of our total revenue during any of the periods reported in this Annual Report. Our customers are distributors and value-added resellers. During the years ended December 31, 2021 no distributor accounted for more than 10% of our total consolidated revenue.

 

As discussed above, distributors facilitate product sales to a large number of independent systems integrators, dealers, and value-added resellers, and subsequently to their end-users. The loss of one or more distributors could reduce revenue and have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. Our orders fulfilled on which we had not recognized revenue were $0.1 million and $0.1 million as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively. We had a backlog of unfulfilled orders of approximately $1.4 million and $1.0 million as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively.


Competition

 

The audio-visual product markets are characterized by intense competition, rapidly evolving technology, and increased business consolidation. We compete with businesses having substantially greater financial, research and product development, manufacturing, marketing, and other resources. If we are not able to continually design, manufacture, and successfully market new or enhanced products or services that are comparable or superior to those provided by our competitors and at comparable or better prices, we could experience pricing pressures and reduced sales, gross profit margins, profits, and market share, each of which could have a materially adverse effect on our business. Our competitors vary within each product category. We believe we are able to differentiate ourselves and therefore successfully compete as a result of the high audio quality of our products resulting from a combination of proprietary and highly advanced audio signal processing technologies and networking technology in the form of trade secrets and patented intellectual property, technical and channel support services, and the strength of our channels and brands. It is critical for our success to be able to defend our intellectual property including trademarks, trade secrets and patents from our competitors who have far more resources.

 

We believe the following principal factors drive our sales:

 

Quality, features and functionality, and ease of use of the products.

Broad and deep global channel partnerships.

Brand name recognition and acceptance.

Effective sales and marketing.

Quality of sales and technical support services.

Significant established history of successful worldwide installations for diverse vertical markets.


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS


In the professional audio conferencing system and sound reinforcement markets our main competitors include AcousticMagic, Biamp, BOSE, Crestron, Extron, Harman (Samsung), Peavey, Phoenix Audio, Poly, QSC, Shure, Symetrix, Vaddio and Yamaha and any original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners, along with several other companies potentially poised to enter the market.

 

Our primary competitors in the USB-based speakerphones market are Jabra, Logitech, Phoenix Audio, Plantronics, Poly, Sennheiser, Yamaha and Yealink and any OEM partners.

 

In the tabletop conference phones, we face significant competition from Avaya/Konftel, Phoenix Audio, Poly, Yamaha and Yealink, and from any OEM partnerships. A significant portion of the tabletop market is covered by sales through OEM partnerships. 

 

In the microphones market, our primary competitors include AKG, Audio Technica, Audix, Avlex/Mipro, Beyerdynamic, Biamp, Clock Audio, Lectrosonics, Nureva, Mediavision/Taiden, Poly, Phoenix Audio, Sennheiser, Shure, TeachLogic, TOA, Yamaha and Vaddio and any OEM partners.

 

Our video conferencing products face tremendous competition from well established players as well as emerging players, including Acano/CISCO, Adobe Connect, Amazon Chime, Avaya (Radvision), Aver, Barco, Blackboard Collaborate, Blue Jeans, Cisco, Citrix, Fuze, Huawei, InFocus, Kramer, LifeSize, Magor, Pexip, Poly, Microsoft, Starleaf, UNIFY, Videxio, Vidyo, Yealink, Zoom and ZTE.

 

Our AV networking products face intense competition from a few well-established corporations of diversified capabilities and strengths, including Atlona, Aurora Multimedia, Barco, Biamp, Crestron, Extron, Gefen, Haivision, Hall Research, Harman, Infocus (Jupiter), Key Digital, Kramer, Liberty AV, Magenta Research, Matrox, Mediasite, Ncast, RGB Spectrum, voLANte, Teracue, tvONE, VBrick, Visionary Solutions, WyreStorm and ZeeVee. We believe that our software based patented technology delivers superior audio and video streaming performance and flexibility and provides us with a competitive edge over other industry players.


Sources and Availability of Raw Materials

 

We manufacture our products through electronics manufacturing services (“EMS”) providers, who are generally responsible for sourcing and procuring required raw materials and components. Most of the components that our EMS providers require for manufacturing our products are readily available from a number of sources. During 2020 and after, we witnessed a significant tightening of the electronics market with demand for electronic products especially for semiconductors which include memories and processors, far exceeding the supply along with surging inflation caused price increases and longer fulfillment cycles. COVID-19 completely disrupted the entire supply chain and extended the already lengthy fulfillment cycles. Continued tariff wars between USA and China created more uncertainty with respect to pricing and consequently affected the supply chain.

 

We continually work with our EMS providers to seek alternative sources for all our components and raw material requirements to ensure higher quality and better pricing. Most of our EMS providers and their vendors are duly qualified by our corporate quality assurance process. We work with our EMS providers to ensure that raw materials and components conform to our specifications.

 

Manufacturing

 

Currently, all of our products are manufactured by EMS providers. Our primary EMS provider is Flextronics.

 

Seasonality

 

We do not recognize a consistent pattern between the quarters to identify seasonality.


ITEM 1 - BUSINESS

 

Research and Product Development

 

We are committed to research and product development and view our continued investment in research and product development as a key ingredient to our long-term business success. Our research and product development expenditures were approximately $5.8 million and $5.5 million during the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively.

 

Our core competencies in research and product development include (a) many audio technologies, including acoustic echo cancellation, noise cancellation and other advanced adaptive digital signal processing technologies, (b) networking and multimedia streaming technologies, (c) video technologies, and (d) cloud technologies. We also have expertise in wireless technologies, VoIP, software and network system development. We believe that continued investment in our core technological competencies is vital to developing new products and to enhancing existing products.

 

Intellectual Property and Other Proprietary Rights

 

We believe that our success depends in part on our ability to protect our proprietary rights. We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws and confidentiality agreements and processes to protect our proprietary rights.

 

As of December 31, 2021, we had approximately 82 patents and 15 pending patent applications, including foreign counterpart patents and foreign applications. Our patents and pending patent applications cover a wide range of our products and services including, but not limited to acoustic echo cancellation, beamforming microphone arrays, systems that enable streaming media over IP networks, algorithms for video processing, wireless conferencing systems, spatial audio, and technologies for the Internet of Things. The durations of our patents are determined by the laws of the country of issuance. For the U.S., patents may be 17 years from the date of issuance of the patent or 20 years from the date of its filing, depending upon when the patent application was filed. In addition, we hold numerous U.S. trademarks. The laws of foreign countries may not protect our intellectual property to the same degree as the laws of the United States.


We will obtain patents and other intellectual property rights used in connection with our business when practicable and appropriate. Our intellectual property policy is to protect our products, technology and processes by asserting our intellectual property rights where appropriate and prudent. From time to time, assertions of infringement of certain patents or other intellectual property rights of others have been made against us. In addition, the Company is involved in patent infringement lawsuits against Shure Inc. ("Shure"). See Note 8 – Commitments and Contingencies – Legal Proceedings – Intellectual Property Litigation for a discussion of these legal proceedings.

 

We are dependent on our intellectual property. If we are not able to protect our proprietary rights or if those rights are invalidated or circumvented, our business may be adversely affected. We may be subject to litigation and infringement claims, which could cause us to incur significant expenses or prevent us from selling our products or services. For more information concerning the risks related to patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors-Risks Related to our Business.”

 

We generally require our employees, certain customers and partners to enter into confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements before we disclose any confidential aspect of our technology, services, or business. In addition, our employees are required to assign to us any proprietary information, inventions, or other technology created during the term of their employment with us. However, these precautions may not be sufficient to protect us from misappropriation or infringement of our intellectual property.

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2021, we had 107 full-time employees. Of these employees, 62 were located in the U.S. and 45 in locations outside the U.S. None of our employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement and we believe our relationship with our employees is good. We also hire contractors with specific skill sets to meet our operational needs.



 

Investors should carefully consider the risks described below. The risks described below are not the only ones we face and there are risks that we are not presently aware of or that we currently believe are immaterial that may also impair our business operations. Any of these risks could harm our business. The trading price of our common stock could decline significantly due to any of these risks, and investors may lose all or part of their investment. In assessing these risks, investors should also refer to the other information contained or incorporated by reference in this annual report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes.

 

Risks Relating to Our Business

 

We face intense competition in all markets for our products and services and our operating results will be adversely affected if we cannot compete effectively against other companies.

 

The markets for our products and services are characterized by intense competition, pricing pressures and rapid technological change. Our competitive landscape continues to rapidly evolve, in particular with respect to our video-related services and products, as we move into new markets for video collaboration such as mobile, social and cloud-delivered video. We compete with businesses having substantially greater financial, research and product development, manufacturing, marketing, and other resources than we do. In addition, many of our current competitors, as well as many of our potential competitors, are private companies not subject to the costs and disclosure requirements applicable to us as a public company, have longer operating histories, significantly greater resources to invest in new technologies and more substantial experience in new product development, regulatory expertise, manufacturing capabilities and the distribution channels to deliver products to customers. If we are not able to continually design, manufacture, and successfully introduce new or enhanced products or services that are comparable or superior to those provided by our competitors and at comparable or better prices, we could experience pricing pressures and reduced sales, gross profit margins, profits, and market share, each of which could have a materially adverse effect on our business.

 

Difficulties in estimating customer demand in our products segment could harm our profit margins.

 

Orders from our distributors and other distribution participants are based on demand from end-users. Prospective end-user demand is difficult to measure. This means that our revenue during any fiscal quarter could be adversely impacted by low end-user demand, which could in turn negatively affect orders we receive from distributors and dealers. Our expectations for both short and long-term future net revenues are based on our own estimates of future demand. Revenue for any particular time period is difficult to predict with any degree of certainty. We typically ship products within a short time after we receive an order; consequently, unshipped backlog has not historically been a good indicator of future revenue. We believe that the level of backlog is dependent in part on our ability to forecast revenue mix and plan our manufacturing accordingly. A significant portion of our customers’ orders are received during the last month of the quarter. We budget the amount of our expenses based on our revenue estimates. If our estimates of sales are not accurate and we experience unforeseen variability in our revenue and operating results, we may be unable to adjust our expense levels accordingly and our gross profit and results of operations will be adversely affected. Higher inventory levels or stock shortages may also result from difficulties in estimating customer demand.

 

If we are unable to protect our intellectual property rights or have insufficient proprietary rights, our business would be materially impaired.

 

We currently rely primarily on a combination of trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, patents, patents pending, and nondisclosure agreements to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products. Our success is dependent in part on obtaining, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights. If we are unable to obtain, maintain and enforce intellectual property legal protection covering our products, then no assurances can be given that others will not independently develop technologies similar to ours, or duplicate or design around aspects of our technology. In addition, we cannot assure that any patent or registered trademark owned by us will not be invalidated, circumvented or challenged, or that the rights granted thereunder will provide competitive advantages to us. Costly litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights. We believe our products and other proprietary rights do not infringe upon any proprietary rights of third parties; however, we cannot ensure that third parties will not assert infringement claims in the future. We currently hold only a limited number of patents. To the extent that we have patentable technology that is material to our business and for which we have not filed patent applications, others may be able to use such technology or even gain priority over us by patenting such technology themselves, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. With respect to any patent application we have filed, we cannot ensure that a patent will be awarded.


ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS 


We are currently subject to patent litigation, including claims challenging the validity and enforceability of some of our patents, which could cause us to incur significant expenses or prevent us from protecting our products or services against competing products.


Our industry is characterized by vigorous protection of intellectual property rights. We have initiated litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, which has resulted in our adversaries in such litigation challenging the validity, scope, and/or enforceability of our intellectual property. Irrespective of the merits of these claims, any resulting litigation could be costly and time consuming and could divert the attention of management and key personnel from other business issues. The complexity of the technology involved and the uncertainty of intellectual property litigation increase these risks. See Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings and Note 8 – Commitments and Contingencies of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements (Part II, Item 8) for information regarding current legal proceedings involving our intellectual property rights.


Our sales depend to a certain extent on government funding and regulation.


In the audio conferencing products market, the revenue generated from sales of our audio conferencing products for distance learning and courtroom facilities depends on government funding. In the event government funding for such initiatives was reduced or became unavailable, our sales could be negatively impacted. Additionally, many of our products are subject to governmental regulations. New regulations could impact sales in a materially adverse manner.


Environmental laws and regulations subject us to a number of risks and could result in significant costs and impact on revenue. 

Regulations regarding the materials used in manufacturing, the process of disposing of electronic equipment and the efficient use of energy require us to take additional time to obtain regulatory approvals of new products in international markets. Such regulations may impact our ability to expand our sales in a timely and cost-effective manner and, as a result, our business could be harmed.


A material weakness was identified in our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, we may be unable to report our financial results accurately on a timely basis, investors could lose confidence in our reported financial information, the trading price of our common shares could decline and our access to the capital markets or other financing sources could become limited.


In connection with the audit of our consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2017, our independent registered public accounting firm identified deficiencies in our system of internal control over financial reporting that it considered to be a material weakness related to the accurate and timely reporting of our financial results and disclosures for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 and our testing and assessment of the design and operating effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting in a timely manner. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's Auditing Standard No. 5 defines a material weakness as a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.  See Part II, Item 9A, “Controls and Procedures.”


We initiated remedial measures and conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 based on the framework set forth in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013 framework) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission, and concluded that remediation of the material weakness identified during the 2017 audit has been completed.


We conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for years 2020 and 2021 based on the framework set forth in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013 framework) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission, concluding that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2021, respectively.


However, there can be no assurance that these actions, as well as further actions we may take, will allow us to prevent any material weakness in the future and provide a solid foundation to meet our reporting obligations under the Exchange Act. If we fail to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, or if additional material weaknesses or any significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting are discovered or occur in the future, our consolidated financial statements may contain material misstatements, and we could be required to restate our financial results. In addition, if we are unable to successfully remediate future material weakness and if we are unable to produce accurate and timely financial statements, our stock price may be materially adversely affected and we may be unable to maintain compliance with applicable stock exchange listing requirements.


ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS


We have identified two significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting, and if we fail to maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting, the price of our common stock may be adversely affected.


We are required to establish and maintain appropriate internal controls over financial reporting. Failure to establish those controls, or any failure of those controls once established, could adversely impact our public disclosures regarding our business, financial condition or results of operations. Any failure of these controls could also prevent us from maintaining accurate accounting records and discovering accounting errors and financial fraud.

In the course of completing its assessment of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2021, management did not identify any material weaknesses but did identify the continued existence of two significant deficiencies in the lack of end user segregation in our accounting system and a failure to perform user access audits for certain system applications. Specifically, management believes that we may not be able to adequately segregate responsibility over financial transaction processing and reporting. A significant deficiency is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, that is less severe than a material weakness yet important enough to merit attention by those responsible for oversight of the Company’s financial reporting. Although we are unable to remediate the end user segregation significant deficiency with current personnel, we are mitigating its potential impact, primarily through a review of all employee’s access rights in our accounting system.

In addition, management’s assessment of internal controls over financial reporting may identify additional weaknesses and conditions that need to be addressed or other potential matters that may raise concerns for investors. Any actual or perceived weaknesses and conditions that need to be addressed in our internal control over financial reporting or disclosure of management’s assessment of our internal controls over financial reporting may have an adverse impact on the price of our common stock.

Our profitability may be adversely affected by our continuing dependence on our distribution channels.


We market our products primarily through a network of distributors who in turn sell our products to value-added resellers. All of our agreements with such distributors and other distribution participants are non-exclusive, terminable at will by both parties, and generally short-term. No assurances can be given that any or all such distributors or other distribution participants will continue their relationship with us. Distributors and, to a lesser extent, value-added resellers cannot easily be replaced and any loss of revenues from these and other sources or our inability to reduce expenses to compensate for such loss of revenue could adversely affect our net revenue and profit margins.


Although we rely on our distribution channels to sell our products, our distributors and other distribution participants are not obligated to devote any specified amount of time, resources, or efforts to the marketing of our products, or to sell a specified number of our products. There are no prohibitions on distributors or other resellers offering products that are competitive with our products, and some do offer competitive products. The support of our products by distributors and other distribution participants may depend on the competitive strength of our products and the price incentives we offer for their support. If our distributors and other distribution participants are not committed to our products, our revenue and profit margins may be adversely affected.


Additionally, we offer our distributors price protection on their inventory of our products. If we reduce the list price of our products, we will compensate our distributors for the respective products that remain in their inventory on the date the price adjustment becomes effective, provided that they have been providing inventory reports consistently and the inventory was bought within the six months preceding the price adjustment date. Our net revenue and profit margins could be adversely affected if we reduce product prices significantly or distributors happen to have significant on-hand inventory of the affected product at the time of a price reduction. Further, if we do not have sufficient cash resources to compensate distributors on terms satisfactory to them or us, our price protection obligations may prevent us from reacting quickly to changing market conditions.


We are substantially dependent on our sales force to effectively execute our sales, pricing and business strategies.


We believe that there is significant competition for skilled sales personnel with technical knowledge. Our ability to grow our business depends on our success in recruiting, training, and retaining sales personnel to support our sales. We periodically adjust our sales organization and our compensation programs to optimize our sales operations, to increase revenue, and to support our business model. If we have not structured our sales organization or compensation for our sales personnel in a way that properly supports our business objectives, or if we fail to make changes in a timely fashion or do not effectively manage changes, our performance and results of operations could be adversely affected.


Product development delays or defects could harm our competitive position and reduce our revenue.


We have in the past experienced, and may again experience, technical difficulties and delays with the development and introduction of new products. Many of the products we develop contain sophisticated and complicated circuitry, software and components and utilize manufacturing techniques involving new technologies. Potential difficulties in the development process that we may experience include the following: (a) meeting required specifications and regulatory standards; (b) hiring and keeping a sufficient number of skilled developers; (c) meeting market expectations for performance; (d) obtaining prototype products at anticipated cost levels; (e) having the ability to identify problems or product defects in the development cycle; and (f) achieving necessary manufacturing efficiencies.


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The success of our new product introductions depends on a number of factors, including proper new product definition, product cost, infrastructure for services and cloud delivery, timely completion and introduction of new products, proper positioning and pricing of new products in relation to our total product portfolio and their relative pricing, differentiation of new products from those of our competitors and other products in our own portfolio, market acceptance of these products and the ability to sell our products. Once new products reach the market, they may have defects, or may be met by unanticipated new competitive products, which could adversely affect market acceptance of these products and our reputation. Other factors that may affect our success include properly addressing the complexities associated with compatibility issues, channel partner and sales strategies, sales force integration and training, technical and sales support, and field support. As a result, it is possible that investments that we are making in developing new products and technologies may not yield the planned financial results. If we are not able to manage and minimize such potential difficulties, our business and results of operations could be negatively affected.


We depend on an outsourced manufacturing strategy, and we may face increased risks and costs associated with volatility in commodity and labor prices or as a result of supply chain or procurement disruptions, which could negatively impact our product availability and revenues.


We outsource the manufacturing of all of our products to electronics manufacturing services (“EMS”) providers located outside the U.S. If any of these EMS providers experience (i) difficulties in obtaining sufficient supplies of components, (ii) difficulties in obtaining adequate skilled labor, (iii) component prices significantly exceeding anticipated costs, (iv) an interruption in their operations, or (v) otherwise suffers capacity constraints, we could experience a delay in production and shipping of these products, which would have a negative impact on our revenue. Should there be any disruption in services due to natural disaster, economic or political difficulties, transportation restrictions, acts of terror, quarantines or other restrictions associated with infectious diseases, or other similar events, or any other reason, such disruption could have a material adverse effect on our business. Operating in the international outsourcing environment exposes us to certain inherent risks, including unexpected changes in regulatory requirements and tariffs, and potentially adverse tax consequences, which could materially affect our results of operations. Currently, we have no second source of manufacturing for a large portion of our products.


Switching from one EMS provider to another is an expensive, difficult and a time-consuming process, with serious risks to our ability to successfully transfer our manufacturing operations. Our operations, and consequently our revenues and profitability, could be materially adversely affected if we are forced to switch from any of our EMS providers to another EMS provider due to any of a number of factors, including financial difficulties faced by the manufacturer, disagreements in pricing negotiations between us and the manufacturer or organizational changes in the manufacturer. If our EMS providers experience disruptions in their operations, it is uncertain whether we would be able to source the essential commodities, supplies, materials, and skilled labor timely or at all without incurring significant costs or delays, particularly during times of economic uncertainty resulting from events outside of our control, including, but not limited to, effects of COVID-19. We may be forced to purchase supplies and materials in larger quantities or in advance of when we would typically purchase them. This may cause us to require use of capital sooner than anticipated. Alternatively, we may also be forced to seek new third-party suppliers or contractors, whom we have not worked with in the past, and it is uncertain whether these new suppliers will be able to adequately meet our materials or labor needs. In addition, we may be unable to compete with entities that may have more favorable relationships with their suppliers and contractors or greater access to the required raw materials and skilled labor.


The cost of delivered product from our EMS providers is a direct function of their ability to buy components at a competitive price and to realize efficiencies and economies of scale within their overall business structures. Recent news reports have noted that currently there is a worldwide shortage of semiconductor, memory and other electronic components affecting many industries, from automotive to technology providers. This shortage has impacted our EMS providers significantly. If our EMS providers are unsuccessful in obtaining component parts at efficient costs or at all, our delivered costs could rise or we may not be able to fulfill orders on time or at all, affecting our gross margins, profitability and ability to compete. In addition, if the EMS providers are unable to achieve greater operational efficiencies, delivery schedules for new product development and current product delivery could be negatively impacted.

 

EMS providers often require long range forecasts to help them plan their operations as well as to allocate their resources. We are tied to these forecasts through contracts as well as to maintain harmony in business relationships. Our ability to react to actual demand from our customers and order optimum levels of inventory is severely limited due to these forecasts provided to the EMS providers. Our inability to accurately forecast our future demands could lead to either excess inventory causing potential inventory obsolescence and cashflow problems or shortage in inventory causing potential loss of revenue.

 

Additionally, the sourcing and availability of raw materials necessary for our EMS providers to manufacture certain of our products, including "conflict minerals" has been and could continue to be significantly constrained, which is likely to result in continued elevated price levels. Furthermore, compliance with SEC disclosure and reporting requirements in the future regarding the use of "conflict minerals" mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries could adversely affect the sourcing, supply and pricing of materials used in our products. As a result, we may not be able to obtain the materials necessary to manufacture our products, which could force us to cease production or search for alternative supply sources, possibly at a higher cost. Such disruptions may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

 

ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS

COVID-19 has caused and may continue to cause unanticipated fluctuations in our gross margins, which can result in unanticipated fluctuations in our operating results.

 

Our gross margins can vary due to customer demand, competition, product pricing, product lifecycle, product mix, new product introductions, unit volumes, acquisitions and divestitures, commodity, supply chain and logistics costs, capacity utilization, geographic sales mix, currency exchange rates, trade policy and tariffs, and the complexity and functionality of new product innovations and other factors. If we are not able to introduce new products in a timely manner at the product cost we expect, or if customer demand for our products is less than we anticipate, or if there are product pricing, marketing and other initiatives by our competitors to which we need to react or that are initiated by us to drive sales that lower our margins, then our overall gross margin will be less than we project.


Moreover, growth in the hybrid work environment is likely to create greater pressures on us and our suppliers to accurately project overall and specific product categories of component and product demand and to establish optimal levels and manufacturing capacity. If we are unable to secure enough components and/or finished products at reasonable prices or of acceptable quality to build new products in a timely manner in the quantities or configurations needed, our revenue and gross margins could suffer until other sources can be developed.

 

In addition, our gross margins vary significantly by product line, sales geography and customer type, as well as within product lines. When the mix of products sold shifts from higher margin product lines to lower margin product lines, to lower margin sales geographies, or to lower margin products within product lines, our overall gross margins and our profitability may be adversely affected.

 

Moreover, as we expand within and into new product categories, our products in those categories may have lower gross margins than in our traditional product categories. If we are unable to offset these potentially lower margins by enhancing the margins in our more traditional product categories, our profitability may be adversely affected.

 

As our global manufacturing partners and a significant number of distributors are located outside of the United States, we rely upon logistics providers to transport goods around the world. As supply chains have become more constrained, the need to expedite shipments to manufacturing facilities and customers has increased. Further, we continue to experience higher transportation and fuel costs which has resulted in decreased margins and may result in the future in increased inventory and further margin decline, which would adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Changes in trade policy, including tariffs and the tariffs focused on China in particular, and currency exchange rates also have adverse impacts on our gross margins. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting pressure on our gross margins as well as causing us to face uncertain product demand and incur increased air freight and other costs to fulfill sell through demand, replenish channel inventory, and maintain market share.

 

The impact of these factors on gross margins can create unanticipated fluctuations in our operating results, which may cause volatility in the price of our stock.


Global economic conditions have adversely affected our business in the past and could adversely affect our revenues and harm our business in the future.

 

Adverse economic conditions worldwide have contributed to slowdowns in the communications industry and have caused a negative impact on the specific segments and markets in which we operate. Adverse changes in general global economic conditions can result in reductions in capital expenditures by end-user customers for our products, longer sales cycles, the deferral or delay of purchase commitments for our products and increased competition. These factors have adversely impacted our operating results in prior periods and could also impact us again in the future. Global economic concerns, such as the varying pace of global economic recovery, European and domestic debt and budget issues, the slowdown in economic growth in large emerging markets such as China and India, and international currency fluctuations, may continue to create uncertainty and unpredictability in the global and national economy. A global economic downturn would negatively impact technology spending for our products and services and could materially adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Further, global economic conditions may result in a tightening in the credit markets, low liquidity levels in many financial markets, decrease in customer demand and ability to pay obligations, and extreme volatility in credit, equity, foreign currency and fixed income markets.


Such adverse economic conditions could negatively impact our business, particularly our revenue potential, potentially causing losses on investments and the collectability of our accounts receivable. These factors potentially include: the inability of our customers to obtain credit to finance purchases of our products and services, customer or partner insolvencies or bankruptcies, decreased customer confidence to make purchasing decisions resulting in delays in their purchasing decisions, decreased customer demand or demand for lower-end products, or decreased customer ability to pay their obligations when they become due to us.



We are a smaller Company than some of our competitors and may be more susceptible to market fluctuations, other adverse events, increased costs and less favorable purchasing terms. 


Since we are a relatively small Company, there is a risk that we may be more susceptible to market fluctuations and other adverse events. In particular, we may be more susceptible to reductions in government and corporate spending from our government and enterprise customers. We may also experience increased costs and less favorable terms from our suppliers than some of our larger competitors who may have greater leverage in their purchasing spend. Any of these outcomes could result in loss of sales or our products being more costly to manufacture and thus less competitive. Any such unfavorable market fluctuations, reductions in customer spending or increased manufacturing costs could have a negative impact on our business and results of operations.


Difficulties in integrating future acquisitions could adversely affect our business.


Any acquisition involves numerous risks and challenges, including difficulties and time involved in integrating the operations, technologies and products of the acquired companies, entering new business or product lines, the diversion of our management’s attention from other business concerns, geographic dispersion of operations, generating market demand for expanded product lines and the potential loss of key customers or employees of an acquired Company. Failure to achieve the anticipated benefits of any future acquisitions or to successfully integrate the operations of these or any other companies or assets we acquire, could also harm our business, results of operations and cash flows. Additionally, we cannot assure you that we will not incur material charges in future periods to reflect additional costs associated with any future acquisitions we may make.


Profitability could be negatively impacted if we do not adequately forecast the demand for our products and are unable to monetize our long-term inventories.


We hold approximately $3.6 million in long-term inventories. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully anticipate changing consumer preferences and product trends or economic conditions and, as a result, we may not successfully monetize our long-term inventory. Inventory levels in excess of consumer demand may result in inventory write-downs and the sale of excess inventory at discounted prices, which could have an adverse effect on the image and reputation of our brands and negatively impact profitability.


Conditions in China, India, Russia, Spain, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam may affect our operations.

We have different teams working outside the U.S. in China, India, Russia, Spain, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam offering various services. Our ability to operate the Company smoothly may be affected significantly if either one or more of these countries are adversely impacted by political, economic, security and military conditions in these countries.


Product obsolescence could harm demand for our products and could adversely affect our revenue and our results of operations.


Our industry is subject to technological innovations that could render existing technologies in our products obsolete and thereby decrease market demand for such products. If any of our products becomes slow-moving or obsolete and the recorded value of our inventory is greater than its market value, we will be required to write down the value of our inventory to its fair market value, which would adversely affect our results of operations. In limited circumstances, we are required to purchase components that our outsourced manufacturers use to produce and assemble our products. Should technological innovations render these components obsolete, we will be required to write down the value of this inventory, which could adversely affect our results of operations.


International sales account for a significant portion of our net revenue and risks inherent in international sales could harm our business.


International sales represent a significant portion of our total product revenue. We anticipate that the portion of our total product revenue from international sales will continue to increase as we further enhance our focus on developing new products for new markets, establishing new distribution partners, strengthening our presence in emerging economies, and improving product localization with country-specific product documentation and marketing materials. Our international business is subject to the financial and operating risks of conducting business internationally, including the following:


ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS


unexpected changes in, or the imposition of, additional legislative or regulatory requirements;

unique or more onerous environmental regulations;

fluctuating exchange rates;

tariffs and other barriers;

difficulties in staffing and managing foreign sales operations;

import and export restrictions;

greater difficulties in accounts receivable collection and longer payment cycles;

potentially adverse tax consequences;

potential hostilities and changes in diplomatic and trade relationships; and

disruption in services due to natural disaster, economic or political difficulties, transportation, quarantines or other restrictions associated with infectious diseases.

 

We may not be able to hire and retain qualified key and highly-skilled technical employees, which could affect our ability to compete effectively and may cause our revenue and profitability to decline.


We depend on our ability to hire and retain qualified key and highly skilled employees to manage, research and develop, market, and service new and existing products. Competition for such key and highly-skilled employees is intense, and we may not be successful in attracting or retaining such personnel. To succeed, we must hire and retain employees who are highly skilled in the rapidly changing communications and Internet technologies. Individuals who have the skills and can perform the services we need to provide our products and services are in great demand. Because the competition for qualified employees in our industry is intense, hiring and retaining employees with the skills we need is both time-consuming and expensive. We may not be able to hire enough skilled employees or retain the employees we do hire. In addition, provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and related rules of the SEC impose heightened personal liability on some of our key employees. The threat of such liability could make it more difficult to identify, hire and retain qualified key and highly-skilled employees.


We have relied on our ability to grant stock options as a means of recruiting and retaining key employees. Accounting regulations requiring the expensing of stock options will impair our future ability to provide these incentives without incurring associated compensation costs. If we are unable to hire and retain employees with the skills we seek, our ability to sell our existing products, systems, or services or to develop new products, systems, or services could be hindered with a consequent adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial position, or liquidity. In addition, given the current political climate regarding the U.S. immigration laws, we may not be able attract highly-skilled technical employees from abroad.

 

We are dependent on our key personnel whose continued service is not guaranteed.


We are dependent upon key personnel for the execution of our business strategies, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, neither of whom is subject to an employment agreement with us and we do not have key man life insurance for any of our executive officers. Accordingly, the loss of services of our executive officers could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.


We rely on third-party technology and license agreements, the loss of any of which could negatively impact our business.


We have licensing agreements with various suppliers for software and hardware incorporated into our products. These third-party licenses may not continue to be available to us on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. The termination or impairment of these licenses could result in delays of current product shipments or delays or reductions in new product introductions until equivalent designs can be developed, licensed, and integrated, if at all possible, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.


We may have difficulty in collecting outstanding receivables.


We grant credit to substantially all of our customers without requiring collateral. In times of economic uncertainty, the risks relating to the granting of such credit will typically increase. Although we monitor and mitigate the risks associated with our credit policies, we cannot ensure that such mitigation will be effective. We have experienced losses due to customers failing to meet their obligations. Future losses could be significant and, if incurred, could harm our business and have a material adverse effect on our operating results and financial position.


Interruptions to our business could adversely affect our operations.


As with any Company, our operations are at risk of being interrupted by earthquake, fire, flood, and other natural and human-caused disasters, including disease and terrorist attacks. Our operations are also at risk of power loss, telecommunications failure, human error, physical or electronic security breaches and computer viruses (which could leave us vulnerable to the loss of confidential proprietary information as well as disruption of our business activities) and other infrastructure and technology-based problems. To help guard against such risks, we carry business interruption loss insurance to help compensate us for losses that may occur, but we cannot assure that such coverage would protect us from all such possible losses.


ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS


Security breaches and other disruptions could compromise our information and expose us to liability, which would cause our business and reputation to suffer.


In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store sensitive data, including intellectual property, our proprietary business information and that of our employees, customers, licensors, vendors and business partners, including personally identifiable information of our customers and employees, in our data centers and on our networks. Despite our security measures, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or breached due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions. Security breaches have occurred with increased frequency and sophistication in recent years. Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, disrupt our operations, and damage our reputation, which could adversely affect our business.


We may require additional financing to fund future operations, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all.

As of December 31, 2021, we had approximately $1.1 million of cash and cash equivalents. Although we anticipate having sufficient cash on hand, cash from future operations and cash from the sale of marketable securities to fund our operations for the next twelve months, there can be no assurance that efforts to enforce our patents will be successful or that our marketing and sales efforts will progress as anticipated or that our cash generated from operations will be as expected, and we may need additional debt or equity financing in the next twelve months to execute our business plan and to be able to continue as a going concern. If in the future, we fail to satisfy the continued listing standards of Nasdaq, we may not be able to sell shares of our common stock. Accordingly, if additional debt or equity financings are needed, market conditions may limit our ability to raise capital on favorable terms, or at all, and the terms of any public or private offerings of debt or equity securities likely would be significantly dilutive to existing shareholders.

Risks Relating to Share Ownership

Our common stock trades at prices less than $1.00 which is the minimum bid price requirement under Nasdaq’s continued listing standards, as such our common stock may be subject to delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market.


On March 22, 2022, we received a letter (the “Notice”) from the Listing Qualifications Department (the “Staff”) of the Nasdaq Stock Market (“Nasdaq”) informing us that because the closing bid price for the Company’s common stock listed on Nasdaq was below $1.00 for 30 consecutive trading days, we are not in compliance with the minimum bid price requirement for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market, as set forth in Nasdaq Marketplace Rule 5550(a)(2) (the “Minimum Bid Price Requirement”). The last reported closing price of our common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market on March 30, 2022 was $0.89 per share and has been below the $1.00 closing bid price since February 7, 2022. In accordance with Nasdaq Marketplace Rule 5810(c)(3)(A), we have a period of 180 calendar days from March 22, 2022, or until September 19, 2022, to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. If at any time before September 19, 2022, the closing bid price of our common stock closes at or above $1.00 per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days (which number days may be extended by Nasdaq), Nasdaq will provide written notification that we have achieved compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, and the matter would be resolved. If compliance is not achieved within the 180-day period, Nasdaq would provide written notification to us that our common stock is subject to delisting. In the event that we fail to regain compliance with Nasdaq continued listing standards by the expiration of the applicable cure period or any extension period, Nasdaq will commence suspension and delisting procedures with respect to our common stock, which could impair the value of your investment.


If our common stock is delisted from Nasdaq Capital Market in the future, such securities may be traded on the over-the-counter markets. Such alternative markets, however, are generally considered to be less efficient than, and not as broad as, Nasdaq. Accordingly, delisting of our common stock from Nasdaq could have a significant negative effect on the trading volume, liquidity and market price of our common stock. In addition, the delisting of our common stock could adversely affect our ability to raise capital on terms acceptable to us or at all and could reduce the number of investors willing to hold or acquire our common stock.


As a result of Edward D. Bagley’s significant share ownership position in the Company, he is able to influence corporate matters.


Based solely on filings by Edward D. Bagley under Regulation 13D and Section 16 of the Exchange Act, Mr. Bagley beneficially owns approximately 45.5% of our issued and outstanding shares of common stock. Pursuant to the Note Purchase Agreement, dated December 8, 2019, by and between Mr. Bagley and the Company, Mr. Bagley has a security interest in substantially all of the assets of the Company as well as certain observer rights with respect to meetings of our board of directors, and the Company is restricted from issuing shares of common stock at a purchase price less than $2.11 per share except in certain limited, extraordinary transactions. In addition, Mr. Bagley’s daughter, Lisa Higley, is a member of our board of directors. Based on Mr. Bagley’s significant share ownership, as well as his security interests in substantially all of our assets, Mr. Bagley will be able to significantly influence who serves on our board of directors and the outcome of matters required to be submitted to our stockholders for approval, including, without limitation, decisions relating to the outcome of any proposed merger or consolidation of our company and Mr. Bagley’s significant interest in us may discourage third parties from seeking to acquire control of us, which may adversely affect the market price of our common stock. In addition, based solely on filings by other members of Mr. Bagley’s family and their family trusts under Regulation 13D and Section 16 of the Exchange Act, such family members and their family trusts collectively beneficially own an additional 15.6% of our outstanding shares of common stock, however, Mr. Bagley asserts he does not have control over and disclaims beneficial ownership of such shares. Mr. Bagley’s interests and the interests of his family and their family trusts may not be consistent with those of our other stockholders.



ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS 


Global Financial, Economic and Social Conditions Could Deteriorate.

Our business could be materially affected by conditions in the global financial markets and economic conditions generally.  The recent outbreak of a novel coronavirus, which causes the disease now known as COVID-19, was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally. Government efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus through lockdowns of cities, business closures, restrictions on travel and emergency quarantines, among others, and responses by businesses and individuals to reduce the risk of exposure to infection, including social distancing in the form of reduced travel, cancellation of meetings and public and private events, and implementation of work-at-home policies, among others, have caused significant disruptions to the global economy and normal business operations across a growing list of sectors and countries, including in the United States.  The foregoing have, and are likely to continue to adversely affect business confidence and consumer sentiments, and have been, and may continue to be, accompanied by significant volatility and declines in financial markets and asset values.  The spread of the coronavirus, particularly if its development into a worldwide health crisis worsens, also may have broader macro-economic implications, including reduced levels of economic growth and possibly a global recession, the effects of which could be felt well beyond the time the pandemic is contained, and which could adversely affect demand for our products and our results of operations and financial condition. The impact of COVID-19 on any of our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors or transportation or logistics providers may negatively affect the price and availability of our products and impact our supply chain. If the pandemic continues to evolve into a severe worldwide health crisis, the disease could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows and adversely impact the trading price of our common stock.


Our stock price fluctuates as a result of the conduct of our business and stock market fluctuations. 


The market price of our common stock has experienced significant fluctuations and may continue to fluctuate significantly. The market price of our common stock may be significantly affected by a variety of factors, including the following: 


statements or changes in opinions, ratings, or earnings estimates made by brokerage firms or industry analysts relating to the market in which we do business or relating to us specifically;

disparity between our reported results and the projections of analysts;

the shift in sales mix of products that we currently sell to a sales mix of lower-gross profit product offerings;

the level and mix of inventory held by our distributors;

the announcement of new products or product enhancements by us or our competitors;

technological innovations by us or our competitors;

success in meeting targeted availability dates for new or redesigned products;

the ability to profitably and efficiently manage our supply of products and key components;

the ability to maintain profitable relationships with our customers;

the ability to maintain an appropriate cost structure;

quarterly variations in our results of operations;

general consumer confidence or market conditions, or market conditions specific to technology industry;

domestic and international economic conditions;

unexpected changes in regulatory requirements and tariffs;
our ability to report financial information in a timely manner;
the markets in which our stock is traded;
our ability to integrate the companies we have acquired; and
our ability to successfully utilize our cash reserves resulting from the settlement of litigation and arbitration matters.


Rights to acquire our common stock could result in dilution to other holders of our common stock.


As of December 31, 2021, there were outstanding options to acquire approximately 831,071 shares of our common stock at a weighted average exercise price of $6.47 per share. In addition, as of December 31, 2021 there were outstanding warrants and convertible instruments to acquire approximately 6,273,308 shares at weighted average exercise price of $2.52. During the terms of these options, warrants and convertibles the holders thereof will have the opportunity to profit from an increase in the market price of the common stock. The existence of these derivatives may adversely affect the terms on which we can obtain additional financing, and the holders of these derivatives can be expected to exercise such options at a time when we, in all likelihood, would be able to obtain additional capital by offering shares of our common stock on terms more favorable to us than those provided by the exercise of these derivatives.  



ITEM 1A - RISK FACTORS


The sale of additional shares of our common stock could have a negative effect on the market price of our common stock.


The sale of substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, such as the Rights Offering that we completed in December 2018, Notes and Warrants that we issued in December 2019, and Common Stock and Warrants that we issued in 2020 and 2021 could adversely affect prevailing market prices and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of our equity securities. Most shares of common stock currently outstanding are eligible for sale in the public market, subject in certain cases to compliance with the requirements of Rule 144 under the securities laws. Shares issued upon the exercise of stock options granted under our stock option plan generally will be eligible for sale in the public market. We also have the authority to issue additional shares of common stock and shares of one or more series of preferred stock. The issuance of such shares could dilute the voting power of the currently outstanding shares of our common stock and could dilute earnings per share.


Because we do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock, stockholders will benefit from an investment in our stock only if it appreciates in value.


We currently intend to retain all future earnings, if any, for use in the operations and expansion of the business. As a result, we do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination as to the declaration and payment of cash dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on factors the board of directors deems relevant, including among others, our results of operations, financial condition and cash requirements, business prospects, and the terms of our secured convertible notes and other financing arrangements. Accordingly, realization of a gain on stockholders’ investments will depend on the appreciation of the price of our stock. There is no guarantee that our stock will appreciate in value.


If equity research analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they issue unfavorable commentary or downgrade our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline.

 

The liquidity of the trading market for our common stock may be affected in part by the research and reports that equity research analysts publish about us and our business. We do not control the opinions of these analysts. The price of our stock could decline if one or more equity analysts downgrade our stock or if those analysts issue other unfavorable commentary or cease publishing reports about us or our business.

 

Write off of capitalized legal expenses related to our defense of patents could negatively impact our net income and stockholders' equity.

 

Our intangible assets include capitalized legal expenses net of amortization of $22.6 million related to our defense of patents from infringement by our competitors. Legal expenses have been capitalized upon satisfaction of two conditions: (a) a determination being made that a successful defense of this litigation is probable, and (b) that the monetary benefits arising out of such successful defense will be in excess of the costs for the defense. If either one of these conditions fail to be satisfied in the future, the carrying amount in the books may have to be written off either completely or partially. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in the defense of these litigation claims, in whole or in part.


Our certification of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain actions or proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could discourage claims or limit stockholders’ ability to make a claim against the Company, our directors, officers, and employees.

 

Our certificate of incorporation states that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware shall be the sole and exclusive forum for any stockholder to bring (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, (ii) any action asserting a claim for breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer, employee or agent of the Company to the Company or the Company's stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation or our bylaws or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to the Delaware Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein.

 

These exclusive forum provisions do not apply to claims under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. The exclusive forum provision may discourage claims or limit stockholders’ ability to submit claims in a judicial forum that they find favorable and may create additional costs as a result. If a court were to determine the exclusive forum provision to be inapplicable and unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs in conjunction with our efforts to resolve the dispute in an alternative jurisdiction, which could have a negative impact on our results of operations.



 

Not applicable.

 

 

We occupy a 1,350 square-foot facility in Gainesville, Florida under the terms of an operating lease expiring in February 2023. The Gainesville facility is used primarily to support our research and development activities. 

 

We occupy a 21,443 square-foot facility in Salt Lake City, Utah under the terms of an operating lease expiring in March 2024, with an option to extend for additional five years. The facility supports our principal administrative, sales, marketing, customer support, and research and product development activities.  

 

We occupy a 950 square-foot facility in Austin, Texas under the terms of an operating lease expiring in October 2022. This facility supports our sales, marketing, customer support, and research and development activities.

 

We occupied a 3,068 square-foot facility in Zaragoza, Spain under the terms of an operating lease that expired in March 2022.  This office supported our research and development and customer support activities.

 

We occupy a 6,175 square-foot facility in Chennai, India under the terms of an operating lease expiring in August 2023. This facility supports our administrative, marketing, customer support, and research and product development activities.

 

We occupy a 40,000 square-foot warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah under the terms of an operating lease expiring in April 2025, which serves as our primary inventory fulfillment center.


We believe our current facilities are adequate to meet our needs for the foreseeable future and that suitable additional or alternative space will be available in the future on commercially reasonable terms as needed.

 

 

See Note 8 – Commitments and Contingencies-Legal Proceedings of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements (Part II, Item 8) for information regarding legal proceedings in which we are involved, which is incorporated in this Item 3 by reference.

 

 

Not Applicable. 



 

 

Market Information

 

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol CLRO. On March 30, 2022, there were 22,410,126  shares of our common stock issued and outstanding held by approximately 300 shareholders of record. Each broker dealer or a clearing corporation that holds shares for customers is counted as a single shareholder of record.

 

Dividends

 

The Company paid a cash dividend of $0.07 per share of ClearOne common stock in the first quarter of 2018. As part of the focus on preserving cash in connection with our litigation to defend our strategic patents from infringement, on June 13, 2018, the Company announced the suspension of its dividend program until such time as the Company deems it appropriate to once again declare dividends.

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

None.

 

Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

None.

 

Equity Compensation Plan Information.

 

Information about the Company’s equity compensation plans required by Item 201(d) of Regulation S-K is set forth under Part III, Item 12 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.



 



 

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this report, as well as our other filings with the SEC. This discussion contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties, such as our plans, objectives, expectations, and intentions, as set forth under “Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” Our actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth in the following discussion and under the caption “Risk Factors” in Item 1A and elsewhere in this report.

 

OVERVIEW

 

ClearOne is a global Company that designs, develops and sells conferencing, collaboration, and AV networking solutions for voice and visual communications. The performance and simplicity of our advanced, comprehensive solutions offer a high level of functionality, reliability and scalability. 

 

We derive a major portion of our revenue from audio conferencing products and microphones by promoting our products in the professional audio-visual channel. We have extended our total addressable market from the installed audio conferencing market to adjacent complementary markets – microphones, video collaboration and AV networking. We have achieved this through strategic technological acquisitions as well as by internal product development.

 

During the first quarter of 2021, we announced two new powerful cameras that enhance the ease and visual quality of online collaboration beyond the capabilities of integrated laptop and PC cameras. With the new ClearOne UNITE® 10, the Company’s most affordable camera ever, and the feature-rich ClearOne UNITE 50 4K AF that includes Auto-Framing technology for automatic single- or multi-person capture, everyone can take on the new year with the confidence provided by stunning video that puts them in the best possible light. We recognized that millions of people were expected to use video collaboration tools, for the first time, and the rapid societal shift to home-based and remote work left a lot of people desiring higher quality video solutions to ensure they make a good impression and enjoy reliable, clear and efficient communication. For users who want to upgrade from the basic camera included in their laptop or PC, ClearOne has lowered the barrier of entry with its most affordable webcam ever, the UNITE 10. The small, powerful webcam supports up to 1080p video quality and offers autofocus. The UNITE 10 can capture five-megapixel images with a field of view up to 87 degrees, while major competitors at this price point only achieve 78-degree field of view. The UNITE 10 attaches to any PC or laptop with a simple mounting bracket, and a 1.5m USB-A cable ensures simple connection to most modern computers. The UNITE 10 is also available to dealers and distributors in 20 packs for commercial sale. The new UNITE 50 4K AF camera is a major upgrade over traditional webcams and introduces ClearOne’s new Auto-Framing technology that automatically frames meeting participants to maximize screen use through intelligent image algorithms and ePTZ automation (electronic pan, tilt and zoom). With 4K video quality at 30 Hz, auto-focus capability, 4x digital zoom, more than 8 megapixels of total resolution and an ultra-wide 110-degree field of view, the UNITE 50 4K AF ePTZ is equally capable of delivering incredible image quality from a home office as it is at capturing all participants in an office boardroom. The camera can be controlled through an IR remote, further simplifying use and enabling real-time control of pan, tilt and zoom to provide greater control when capturing multi-person meeting environments. A standard damping mount ensures fast, easy installation, while an included USB 3.0 cable provides both power and video. Both new ClearOne cameras enable life-like video quality to web-based conferencing applications including ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space, WebEx™, Google Meet, Zoom™, GoToMeeting™, and Microsoft® Teams.


 MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS


During February 2021, we expanded the applications for our BMA 360, Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile with the addition of a new Voice Lift feature that allows its impeccable audio to be locally amplified and heard throughout classrooms, lecture halls, and large meeting rooms. ClearOne’s powerful breakthrough technologies, FiBeam™ and DsBeam™, already found on the BMA 360, enable exceptional new levels of Voice Lift performance. FiBeam technology makes the BMA 360 the world’s first truly wideband, frequency-invariant beamforming mic array that provides the ultimate in natural and full-fidelity sound. DsBeam provides unparalleled sidelobe depth below -40 dB, resulting in superior rejection of reverb and noise and providing superb clarity and intelligibility. With the addition of the new Voice Lift feature, the BMA 360 offers everything desired in a beamforming microphone array ceiling tile—superior beamformed audio, echo cancellation, noise cancellation, auto-mixing, power amplifiers, and camera-tracking functions. The ClearOne architecture offers easy setup and configuration for foolproof installation which benefits AV practitioners. End-users also benefit from the BMA 360’s reduced overall system cost for maximum return on investment. Each BMA 360 can have up to four Voice Lift zones to provide a simple and intuitive way to drive multiple speaker groups, allowing everyone to easily hear and be heard. Built-in 4 channel power amplifiers make wiring simple, convenient, and provide a large cost savings. ClearOne’s innovative combination of built-in power amplifiers and mix-minus zones makes the Voice Lift feature extremely simple to create and deploy. The BMA 360, now with Voice Lift, sets another industry standard for exceptional mic pickup distance and system gain.


During May 2021, we announced the immediate availability of CONVERGENCE AV Cloud, which significantly expands AV Practitioner recurring revenue opportunities for remote, real-time Management as a Service (MaaS). CONVERGENCE Cloud software is a unified AV network management platform to monitor, control, and audit ClearOne Pro Audio and Video products and services. Remote real-time system access provides at-a-glance and all-inclusive dashboard views with auto-discovery of Pro Audio devices and unlimited scalability designed to support organizations of any size. With the new Cloud option, AV Practitioners can profit on value-added MaaS opportunities to easily support multiple clients and multiple networks with fully secure, real-time remote system access on a single multi-tenant platform. The powerful and elegant user interface, in twelve languages, works on any browser and will allow full support of the AV Network with built-in video, audio, and chat tools for real-time communications as well as email and immediate SMS text alerts. Relevant information is quickly found with search, sort, and filter options. CONVERGENCE AV Cloud can be virtually partitioned for AV management by location such as building, floor, room, or any desired global topology. Practitioners can easily manage accounts, assigning three levels of access with Owner, Administrator, and Monitor roles; all housed on encrypted secure cloud servers. Client tenant usage can be conveniently tracked for invoicing and optional auto-payment reminders.

 

During July 2021 we introduced UNITE 180 ePTZ professional camera that provides a full 180-degree panoramic field-of-view with “real-time stitching” to achieve a variety of useful viewing modes for any application and environment. Designed for professional-quality visual collaboration, conferencing, UC applications, distance learning, and more, the new UNITE 180 camera provides six viewing mode options as well as panoramic view for the ultimate in camera flexibility. Real-time stitching creates a seamless 180-degree panoramic view of wide spaces by bringing the views of multiple lenses together as one complete image. Large classroom settings, training centers, or any wide conferencing area are all captured and presented with perfect clarity in any of the viewing mode options. A 4x zoom further enhances the UNITE 180 feature set. The UNITE 180 is compatible with all popular cloud-based video collaboration applications including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, ClearOne’s COLLABORATE Space and others.


During July 2021 we also announced the market introduction of Versa Mediabar, the Company’s first professional quality all-in-one audio and video capture device that combines the elegance and simplicity of a soundbar with the power of ClearOne’s intelligent audio capture and 4K camera technologies. Versa Mediabar provides high-quality visual collaboration, audio conferencing, and UC applications from a single integrated device, offering the simplest solution available for offices, conference rooms and home offices with virtually no setup required. With a compact design that can be mounted on a wall or attached to a video display, the Versa Mediabar connects via a single USB cable to elevate the soundbar concept into a powerful tool for virtual collaboration that includes AI-enabled auto-framing and people tracking. The Versa All-In-One Mediabar features a built-in 4K Ultra HD camera with a 110-degree ultra wide-angle field of view and a four-element microphone array with 360-degree voice pickup and intelligent DSP that provides acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and automatic noise reduction to ensure crystal clear audio capture. The camera combines electronic pan, tilt and zoom functions (ePTZ) with artificial intelligence to enable auto-framing and people tracking that keeps the speaker in view even if they move around the room. From huddle spaces and small meeting rooms to executive offices and home offices, the compact Versa Mediabar delivers all the power and clarity needed for daily virtual communications. In addition to its professional-quality audio and video capture, the Versa Mediabar also features a powerful built-in speaker with Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to serve double duty as a fully-featured conferencing solution or a Bluetooth speaker for impromptu calls using any Bluetooth device. These attributes make the Versa Mediabar perfect for popular cloud-based collaboration applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, and ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space. The Versa Mediabar supports standard UVC commands for control, making it a great addition to existing systems, while dual wall and display mounting options deliver freedom of placement and movement.


MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS


During September 2021 we announced a new professional-grade camera featuring a 20x optical zoom lens plus a 16x digital zoom for extra distance if needed, the UNITE® 200 Pro. Delivering 1080p quality at 60 frames per second with full pan, tilt and extended zoom functions, the UNITE 200 Pro is optimally suited for use in large spaces where close up, high resolution video capture is desired. The 20x zoom on the new UNITE 200 Pro camera enables close-up HD video capture, making even the largest meeting spaces perfect for remote group collaboration or webinar recording. With the ability to capture 1080p quality video of all meeting room participants, or to focus on a single speaker, the UNITE 200 Pro is designed to impress every conference participant. Whether a meeting is held on ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space platform or on other leading services including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx or GoToMeeting, the camera’s remote-controlled operation combines ease of use with innovative features to offer an unrivaled conferencing experience for large rooms. Presenters and meeting hosts gain an incredible degree of control through the camera’s combined 20x optical zoom and 16x digital zoom, ensuring precise focus on the most important visuals and providing close-up views in even the largest meeting spaces. The UNITE 200 Pro provides flexibility and enhances ease of use through support of multiple protocols used to integrate with third-party components. Featuring USB, HDMI and IP connection options, the camera is ideally suited to use with streaming applications through RTSP, RTMP and Multicast. It also supports industry-standard protocols including UVC 1.1, TCP-IP, HTTP and DHCP. UNITE 200 Pro can be installed using a wall mount, ceiling mount or display mount.


During 2021, our overall revenue of $29 million was almost the same when compared to revenue during 2020. The increase in revenues from audio conferencing products and microphones were offset by a decline in revenues from video products. Despite the negative impact of COVID-19 and the infringement of our patents by Shure on all professional installed products, our new solutions incorporating Beamforming Microphone Array Ceiling Tile ("BMA-CT") and BMA 360 resulted in overall Beamforming Microphone Array ("BMA") revenue being significantly higher than last year and also helped increase revenues from audio conferencing products, especially revenue from professional installed products. However, revenue from BMA products as well as from our pro audio products are far below the levels prior to infringement of our patents. Our revenue performance reflects an impact of the on-going harm of infringement of ClearOne’s patents despite the preliminary injunction granted against Shure as we believe Shure continues to infringe our patents and violates the preliminary injunction. The patent infringement also has negatively impacted revenue from ClearOne’s other products not related to the infringed patents.  Video products suffered declines in 2021 compared to 2020 due to lack of demand for video products and personal audio conferencing products at the same level as it was in latter half of 2020 when the demand from work from home and learn from home markets was boosted by stimulus funding through CARES Act. 


Our gross profit margin decreased to 41% during 2021 from 43% during 2020. Net income of $0.5 million in 2020 changed to net loss of $7.7 million in 2021. The change from net income to net loss was primarily due to the recognition of income tax refund receivable of approximately $7.1 million in 2020 arising out of the carryback of net operating losses that became possible due to the enactment of the CARES Act, as well as due to a decrease in gross profit due to a decrease in revenues and profitability and an increase in operating costs, including the amortization of capitalized patent defense costs.  


During 2021, we continued our efforts, primarily through litigation, to stop the infringement of our strategic patents. We believe the decision by the U.S. District Court in August 2019 granting our request for a preliminary injunction to prevent Shure from manufacturing, marketing, and selling its competing ceiling microphone array in an infringing configuration is an incredibly valuable ruling for ClearOne and its business. The decision validates the strength and importance of ClearOne’s intellectual property rights, recognizes ClearOne’s innovations in this space, and stops Shure from further infringing the Graham patent pending a full trial. Although there can be no assurance of any outcome of a full trial, we believe this ruling will help pave the way for ClearOne’s recovery from the immense harm inflicted by Shure's infringement of our valuable patents. However, we are not getting the full benefits of the Court’s extraordinary remedy in the form of the preliminary injunction granted against Shure with respect to infringement of our ’806 Patent as we believe that Shure is still infringing ClearOne’s patent. 


On September 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois held that "Shure has violated the preliminary injunction order and is found in contempt because it designed the MXA910-A in such a way that allows it to be easily installed flush in most ceiling grids”. The Court also opined that, “[t]he record is clear and convincing that Shure - through its design choices - violated the injunction order by allowing integrators to install the MXA910-A in the enjoined flush configuration.” Ultimately, the Court ordered that “Shure shall no longer manufacture, market, or sell the MXA910...” . ClearOne’s motion to accuse Shure’s MXA910-US of infringing the ’806 Patent is still pending with the Court.


Shure expanded the original litigation in the U.S. District Court of North Illinois to the District of Delaware, where Shure filed claims for patent infringement, including of a design patent, and trade libel against ClearOne. In May 2020 and January 2021, we secured an important pair of wins, defeating Shure’s requests first for a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction, allowing us to continue selling our ground-breaking audio-conferencing products. In addition to defeating Shure’s requests for preliminary injunctive relief, we also obtained a stay of the proceedings with respect to the only other asserted patent. During November 2021, after a three-day jury trial, ClearOne obtained a complete victory against claims asserted by Shure, when the jury returned a verdict of no infringement and invalidated the asserted patent.


MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Industry conditions

 

We operate in a very dynamic and highly competitive industry which is dominated on the one hand by a few players with respect to certain products like traditional video conferencing appliances while on the other influenced heavily by a fragmented reseller market consisting of numerous regional and local players. The industry is also characterized by venture capitalist funded start-ups and private companies willing to fund cumulative cash losses in order to gain market share and achieve certain non-financial goals.

 

Economic conditions, challenges and risks

 

The audio-visual products market is characterized by intense competition and rapidly evolving technology. Our competitors vary within each product category. Our installed professional audio conferencing products, which is our flagship product category, continue to be ahead of the competition despite the reduction in revenues. Our strength in this space is largely due to our fully integrated suite of products consisting of DSP mixers, wide range of professional microphone products and video collaboration products. Despite our strong leadership position in the installed professional audio conferencing market, we face challenges to revenue growth due to the limited size of the market and pricing pressures from new competitors attracted to the commercial market due to higher margins.


Our video products and beamforming microphone arrays, especially highly advanced  BMA 360 and BMA-CT are critical to our long term growth. We face intense competition in this market from well-established market leaders as well as emerging players rich with marketing funds. We expect our strategy of combining Collaborate Space, our cloud-based video conferencing product, Collaborate Live, our appliance-based media collaboration product, our high quality professional cameras, and our high-end audio conferencing technology will generate high growth in the near future. 

 

We derive a significant portion of our revenue (approximately 51% in 2021) from international operations and expect this trend to continue in the future. Most of our revenue from outside the U.S. is billed in U.S. dollars and is not exposed to any significant currency risk. However, we are exposed to foreign exchange risk if the U.S. dollar is strong against other currencies as it will make U.S. Dollar denominated prices of our products less competitive.

 

In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus (“COVID-19”) started spreading from China and was declared a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic caused severe global disruptions and had varying impact on our business.  The installed audio conferencing market was negatively impacted due to lockdowns, postponement of projects and restrictions on installers to visit commercial sites. On the other hand, COVID-19 generated higher than normal demand in 2020 for our video products and personal conferencing products due to the significant expansion of work-from-home market. The extent of COVID-19’s effect on our operational and financial performance keeps evolving and depends on multiple factors including the severity and infectiousness of current and future virus strains, effectiveness of vaccines especially on novel strains of COVID-19, government regulations, etc., all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape. Supply chain disruptions resulting from COVID-19 have caused significant fluctuations in our costs of goods resulting in a reduction of our gross margins in 2021. We expect for these fluctuations to continue in 2022. If the pandemic continues to be a severe worldwide health crisis, the disease could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows and adversely impact the trading price of our common stock.


Deferred Revenue

 

Deferred revenue decreased from $123 thousand in 2020 to $54 thousand in 2021 due to a decline in new subscriptions to the video conferencing software.


31

MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

The following table sets forth certain items from our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income (loss) for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, together with the percentage change each item represents. Throughout this discussion, we compare results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2021 (“2021”) to the year ended December 31, 2020 (“2020” or “the comparable period”).

 

(In thousands, except percentages)

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 

Change

Favorable (Adverse)

in %

  

Revenue

 

$

28,967

 

 

29,069

 

 

 

-

  

Cost of goods sold

 

 

17,051

 

 

 

16,510

 

 

 

(3

)

Gross profit

 

 

11,916

 

 

 

12,559

 

 

 

(5

)

Sales and marketing

 

 

6,736

 

 

 

6,728

 

 

 

-

 

Research and product development

 

 

5,794

 

 

 

5,512

 

 

 

(5

)

General and administrative

 

 

6,881

 

 

 

5,886

 

 

 

(17

)

Total operating expenses

 

 

19,411

 

 

 

18,126

 

 

 

(7

)

Operating loss

 

 

(7,495

)

 

 

(5,567

)

 

 

(35

)

Loss before income taxes

 

  

(7,977

)

 

 

(5,924

)

 

 

(35

)

Provision for (benefit from) income taxes

 

 

(283

)

 

 

(6,429

)

 

 

(96

)

Net income (loss)

 

 $

(7,694

)

 

$

505

  

 

 

(1,624

)

  

Revenue

 

Our revenue was almost the same at $29.0 million in 2021 compared to revenues in 2020. The highest increase in revenue was seen in microphones with a 20% increase, followed by an increase in audio conferencing products of 6%. These increases were fully offset by a 28% decline in revenues from video products.  Video products suffered decline in revenues in 2021 compared to 2020 due to lack of demand for video products at the same level as it was in latter half of 2020 when the demand from work from home and learn from home markets was boosted by stimulus funding through CARES Act. Microphones increased in revenue on the back of significant growth from BMA products despite decline in revenues from traditional ceiling microphones. Except installed professional audio conferencing products, which had a significant increase in revenues due to the success of BMA based solutions, all other categories under audio conferencing declined in revenue during 2021. Personal conferencing products declined heavily as CARES Act stimulus induced growth in 2021 could not be replicated in 2020. We believe the on-going infringement of ClearOne’s patents is the major cause of our revenue decline in certain categories of audio conferencing and microphones. 


The share of audio conferencing products in our product mix increased from 38% in 2020 to 40% in 2021. The share of microphones in the revenue mix sharply increased from 31% in 2020 to 38% in 2021. Share of video products in the revenue mix declined significantly from 31% in 2020 to 22% in 2021. 

 

During 2021, revenue increased significantly in all regions of the world except North America.  Asia Pacific including the Middle East increased by 37%, Europe and Africa increased by 42% and the Americas decreased by approximately 23%.

 

We believe, although there can be no assurance, that we can return to our path of revenue growth and generating operating profits through our strategic initiatives namely product innovation, cost reduction and defense of our intellectual property.

 

MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS


Cost of Goods Sold and Gross Profit

 

Cost of goods sold (“COGS”) includes expenses associated with finished goods purchased from outsourced manufacturers, the manufacture of our products (including material and direct labor), our manufacturing and operations organization, property and equipment depreciation, warranty expense, freight expense, and the allocation of overhead expenses.

 

Our gross profit during 2021 was approximately $11.9 million or 41% compared to approximately $12.6 million or 43% in 2020. The gross profit margin was negatively impacted due to increase in material costs due to supply chain constraints and increased administration costs as a percentage of revenue partially offset by reduction in inventory obsolescence and freight and tariff costs.

 

Our profitability in the near-term continues to depend significantly on our revenues from audio conferencing products. We hold long-term inventory and if we are unable to sell our long-term inventory, our profitability might be affected by inventory write-offs and price mark-downs. Our long-term inventory includes approximately $0.5 million of wireless microphone-related finished goods and assemblies, $0.4 million of Converge Pro and Beamforming microphone array products, $0.5 million of video products and about $1.7 million of raw materials that will be used primarily for manufacturing installed professional audio conferencing products.

 

Operating Expenses and Profits (Losses)

 

Operating income (loss), or income (loss) from operations, is the surplus or deficit after operating expenses are deducted from gross profits. Operating expenses include sales and marketing (“S&M”) expenses, research and product development (“R&D”) expenses and general and administrative (“G&A”) expenses. Total operating expenses were $19.4 million in 2021, compared to $18.1 million in 2020. The following contains a more detailed discussion of expenses related to sales and marketing, research and product development, general and administrative, and other items.

 

Sales and Marketing S&M expenses include sales, customer service, and marketing expenses such as employee-related costs, allocations of overhead expenses, trade shows, and other advertising and selling expenses.

 

S&M expenses in 2021 and 2020 remained almost the same at $6.7 million.  During 2021, increases in advertising costs, commission paid to sales associates and costs incurred on termination of an employment agreement was offset by reduction in tradeshow related expenses and commissions paid to independent reps.

  

Research and Product Development R&D expenses include research and development, product line management, engineering services, and test and application expenses, including employee-related costs, outside services, expensed materials, depreciation, and an allocation of overhead expenses.

 

R&D expenses increased from $5.5 million in 2020 to $5.8 million in 2021. The increase was primarily due to increases in project related expenses and costs incurred on termination of employment agreements which was partially offset by decreases in regular employee-related costs and certain consulting expenses.

 

General and Administrative G&A expenses include employee-related costs, professional service fees, allocations of overhead expenses, litigation costs, and corporate administrative costs, including costs related to finance and human resources.


G&A expenses were approximately $6.9 million in 2021 compared with approximately $5.9 million in 2020. The increase in 2021 primarily due to higher amortization of capitalized legal costs related to patents litigation, increase in insurance expenses and executive bonuses was partially offset by reduction in legal expenses.

 

MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS


Provision for income taxes

 

The effective tax benefit rate was 4% (benefit) in 2021 as compared to the effective tax rate of 110% during 2020. Income tax benefit for 2021 was $0.3 million as compared to an income tax benefit of $6.4 million in 2020. The significant change in income taxes was primarily due to recognition of income tax refunds receivable of approximately $7.1 million arising out of the carryback of net operating losses that became possible due to the enactment of the CARES Act. Since the Company had set up a full valuation allowance against net operating losses from earlier years, the carryback of these losses resulted in the recognition of a substantial tax benefits. We have been recording a valuation allowance against net deferred tax assets since 2018 and have not been claiming tax benefit for our losses as we have concluded that it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets were not realizable, primarily due to our recent pre-tax losses. 

   

LIQUIDITY, CAPITAL RESOURCES AND FINANCIAL POSITION

 

As of December 31, 2021, our cash and cash equivalents were approximately $1.1 million compared to $3.8 million as of December 31, 2020. Our working capital was $18.0 million and $22.2 million as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively.

 

Net cash flows used in operating activities were approximately $4.4 million during 2021, an increase of approximately $3.4 million from $1.0 million used in operating activities in 2020. The increase in cash used was primarily due to change in net income of $0.5 million in 2020 to $7.7 million in net loss in 2021, an increase in non-cash charges of $0.1 million, partially offset by an increase in cash outflows due to change in operating assets and liabilities of $4.9 million which includes among other things a decrease of change in income tax receivable from $7.1 million in 2020 to $0.4 million in 2021, and an increase of change in prepaid expenses from $0.4 million in 2020 to $2.5 million in 2021.


Net cash used in investing activities was $8.5 million in 2021 compared to $5.5 million in 2020, an increase in cash used of $3.0 million. The increase in cash used in investing activities was primarily due to increase of about $1.1 million in the capitalization of our legal costs related to our patent defense partially offset by decrease in net cash inflows from marketable securities of approximately $1.8 million.

 

Net cash provided by financing activities was $10.2 million during 2021 compared to net cash provided by financing activities of $6.3 million during 2020, an increase in cash provided of $3.9 million. The increase was primarily to cash inflows from issuance of common stock and borrowing through issuance of short-term notes partially offset by repayment of a portion of senior convertible debt. 


Capitalization of patent defense costs. We capitalize external legal costs incurred in the defense of our patents when we believe that a significant, discernible increase in value will result from the defense and a successful outcome of the legal action is probable. When we capitalize patent defense costs we amortize the costs over the remaining estimated useful life of the patent, which is 15 to 17 years. During 2021 we spent $7.8 million of legal costs related to the defense of our patents and capitalized the entire amount.

 

We are currently pursuing all available legal remedies to defend our strategic patents from infringement. We have already spent approximately $28.2 million from 2016 through 2021 towards this litigation and may be required to spend more to continue our legal defense. We believe the decision by the U.S. District Court in August 2019 granting our request for a preliminary injunction to prevent our competitor from manufacturing, marketing, and selling its competing ceiling microphone array in an infringing configuration is an incredibly valuable ruling for ClearOne and its business. We believe that the decision validates the strength and importance of ClearOne’s intellectual property rights, recognizes ClearOne’s innovations in this space, and stops our competitor from further infringing our Graham patent (U.S. Patent No. 9,813,806) pending a full trial. Although there can be no assurance of any outcome of a full trial, we believe this ruling will help pave way for ClearOne’s recovery from the immense harm inflicted by our competitor's infringement of our valuable patents. However, we are not getting the full benefits of the Court’s extraordinary remedy in the form of the preliminary injunction granted against Shure with respect to infringement of our ’806 Patent as we believe that Shure is still infringing ClearOne’s patent. During September 2020, the U.S District Court of Northern Illinois held Shure in contempt for marketing and selling their new design in violation of the preliminary injunction.


 MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

We have also raised additional capital in 2019 by issuing senior convertible notes, in 2020 by borrowing through the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program and issuing common stock and warrants and in 2021 by issuing common stock and warrants and short-term notes. In addition, we have been generating additional cash as our inventory levels are brought down to historical levels.


We also believe that the measures taken by us will yield higher revenues in the future. We believe, although there can be no assurance, that all of these measures and effective management of working capital will provide the liquidity needed to meet our operating needs through at least through April 15, 2023. We also believe that our strong portfolio of intellectual property and our solid brand equity in the market will enable us to raise additional capital if and when needed to meet our short and long-term financing needs; however, there can be no assurance that, if needed, we will be successful in obtaining the necessary funds through equity or debt financing. If we need additional capital and are unable to secure financing, we may be required to further reduce expenses, delay product development and enhancement, or revise our strategy regarding ongoing litigation.

 

As of December 31, 2021, we had open purchase orders of approximately $7.7 million mostly for purchase of inventory.

 

As of December 31, 2021, we had inventory totaling $13.6 million, of which non-current inventory accounted for $3.6 million. This compares to total inventories of $15.1 million and non-current inventory of $4.6 million as of December 31, 2020.

Contractual Obligations and Commitments

 

The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2021 (in millions): 

 

 

Payment Due by Period

 

 

 

Total

 

 

Less Than

1 Year

 

 

1-3 Years

 

 

3-5 Years

 

 

More than 5

years

 

Senior Convertible Notes and short-term notes

 

$

4.6

 

 

$

2.7

 

 

$

1.9

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Payroll Protection Program borrowing

 0.8


0.8











Operating lease obligations

 

 

1.8

 

 

 

0.6

 

 

 

1.1

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

 

 

Purchase obligations

 

 

7.7

 

 

 

7.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

$

14.9

 

 

$

11.8

 

 

$

3.0

 

 

$

0.1

 

 

$

 

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

We have no off-balance-sheet arrangements that have or are reasonably likely to have a current or future material effect on our financial condition, changes in financial conditions, revenues or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources, results of operations or liquidity.

CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND ESTIMATES 

Our discussion and analysis of our results of operations and financial position are based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"). We review the accounting policies used in reporting our financial results on a regular basis. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. We evaluate our assumptions and estimates on an ongoing basis and may employ outside experts to assist in our evaluations. We believe that the estimates we use are reasonable; however, actual results could differ from those estimates. Our significant accounting policies are described in Note 1 - Business Description, Basis of Presentation and Significant Accounting Policies to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV of this report. We believe the following critical accounting policies identify our most critical accounting policies, which are the policies that are both important to the representation of our financial condition and results and require our most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain.

MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS


Revenue and Associated Allowances for Revenue Adjustments and Doubtful Accounts

The Company recognizes revenue when it satisfies a performance obligation. The Company recognizes revenue from sales agreements upon transferring control of a product to the customer. This typically occurs when products are shipped or delivered, depending on the delivery terms, or when products that are consigned at customer locations are sold to dealers or end users. Revenue recognized during the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 for audio and video conferencing equipment sales was $28.8 million, and for software, licenses, etc. was $0.2 million. Sales returns and allowances are estimated based on historical experience. Provisions for discounts and rebates to customers, estimated returns and allowances, ship and credit claims and other adjustments are provided for in the same period the related revenues are recognized, and are netted against revenues. For returns, the Company recognizes a related asset for the right to recover returned products with a corresponding reduction to cost of goods sold. The Company reviews warranty and related claims activity and records provisions, as necessary. 

 

Frequently, the Company receives orders with multiple delivery dates that may extend across reporting periods. Since each delivery constitutes a performance obligation, the Company allocates the transaction price of the contract to each performance obligation based on the stand-alone selling price of the products. The Company invoices the customer for each delivery upon shipment and recognizes revenues in accordance with delivery terms. Although payment terms vary, distributors typically pay within 45 days of invoicing and dealers pay within 30 days of invoicing. As scheduled delivery dates are within one year, revenue allocated to future shipments of partially completed contracts are not disclosed.

 

The Company has elected to record freight and handling costs associated with outbound freight after control over a product has transferred to a customer as a fulfillment cost and include it in cost of revenues. Taxes assessed by government authorities on revenue-producing transactions, including value-added and excise taxes, are presented on a net basis (excluded from revenues) in the Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss). 

 

The details of deferred revenue and associated cost of goods sold and gross profit are as follows (in thousands):

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

Deferred revenue

 

$

54

 

 

$

123

 

Deferred cost of goods sold

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deferred gross profit

 

$

54

 

 

$

123

 

 

The Company offers rebates and market development funds to certain of its distributors, dealers/resellers, and end-users based upon the volume of product purchased by them. The Company records rebates as a reduction of revenue in accordance with GAAP.

 

The Company provides, at its discretion, advance replacement units to end-users on defective units of certain products under warranty. Since the purpose of these units is not revenue generating, the Company tracks the units due from the end-user, until the defective unit has been returned. Any amount due from the customer upon failure to return the products is accounted as receivable only after establishing customer's failure to return the products. The inventory due from the customer is accounted at cost or market value whichever is lower. 


Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

 

We assess the impairment of long-lived assets, such as property and equipment and definite-lived intangible assets subject to amortization, whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of an asset may not be recoverable. Recoverability of assets to be held and used is measured by a comparison of the carrying amount of an asset or asset group to estimated future undiscounted net cash flows of the related asset or group of assets over their remaining lives. If the carrying amount of an asset exceeds its estimated future undiscounted cash flows, an impairment charge is recognized for the amount by which the carrying amount exceeds the estimated fair value of the asset. Impairment of long-lived assets is assessed at the lowest levels for which there are identifiable cash flows that are independent of other groups of assets. The impairment of long-lived assets requires judgments and estimates. If circumstances change, such estimates could also change. Assets held for sale are reported at the lower of the carrying amount or fair value, less the estimated costs to sell.


MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

Accounting for Income Taxes

 

We are subject to income taxes in both the United States and in certain non-U.S. jurisdictions. We account for income taxes following ASC 740, Accounting for Income Taxes, recognizing deferred tax assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates for the effect of temporary differences between book and tax basis of recorded assets and liabilities. We estimate our current tax position together with our future tax consequences attributable to temporary differences resulting from differing treatment of items, such as deferred revenue, depreciation, and other reserves for tax and accounting purposes. These temporary differences result in deferred tax assets and liabilities. We assess the likelihood that our deferred tax assets will be recovered from future taxable income, prior year carryback, or future reversals of existing taxable temporary differences. To the extent we believe that recovery is not more likely than not, we establish a valuation allowance against these deferred tax assets. Significant judgment is required in determining our provision for income taxes, our deferred tax assets and liabilities, and any valuation allowance recorded against our deferred tax assets.

 

To the extent we establish a valuation allowance in a period, we must include and expense the allowance within the tax provision in the consolidated statement of operations. In accordance with ASC Topic 740, “Accounting for Income Taxes”, we analyzed our valuation allowance at December 31, 2021 and determined that based upon available evidence it is more likely than not that certain of our net deferred tax assets will not be realized and, accordingly, we have recorded a full valuation allowance against these deferred tax assets in the amount of $13.2 million. Please refer to Note 13 - Income Taxes in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.

 

Share-Based Payments

 

We estimate the fair value of stock options using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, which requires certain estimates, including an expected forfeiture rate and expected term of options granted. We also make decisions regarding the method of calculating expected volatilities and the risk-free interest rate used in the option-pricing model. The resulting calculated fair value of stock options is recognized as compensation expense over the requisite service period, which is generally the vesting period. When there are changes to the assumptions used in the option-pricing model, including fluctuations in the market price of our common stock, there will be variations in the calculated fair value of our future stock option awards, which results in variation in the compensation cost recognized.

 

IMPACT OF RECENTLY ISSUED ACCOUNTING PRONOUNCEMENTS

 

For descriptions of recently issued accounting standards, see Note 1. Business Description, Basis of Presentation and Significant Accounting Policies of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

 

Not Applicable

 

 

Financial statements and supplementary data required by this are included herein as a separate section of this Form 10-K, beginning on page F-1, and are incorporated in this Item 8 by reference. 



 

None.

 

 

Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures

 

We maintain disclosure controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed in our reports filed under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), is recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the required time periods, and that such information is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance, as appropriate, to allow for timely decisions regarding required disclosure. As required by Rule 13a-15 under the Exchange Act, we have completed an evaluation, under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including the Chief Executive Officer and the Senior Vice President of Finance, of the effectiveness and the design and operation of our disclosure controls and procedures as of December 31, 2021. Our disclosure controls and procedures are designed to provide reasonable assurance of achieving their objectives. Based upon this evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance concluded that, as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report, our disclosure controls and procedures were effective at a reasonable assurance level as of December 31, 2021.

 

The effectiveness of any system of disclosure controls and procedures is subject to certain limitations, including the exercise of judgment in designing, implementing, and evaluating the controls and procedures, the assumptions used in identifying the likelihood of future events, and the inability to eliminate improper conduct completely. A controls system, no matter how well designed and operated, cannot provide absolute assurance that the objectives of the controls system are met, and no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, within a Company have been detected. As a result, there can be no assurance that our disclosure controls and procedures will detect all errors or fraud.

 

Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

 

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting as defined in Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Exchange Act. Our internal control over financial reporting is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

Our management conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2021 based on the framework set forth in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013 framework) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on our assessment using that criteria, management concluded that the design and operation of our internal control over financial reporting were effective as of December 31, 2021.

 

Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

 

There were no changes in our internal control over financial reporting that occurred during the fourth fiscal quarter that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.

 

 

None.


 

Not Applicable.


PART III
ITEM 10. DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

The following table sets forth certain information regarding our directors and executive officers as of April 15, 2022.

Name

 

Age

 

Position

 

Director or Officer Since

Zeynep “Zee” Hakimoglu

 

68

 

Chief Executive Officer, and President

 

2006 

Larry R. Hendricks

 

78

 

Director *

 

2003

Lisa B. Higley
54
Director *
2020

Eric L. Robinson

 

55

 

Chairman, and Director *

 

2015

Bruce Whaley

 

71

 

Director *

 

2019

Narsi Narayanan

 

51

 

Senior Vice President of Finance and Corporate Secretary

 

2009

*

Member of the Audit and Compliance Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating Committee


Zee Hakimoglu is our President and Chief Executive Officer. She joined our Company in December 2003 as Vice President of Product Line Management with additional responsibility for Research & Development and was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer in July 2004; she has served as a director of our Company since April 2006 and was named Chairman of the Board in July 2007. She served as Chairman of the Board till  February 2022. Prior to joining ClearOne, Ms. Hakimoglu has held senior executive level positions for a variety of high-tech Silicon Valley firms in such areas as business development, product marketing, engineering and product-line management. She served as Vice President of Product Line Management for a publicly traded developer of fiber optic subsystems and components, from December 2001 to December 2002; and, President of a manufacturer of fiber optic test equipment and components, from August 2000 to November 2001. From October 1998 to August 2000, she was Vice President of Business Development for Kaifa Technology and was instrumental in its acquisition by E-Tek Dynamics and later by JDS Uniphase. Through these acquisitions, she held the role of Deputy General Manager of the Kaifa Technology business unit. From May 1982 until it was acquired in September 1996, Ms. Hakimoglu held various positions including Vice President of Wireless Engineering and Vice President of the Wireless Business Unit for Aydin Corp., a global telecommunications equipment company that formerly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Ms. Hakimoglu earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from California State College, Sonoma, and a Master's Degree in Physics from Drexel University. 


Larry R. Hendricks has served as a director of our Company since June 2003.  Mr. Hendricks is a Certified Public Accountant who retired in December 2002 after serving as Vice President of Finance and General Manager of Daily Foods, Inc., a national meat processing company.  During his 30-year career in accounting, he served as a self-employed CPA and worked for the international accounting firm Peat Marwick & Mitchell.  Mr. Hendricks has served on the boards of eight other organizations, including Tunex International, Habitat for Humanity, Daily Foods, Skin Care International, and the National Advisory Board of the Huntsman College of Business at Utah State University.  He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from Utah State University and a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Utah.


Lisa B. Higley was appointed a director of our Company effective July 20, 2020. Ms. Higley has been self-employed as a CPA since June 2009. Previously, she was the CFO for Daisy D’s Paper Company from March 2007 until January 2009, where she managed all aspects of the company’s financial and accounting responsibilities. Additionally, Ms. Higley was the CFO for Tunex International from April 2006 to March 2007 where she was accountable for all financial aspects of the corporation. Prior to that, Ms. Higley was a staff tax accountant at Wisen, Smith, Racker & Prescott LLP from February 2004 to April 2006. Ms. Higley earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Oregon and her MBA from Utah State University, and has been a Utah CPA since 2004. Ms. Higley is the daughter of Edward D. Bagley, our former Chairman of the Board. Mr. Edward D. Bagley beneficially owns 45% of our issued and outstanding common stock.