Toshiba Tech

Corporation shows forward-thinking balanced with its reliable hardware

Toshiba’s two latest news items demonstrate the company’s ability to balance progressive ideas and its reliable hardware. The company’s shareholder probe is being called “landmark” for Japanese corporate governance; and it recently announced a partnership with a Utah airspace security company.

First, the probe. Last week, Toshiba Corp. shareholders voted in favor of an independent probe into allegations that investors were pressured ahead of last year’s annual general meeting – a decision that is being called “a watershed victory set to spur more shareholder activism in Japan.”

What does this mean for the company’s 140,000+ employees, about 7,000 of whom are in the U.S.?

For starters, “shareholder activism” is loosely considered to be a harbinger for corporate change, often signaling divestment or restructuring. For a corporation like Toshiba with thousands of patents and reliable contracts in place, this could mean more independence for its workforce. The caveat: it could also result in layoffs. We don’t know the outcome yet, but the important thing here is that the vote marks “only the fourth time an activist shareholder motion has won approval in Japan and the first at a major company that is a household name,” according to Reuters via Yahoo Finance. “It is also notable for the gravity of allegations that emerged after the AGM. Some Toshiba shareholders had felt pressure to vote in line with management’s wishes on director nominations after contact from a government adviser or the trade ministry, sources have previously told Reuters.”

According to WEForum, “the influence of active shareholders may not necessarily be detrimental to a company – it can bring benefits. There are moderate activists and institutional investors such as pension funds or sovereign wealth funds that act as guardians of long-term value creation. Many cases show their voting behaviour to be more orientated towards the long-term. This influence has helped protect companies from controversial practices, especially in terms of excessive executive compensation or megalomaniac investments.”

Apropos of investments: Toshiba’s most recent partnership indicates it will pursue emerging technologies to pair with its core of industrial applications. Adding to its core businesses—which include industrial electric motor manufacturing and consumer electronics—Toshiba announced it has established a strategic partnership with Fortem Technologies aimed to “to expand the reach of both companies in counter drone tech.”

Fortem, based in Pleasant Grove, Utah outside Salt Lake City, is a provider of solutions and material for “airspace security and defense for detecting and defeating dangerous drones,” according to its website. It was founded in 2016 and has over 100 employees. The companies announced March 23 that the Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions division has invested $15 million in the company and that they have formed a strategic business alliance. The two companies will integrate their “highly complementary systems”, according to a Fortem press release.

Toshiba, meanwhile, describes Fortem as “a technology leader in counter-drone security” and says through the alliance it will aim “to expand its radar-based security solutions business.”

Drone security has been a chief concern for manufacturers and citizens alike since UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the technical term for drone) usage exploded in both personal and delivery aspects over the past two decades.

Fortem deploys a system called SkyDome that is uses for drone detection and calls “easy to install and effective in urban environments.” Also part of the system is an AI-enabled autonomous drone that can “safely capture and remove rogue drones day and night.”

Toshiba has already commercialized a drone detection system that can determine the incoming direction and altitude of a drone by receiving radio waves emitted by the drone in flight.

Masaki Haruyama, Vice President of Toshiba said, “We are excited to partner with Fortem, a pioneering counter-drone solution provider with proven detection system and unique and highly effective interception system. Toshiba has a long history of providing leading technologies of radars. With the perfectly complementary technologies and products of the two companies, we are confident that we can become a global top-tier player in a rapidly growing market, and contribute a safer, more reliable facilities.”

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