New E Ink Leader Sees Colorful Future for Company Under Taiwan’s Prime View International

A couple of weeks ago, Xconomy broke the news that Russ Wilcox, co-founder of Cambridge, MA-based E Ink, was leaving the company after eight years as CEO. Shortly after that report I caught up with the organization’s new leader, executive vice president T.H. Peng, who was formerly director of strategic planning at Prime View International (PVI), the Taiwanese display maker that acquired E Ink last year for about $450 million.

We talked about Wilcox’s departure, as well as the division’s expansion plans as it tools up to produce even more of the electrophoretic displays that go into e-book reading devices made by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and other companies. Currently the company has over 100 job openings in 37 different categories, from R&D engineers to manufacturing specialists, making it one of the fastest-growing technology organizations in Massachusetts.

The division definitely needs the help, considering forecasts that annual sales of e-book devices, which surpassed 1 million for the first time in 2008, are expected to rise to 18 million by 2012. It’s also in the midst of an aggressive push to perfect full-color displays to supplement today’s monochrome versions—an improvement that’s critical to PVI’s future if devices with electrophoretic displays are to keep pace with LCD-based competitors from the likes of Apple.

Here’s a writeup of my conversation with Peng. E Ink’s vice president of marketing, Sriram Peruvemba, was also on hand for the interview.

Xconomy: How has the acquisition of E Ink by Prime View International changed each company?

T.H. Peng: The first thing to know is that right now, the Cambridge office is one organization of a global company, and the name is Prime View International. The focus will not just be on Cambridge. It’s going to be a combination of the management team in Korea, Taiwan, and Cambridge, under the global organization. We have a CEO in Taiwan, Scott Liu. Right now in Cambridge, we are working very closely with a team in Taiwan on the integration effort, in which we want to come up with a very strong service to our customers as well as supply more and more advanced products to our customers.

X: What can you tell me about the thinking and the timing behind Russ Wilcox’s departure as CEO of the E Ink division? Why was this the time for the transition?

THP: I don’t want to speak for Russ. The thing I do want to say is that I really admire his capabilities. He’s one of the smartest persons that I have met. We still maintain very good relations after his departure. The decision was made jointly by … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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