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TrackingPoint Admits “Financial Difficulty,” Stops Accepting Orders

Shooting the Tracking Point

TrackingPoint, the Pflugerville, Texas-based maker of expensive “Precision-Guided Firearms,” announced on its website this week that the company is no longer accepting orders due to “financial difficulty.” The statement on the website reads in full:

“Due to financial difficulty TrackingPoint will no longer be accepting orders. Thank you to our customers and loyal followers for sharing in our vision.” This comes on the heels of the company’s very-positive-sounding release of financial growth numbers for fiscal year 2014. A Feb. 24, 2015 PRNewswire posting on the company’s 2014 financial performance read: “…[Y]ear-on-year unit growth was 281% and year on year bookings dollars grew 107%. The company believes it is the fastest growing gun company in the world. According to IBISWorld, a premier market research group, the gun industry grew at only a 3.2% rate from 2009-2014.” “We are excited with our growth and customer adoption rate. Precision-Guided Firearms are resonating with a big piece of the market,” said Frank Bruno, recently appointed as TrackingPoint CEO. “As we continue to innovate we believe our extraordinary growth will continue as well.” In that February 2015 financial release, the company then mentioned it was “now seeing growing demand and interest in its Precision-Guided Firearms from the defense sector. Testing performed at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Yuma, Arizona proving grounds has shown that a typical Soldier performed significantly better than the military’s elite marksmen when using TrackingPoint’s Precision Guided Firearms.” The company also announced an internal restructuring to ensure and accelerate future growth.

“We have made a very large investment in Research and Development over the last 3 years. Our core technology is now foundationally mature, putting us in a position to lower operating costs,” said Bruno. “We are now situated to continue changing the way we hunt, shoot, and defend.” “This is an important time for TrackingPoint and the effect we have on the entire firearms industry. With new markets opening up and growing interest in our products, our company needs to focus on operational excellence,” stated Bruno. “We’ve established our excellence as a high-tech innovator. We will retain this technological leadership while enhancing our strengths operationally. These will be keys to our future success.”

Related TrackingPoint articles in the Shooter’s Log are here, here, and here.

Want to offer an opinion about why TrackingPoint has described itself as having financial difficulty? Products too expensive? Cultural resistance to technology? Expound below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (44)

  1. TrackingPoint is a Star-Up Company founded in 2011. To obtain a Miliary and/or Government Sales Contract, “Company” has to be Sponsored by an existing Government/Military Distributer for at least SEVEN Years. Or Sub-Contract through an Existing Government/Military Contractor.

  2. It is entirely possible, if not probable that what you say is correct. TrackingPoint may have died from a financial drought waiting for that one big government order that would never come. If this was the case, then it was a mistake not to ship the technology for use abroad as a “poor man’s” technology alternative to American’s better technology. It would have been a tough case to not let a country export what is already, in the government’s view, “inferior” technology.

    From a historical perspective, Trackpoint appears to me to be one of those “Transition Technologies” in an era of rapid change, much like the floppy disk was a transition from punch cards to USB sticks in computers.

    These are scary but exciting times for ordnance technology and manufacturers, CNC milling, 3D printing, new bullet for types, caseless ammunition and mobile electromagnetic rail rifles are but just a few of the tsunami of new technologies coming into the business. This is despite federal unconstitutional actions, lack of funding and political adversity.

  3. I guess we may never know why… Could be nefarious government actions, or a typical failure of a start-up. It is believable the Feds bought the company out to keep the technology to themselves. (But the “idea” is now out there, so others will develop something similar.) Or, often when inventors (the technology guys) create a better mousetrap, they don’t know how to make it in production – fast growth can be painful even if the technology guys happen to be good at running a manufacturing company. (Or had hired good managers.) Maybe they are just not accepting orders because their lead times are too long, and they need to build a new factory – when they have proper funding?

    But, I am confused. I think get the idea of how this product works, and I really think they are onto a great idea. But am I missing something? OK, so the rifle will only fire when pointed to where the bullet will strike the “tagged” point. Well how do you get an accurate location for the tag – isn’t that done in about the same manner as pulling a trigger? Isn’t the process of tagging subject to the same jitter/jerk issues associated with trigger pull? Sure, you get to re-tag if you don’t like the first point. But you could send multiple rounds down range for about the same effect. And use a lot less expensive weapon!

  4. Weird as it may sound I agree with Jim. Just look as those who have tried to develop new alternatives to fossil fuel such as hydrogen. The oil industry is so powerful that no one can move on the development of anything related. They are quickly shut down and moved into a dark corner. The same with anything the gov’t currently has in it’s arsenal. If TrackingPoint has really got something which would give you or I a one up over them (the gov’t), then secret negotiations would quickly make it go the way of hydrogen exploration and the next thing you know Uncle Sam has all the marbles and TP is “bought out” just like DHS bought out all the ammo for the last four years.

  5. There is no doubt that their technology worked. Regardless of what happened, the patents got published. Surprising, because there is a classified patent database and at least one of their patents made it to the public database and thus can be used by other companies now, legal patent royalty issues aside.

    Patent #: US20150059226

    http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20150059226&IDKey=20E1DCF37C92&HomeUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fappft.uspto.gov%2Fnetacgi%2Fnph-Parser%3FSect1%3DPTO2%2526Sect2%3DHITOFF%2526p%3D1%2526u%3D%25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsearch-bool.html%2526r%3D2%2526f%3DG%2526l%3D50%2526co1%3DAND%2526d%3DPG01%2526s1%3DTrackingPoint.AS.%2526OS%3DAN%2FTrackingPoint%2526RS%3DAN%2FTrackingPoint

  6. I agree with Jim (May 31)….government saw it, wanted it, made them an offer they can’t refuse. Result…”not taking any more orders”….from the public that is. Does not matter if the product works as advertised or not. Government does not worry about petty little details.

  7. Boy, you gotta love the conspiracy theories that rely upon no readily or even sparsely available evidence to support them.
    OK, I’ll throw my conspiracy theory on, it’s the Grand Conspiracy of the Space Aliens, who beamed up the inventory.

    OK, on the sane side of reality, company growth was excellent, strangely, no company reporting on completed orders or sales figures.
    The company can grow like hell, remember the dot com bomb? Vaporware, no products, but excellent company growth.
    Until it was delivery time. Then, boom went the business.

    Great advertisement from the company, but does anyone here know of *anyone* who has ordered a weapon from these guys?

    Oh, for the fellow who mentioned the DARPA smart bullet, yes, DARPA has one. I believe they’re trying to get it into production to see how it fares whem mass produced (a hell of a lot of things never survive scaling them up from single, custom units to mass production).
    But, this was a beast of a different color. You designated where you wanted the round to strike, then you had to direct the sights back to the desired point of strike before the automation fired the rifle for you.

  8. The fundamental reason they are failing is inadequate management, like so many startups here in Silicon Valley. Yes, manufacturing growth needs increasing amounts of capital if they are successful, but getting that capital and managing that growth is what management is there for. The specific point of failure may never be known, but it will always be a management failure.

  9. Living in Yuma and being around the Proving grounds for many decades I can honestly say if something was tried here at Yuma Proving grounds,(YPG) and found to be a superior piece of technology, with the bugs work out, the unit or item being able to be sold right now and the item being much better than anything the govt currently has in it’s inventory–they, the govt just buys it up, shut s it down for civilian use so our competitors or those against use can’t get it and then it is all theirs…..
    If you think about it the testing here at YPG using a regular off the street soldier who could outshoot the best of the best ,,well that ought to pretty much answer everyone’s questions. It is not the money is upside down in the company it is the fact the govt just took it and now we are left with one less item in the shooting sports inventory.

    1. ^

      If the government “took” the tech, why would they claim financial difficulty? Should you really accuse them of lying without any evidence to support it?

  10. The government is restricting them because they don’t want this in civilian hands. They will be taking over the company per sa.

  11. ******Y’all need to go back and read what’s behind Asus here. They were just getting ready to open up a more pronounced R&D. The typical soldier could shoot better than elite marksman. They were about to lower the prices so that said hardware would be at a better cost point for everyone. Sounds to me like the government saw this company was about to become a threat. I mean why would they want average citizens to be able to afford something that for the most of us just couldn’t afford? Why would they want to have a company that can provide a weapons platform that would have any law enforcement or military afraid to come in and take your weapons from law abiding citizens? And finally, doesn’t everyone think that this is coming at a time when there is a lot of gun control debate? Let me here y’alls 2 cents.*****

  12. Sounds like someone had them shut down and also put a gag order in place. Like some shadowy government organization. This weapons technology needs to be handled and developed secretly, not by a public company. Or, at least that’s what they would say.

  13. Believe it or not a company can actually be TOO successful. The more orders pour in the more capital you need to fuel the materials & labor to make the products that you might have a 30 to 60 day payment time on it.
    So if the products are expensive, and you have to make a thousand of them, you need to have enough money to cover expenses until cash comes back in from the sales.
    (Governments are especially slow to pay!!)

    1. John is absolutely right. Something you learn in your first few courses in Business Administration, Finance etc. The common term is “Cash Flow Problem”.

      It is one of the biggest, but often unforeseen problems a small, or any, business faces. The TYPICAL solution is to approach a bank for the normal Short Term (less than one year) Business loan, using your accounts receivable or outstanding orders as collateral for the loan or at the minimum justification for the bank to take a risk.

      This is the whole point of “Operation Checkpoint”, to prevent any firearms related business, be it a manufacturer or small gun shop, from getting financing at this critical point.

  14. First a disclaimer. I am not that much of a gun nut. Guns were much more fun a half century (e-gads or more) ago when I was living in semi-rural W.Va. when you could walk thru town carrying your 22 rifle by yourself YEARS before you were old enough to drive. And target shooting was something you did from your front porch.

    And even though I have a 30-30, I don’t even have a hunting license. Honestly, I don’t even remember if one was required when I was growing up. Although I know none of my friends had one. Perhaps only adults needed one.

    Having said that, one thing I noticed about the “Gee Wizz” (maybe even I could hit the broad side of a barn while standing inside while using it), was the demos appeared to have been shot on the set of Mad Maxx.

    While I can see why westerners (and those living or fighting in the garden spots of the world, like Afghanistan), I haven’t seen any demos showing the superiority of the system in locations closer to me, where you are lucky if you can 30 YARDS through the trees and underbrush.

    Or in a urban (or suburban) environment, especially when you are not of the 20th story of a building.

  15. Why is TrackingPoint in trouble? How about $25,000 rifles? Or perhaps battery dependent technology. Just saying, A trained marksman with off-the-shelf rifle, scope and ammo that cost about a ‘grand’ could do the same thing as these high dollar toys. Have to agree with HankB: system was just too complex to be practical in all conditions.
    Too, I’m not sure they were confident about their product.As a skilled long range marksman, offered to shoot against ‘it’. Get there on my own, w/rifle and ammo. Co. just laughed it off. Wonder how many others offered to do the same, or is that’ threatened to do the same?

    1. I thoroughly doubt you could do what we just saw that thing do, Roy. Seriously, traveling along on a zip-line? You’re not Chris Kyle, and even if you were, I’d have to laugh at you, too. Sorry, but from where I’m watching, you’re either delusional, or a better shot than any human being, ever!

  16. Not EVERYTHING is a government conspiracy. My guess would be that the system didn’t work as well in the field as it did in the company’s demos. Reliability problems? Accuracy problems? Ease of use issues? Don’t know. But it’s mighty expensive and mighty complex for a rifle sight which has to work in wind, rain, dust, smoke, hot, cold, bright, dim, and dry conditions.. Maybe they just DIDN’T get the juicy government contract they wanted.

  17. Gotta remember that right after this technology hit the market good ol’ DARPA came out with a flyer that not only did they also have this tech, but had a “Smart” bullet to go with it. Then no more info available. Makes you wonder !

    1. Remember a decade ago there was a guy that wrote software for the legal/justice system. He had all his money into it and the department of justice and other big boys ripped him off. Some how he was up on charges etc. They basically stole it from him.

      The system is in use today, but the inventor didn’t see a dime from it. It is like the other systems that are being used for surveillance. Last I heard it had a back door in it some the government can watch other countries legal systems.

  18. Their press releases are pretty vague. It could mean they were bought out by a bigger company so they are taking the money and running, or that there is an internal power struggle with financial consequences.

  19. There may be states out there like CA where any slight change in the design of a firearm immediately renders it illegal for sale. My local range got itself into a heap of trouble with not only CA gun owners, but NJ gun owners as well. What did they do? They put a handgun in their sales counter that contained “smart technology” where the gun could only be fired by whoever was wearing the magic ring. They stupidly didn’t check the law that stated that as soon as “smart technology” firearms became available all other old technology handguns were rendered illegal for sale. Enter NJ law which stated whenever a “smart technology” handgun went on sale ANYWHERE in the U.S. all old technology handguns immediately became illegal for sale in NJ. The range owner in CA said he made a mistake by putting the new gun up for sale since there was only one gun available and it was chambered for .22. (Great self defense weapon. Magic rings required to fire a gun chambered in the powerful .22!) Even the patent owner said the gun wasn’t ready for sale to the general public. The point of my long story is who knows how many of these little time bombs are sitting on the books, ticking away just ready to blow up in some gun manufacturers face. Anyway, just throwing that out there as a possible explanation.

  20. We definitely can’t rule out the possibility that elements within Big Brother government used promises and/or threats to get this company to stop selling to the general public. The US government HATES our freedom (what’s left of it) and wants to ensure that only its obedient pawns in the police and military have access to the most advanced weaponry. Eventually that weaponry ends up being pointed at Americans who dare to assert their rights.

    It’s also possible that the military lost interest for any number of practical reasons, and the high price probably kept civilian sales down.

  21. Never, I mean NEVER, screw the housekeeper, maid, babysitter, whomever. Sooner or later they figure out that the secret you’re keeping is worth a lot more than their job.
    I’m wondering where G-Man got his info on the landlord, etc… I live just outside of Pflugerville, and haven’t heard squat. Didn’t even know they were in town.

  22. The best way to find out whats happening is to have some company reverse engineer the technology and then wait to see what cockroaches come crawling out of the woodwork to sue them.

  23. i would say one of two things, either huge government contract and they tell us to go to hell. or their product is not that good as they say and people are finding it out.

    if you have a hot product everyone wants, no matter what banks do or say, you have the money and profets to build and sell more products.

  24. I’m going to call it right now… something is amiss; and it is not actually due to financial woes. A company going from fantastic growth with financial reports to back it up as recently as February, and then suddenly claims such a severe decline in a mere month or two is quite captivating to say the least.

    Sure everyone in business knows new startups statistically go bust within the first 2 years of operation, but there is more to this than meets the eye. Additional information reveals this company had powerful financial backers, solid growth, and a business model so strong that even the industrial park that leases the property to TrackingPoint says the silence over this is quite suspicious.

    The property owners even say the (rather large) rent payment is currently paid up and has never been late – an otherwise telltale sign used as a first indicator when a business is going bust. The landlord adds this company appeared so well structured by local officials they were authorized an incentive deal which lowered TrackingPoint’s monthly lease by $5000 for each employee they hired.

    However, the lease agreement also stipulates they must increase rents in the event of employee losses. So with sources stating approximately 60+ employees having been recently laid off, TrackingPoint has some explaining to do. Adding to the suspicion is the leasing company’s inability to reach TrackingPoint for a response as required under contract.

    So with all that, I am going to go with GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it is the only way to explain such odd and sudden behavior. I think the government swooped in out of fear over such advanced technology being so flagrantly made available to the public. Free market in the US allows such business, and so with no other alternatives to shut it down, the government instead had to buy them out in order to shut down public access.

    With rents paid in full and no other serious debt, it has to be the government (your tax dollars) paying the buy-out bill.

    1. I’m waiting for Obama or Kerry to answer the question. Of course, it’s all hush-hush now, but maybe O and K made a deal with the Iranians? Hey—possibly fodder for a new novel by Ken Follett? Oh well….either way, I’m resigned to more practice at the range. 🙂

    2. I’m going to guess that Hillary Clinton and The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Slush Fund…er,…sorry Foundation worked out a deal to get these weapons into Syria. Brokered by that International Man of Mystery–Sid “Vicious” Blumenthal.

    3. Good points, G-Man. As an afterthought, though, it might be possible that the company started up without sufficient capital to keep it going. I don’t think this is much of a theory, but I remember back in one of my business administration classes that one of the the major causes (if not THE major cause) of new business failure is undercapitalization.

      But….I am inclined to believe that this was not the cause of this company’s difficulties. Good management plus low debt and a very promising product should not tip the scales toward business failure IMO.

      Woody: great article, and please publish some updates on this situation. I (for one) am deeply interested.

  25. Sounds to me like a company that produced a revolutionary new product cought the eye of of a Bolshevik industry spy who quickly tattled to their
    “Controller” ( think Feinstein here) and the company was ordered to stand down on private citizen sales.

    For all you sleepers out there…..NOTE….a Republican majority has not gained Jack Sprat for any of us. All the great promises like dust on the wind. But the Bolshevik dollars are lining their pockets buddy boy.

  26. Don’t say Gout, I have it, it’s no fun. I also don’t have the “Disposable Asset’s”, that a lot of these Manufacturer’s seem to THINK we have. So, I’m not buying this WIDGET anytime soon…

  27. Probably a victim of the new Obama banking squeeze for the firearms industry that’s affecting dealers as well. They go bankrupt and the Chinese or the Govt will by up the intellectual property and design prototypes at auction.

    1. Nailed IT..!!! The DOJ has contacted there Banks and ordered them to stop doing business with this Company…!!! It’s criminal and anyone with a brain knows what is coming…keep buying up all you can from Cheaper then Dirt or your local Gun Store..!!!

  28. Sounds like they ran out of venture capital, lost the interest of the Pentagon, or was scuttled by the CEO who ran off to Bermuda with a hot blonde.

    1. Why do we always blame the “hot blonde”? Arnold Schwarzenegger was “CEO” of California.His down fall was the frumpy house keeper! Yes I had to look up how to spell his name.

    2. Old & Grumpy: good point! Maybe if Arnold had banged a “hot blonde,” he might have gotten away with it. Moral of the story: stay away from fumpy housekeepers. 🙂

    3. Arnold was married to a Kennedy and wanted to act like one but figured he would not get nabed screwing the help in place of a hot blonde.

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