The first time I met Julie was some time in 1994 when she became the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations at Qualcomm, which I had been covering as a telecommunications equipment analyst and recommending since 1992 up to my official departure from Salomon Smith Barney in the summer of 2001. After a sabbatical to go to the Culinary Institute of America to become a professional chef, she is back in the corporate world as the Vice President of Investor Relations at another exciting technology company based in San Diego, CA. She is now with Mitek Systems, which is a leading innovator of software that captures/reads data from mobile devices using proprietary technology called Mobile Capture. If you have ever used your smart phone to scan a check so it can be automatically deposited into your bank account, you actually were a beneficiary of Mitek’s enabling technology.
Now that she is back in the corporate world and on the conference circuit, I was able to catch up with her in New York immediately after the Barclay’s investor conference on mobile commerce. Mitek Systems sounds like a great story certainly worthy of some additional research. However, I am a photographer now so I convinced her to sit for a corporate headshot she can use for various social media sites for business networking. I wanted to travel light so I did the entire portrait session using my Leica M9 and a 75mm Summilux. After our photo session, which I could not have accomplished without Karen’s help, we had lunch at the Capital Grill to talk about old times when Karen and I were at Smith Barney covering the telecommunications equipment sector and Julie was in the trenches dealing with everyone on Wall Street. The only person missing from the mix was T.C., who is now in North Carolina some where. I spent most of my time meeting with executives and investors as well as media appearances, while TC and Karen did all the real work that was visible to everyone.
I dealt with Julie throughout most of the 1990s. It was a very volatile and exciting time covering Qualcomm prior to the wide scale deployment of the company’s core CDMA technology by wireless carriers. In fact, the company along with Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel and Lucent, in my opinion, played a major role in helping me become the top telecommunications equipment analyst on the street for many years. There were so many changes in progress as wireless carriers migrated from their old analog networks based on AMPS to digital wireless technologies such as CDMA and GSM as well as third generation technologies. There certainly was a significantly greater number of detractors than supporters during that time. There was so much misinformation and guesstimating by investors and analysts that I was able to provide a value added service by educating new investors and keeping old investors informed. As one hedge fund manager told me, “I call you when I need the big picture, to talk about a company’s corporate strategy, or arrange a meeting with executives, but I call Joe Bellace if I need to know what the quarter looks like.”
Julie was extremely helpful during those tumultuous times. Despite her crazy travel schedule, she was always able to return my phone calls to answer questions or direct me to those who can be of some assistance. I think Julie was instrumental in helping Qualcomm be more open to the public and advise on how some decisions may affect the street so it really helped Julie build her credibility with the buy side and the sell side of Wall Street. Compare that to the Street, which rarely if ever the impact of our decisions play a role in our financial analysis. We just wanted to be the first with the information or right on the direction of the stock. That is why so many analysts are such boneheads, present company excluded of course.
During lunch, we reminisced about Qualcomm and as well as new opportunities at Mitek Systems. However, true to form Julie could not tell us much since we were only two days from the end of the quarter. Some things never change.