Meta Materials Goes to Vegas

CES 2022, this year’s iteration of the annual consumer electronics trade show that bills itself as “the most influential tech event in the world,” was a “beast,” according to Tech Crunch, despite COVID concerns that cut in-person attendance to 40,000 from 180,000 in 2019 and caused some major companies — like Facebook, Google, AMD and Intel — to cancel or modify their in-person plans. (As I write, Reuters is reporting that about 70 South Korean attendees have since tested positive for COVID.)

The event, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada between January 5 and 8, counted 2,300 exhibitors this year, one of which was Dartmouth-based Meta Materials.

Meta Materials display at CES 2022, Las Vegas

Source: Twitter

Tech Crunch‘s Greg Kumparak used the term “beast” to explain why, even in the hybrid, half-virtual form it took this year, covering “all the news flooding out of the show” is not possible:

The big outlets each put a small army on CES coverage and only really scratch the surface.

Back in 2019, Chris Hoffman of How-To-Geek explained the the purpose of CES this way:

CES is an industry convention. For us in the media, it’s a chance to get a hands-on look at a variety of different products that might be released throughout the year…Startups want to get their gadgets in front of as many people as possible, too…

The big show also provides a chance for the technology industry to drive the hype and conversation, pushing big new technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things, smarthome technology, self-driving cars, smart cities, autonomous drones, and 8K TVs.

But it’s not just about the media; a lot of CES is business-to-business. Are you a representative of an electronics store, like Best Buy? CES will expose you to all sorts of products you might want to stock. Do you need a bunch of selfie sticks or smartphone cases made cheaply? You can find suppliers that can cheaply manufacture these products for you. There’s a lot of business-to-business action going on, often in back rooms.

Hoffman says that if you, as a consumer, get the idea that CES is a “non-stop parade of interesting products and promising technology,” that’s because “the technology media is doing a good job. You don’t have to walk past the endless booths of selfie sticks, drones, and iPhone cases.”

What strikes me about Meta’s booth is that it is not displaying anything that could be described as a consumer product. It seems to be demonstrating products that could be incorporated into consumer products, which may explain the lack of coverage from reporters entranced by countertop dishwashers named Bob (I have to admit, this one caught my eye too), cars that change color, and robot cats that nibble your fingers.

Keeping the realities of this massive trade show in mind, I thought I’d look at the kind of media coverage Meta Materials generated (SPOILER ALERT: Not much).


Press coverage

Meta Materials’ highest profile mention may be this one, from Politico:

Meta Materials' booth at CES2022

But that’s the full extent of the mention — the article doesn’t even explain what Meta Materials does.

I figured Meta CEO George Palikaras would be retweeting any and all coverage the company generated at CES, so I checked his feed and found this, from January 6:


Palikaras didn’t tweet about it, but he and CFO Ken Rice gave a 54-minute interview to the YouTuber behind Sterling Stocks — a channel with 6,000 subscribers. (The host himself says he can’t believe how much time they gave him.)

Sterling (I can’t find his full name) is a Meta mega-fan, so the “interview” is a love fest — neither Palikaras nor Rice is pressed on downers like the SEC investigation or the allegations in the Kerrisdale report or the class action lawsuit. Instead, they are given a chance to preach to the choir, that portion of Meta’s 170,000 retail shareholders  who believe, fervently, that the company is destined for great things and that its share price is headed “to the moon” (and who get very, very angry at anyone who suggests otherwise).


I’m going to pull a few highlights from the discussion (although the audio is terrible).



When Meta listed on the Nasdaq it did so by way of a reverse takeover of Torchlight Energy Resources, a Texas-based oil and gas exploration company.

Prior to the deal closing, Torchlight issued a Special Dividend of Series A Preferred Stock — stockholders of record as of 24 June 2021 would receive one share of Series A Preferred Stock for each share of common stock owned on that date.

Holders of Series A Preferred Stock will be entitled, on a pro rata basis, to any future net proceeds or other potential benefits derived from the disposition of the oil and gas assets of Torchlight, subject to certain holdbacks.

The merger concluded on 28 June 2021, but “disposing” of Torchlight’s oil and gas assets evidently proved more difficult than expected (although why this would be a surprise is an open question — Torchlight was struggling as an oil and gas company when it sought the merger with Meta). Meta found itself establishing an oil and gas subsidiary, OilCo Holdings and drilling four oil wells to hold onto the company’s lease. In December, Meta said it was “targeting a spinout or disposition of the oil and gas assets for early Q1 2022 pending process approvals by all parties involved.” (Rice said during this interview that they were “a little behind” on the drilling.)

This has angered some shareholders, who expected a cash dividend from the sale of the assets and may have to settle for shares in an oil company of dubious value.

But during the Sterling Stocks interview, Palikaras assured shareholders they would be very happy (Greg McCabe, the former board chair of Torchlight, is apparently “thrilled”) when they hear who has been tasked with leading Oilco and overseeing this “disposition or spinout,” and insisted investors would get the “maximum value” out of the assets.



Sterling asks whether or not the opening — expected in early 2022 — of Meta’s production facility in Halifax will constitute a “key step” for the company and Palikaras says:

It was a key step about six months ago.

He then looks to Rice who adds:

If you look at the genesis of the company since the last 12 months. When we started, we announced in December last year that we were doing the deal with Torchlight…Halifax was pivotal to the company. Why? Because it was going to house our internal roll-to-roll production capability along with all of our R&D and all of our development…Then what happened was the Torchlight deal turned into a much more lucrative transaction than we thought it would. It gave us a lot more flexibility. We went and bought Nanotech. Nanotech brought with it a facility…that is already capable of producing millions and millions of square meters a year of film.

And so what we did was, Halifax is still really important, because it’s 68,000 square feet, it’s going to be our headquarters. It’s not quite as important from a roll-to-roll production capability standpoint because, as it turns out, because of COVID and supply chain stuff going on around the world, we decided to stage all that equipment in California, it’s already there…

So we can test the equipment, optimize it and ultimately it will go to Halifax but…Halifax isn’t in the critical path anymore…

Palikaras then chimes back in:

Halifax has become, as Ken described, a different type of offering. For us, right now, it’s becoming a center of excellence and a training center for our customers.



Just in time for CES2022, Japan’s Sekisui Chemical announced it had developed — in conjunction with Meta Materials — a “transparent and flexible type of radio wave reflection film for 5G communications.”

There was some discussion of this during the interview, with Palikaras explaining that we should look for signs of Meta’s progress in press releases, like this one, from its partners rather than from Meta itself and in its sales figures. (Which is, of course, precisely where critics like Kerrisdale Capital have been looking.)