FST Fails

By Dan Gelinas, Published Jul 17, 2018, 10:52am EDT

FST was one of the hottest startups of the decade, selected as the best new product at ISC West 2011 and backed with tens of millions in funding.

Now, the company is ceasing operations and looking toward something new.

In this note, we share feedback from the company, examine the challenges they faced, criticism from an investor, a new retail-focused company and lessons for this generation's face startups. 

FST *********

*** ********** *** ********* for **** **** *** company "*** ****** *** operations." *** ******* *** company **** "******* *** contractual *********** ** *********** an ******** ******* ****" for ******** *** *******. 

** ** **** ***********, FST *** **** ** other ****** ********* *** notice ** ***** *******.

Ambitions - *** *** *** *** *** **** ********

*** *******, ******** ** Israeli ***** ******* ******* [link ** ****** *********], aimed ** **** '***' the *** *** **** building, ************* ******, *****, gait *** ***** ********* to ******** ******** *********** providing ***** *** ****** access ** **********. **** 2010 ***** ******** *** company's *****:

Challenges *** *** *******

** ******* ***** **** a ****** ** ********** for *** *******:

  • ******* ****** ** ******* raised
  • *** ******* / ** profits
  • *********** / ******** **********
  • **** ***** *****

***** *** ************* ** ***** $** million ** *******, ********* ***** ****** control ** * ********** small ****** **** ***** it **** ** ***** the ******* ****** ********* to ******* **** **********.

*** ******* *** *** profitable **** ****** ******* under $** ******* (******* significantly ****), ********* ** sources ***** ** *** company. By ********, *** ******* had **+ *********, ***** resulted ** * *********** ongoing **** ****.

*** ******* *** *********** challenges, ********** ******* **** factors **** ** ******** (too ******, *** ****), positioning ** *******, *** people ****** (** *** not ****) ** *** camera, ******* ****, *******, etc. **** **** ** harder ** *** ***** and ******** **** **** and ******* ** ****** that ******.

****** ** **** **** challenging, *** ***** ***** never **** **** ** be ********** **** ***** access ******* ********* - even ***** ********** ***** offerings. **** ** *** price ***** ******** **** the *****, *** ****** still **** ** *** range ** *** ********* of ******* *** **** to ***, *********** *** number ** ***** *** would **** ******** ****.

Criticisms From ********

*** ******* *** ***** public ********** **** ** investor / *******, **** Tal [**** ** ****** available],*******:

 

New *** / ********

[**** ** ****** *********]

** ****, *** ******* on * *** ******** [link ** ****** *********], Avi **** [**** ** longer *********] **** ******-******* company *******. *** ********** includes ***** *** ******** ** Amdocs, * ******** *** services ******* ** **** as ******** ******* ** a "*****-*******-****** **********" ****** the ******* *** **** to *** ******** *** software ******** ***.** ********** ******** ** IPVM, ***'* *** ********** conceived ********* **** ***** multi-tenant ******* *** ********** installations. ******* ** ***** has ****** *** ************ well *** ***. *******, new ******** **** *** **** changing *** *** ******** model. ******, ***'* *** current ******* ********** *** retail *********, ** ***** below:

*******, ***** *** *** confirmed **** *** ******* operations, **** ** *** coming ** ***.

Launch ** ******** *** ******

********** * *** ******* geared ****** ********** *********** intelligence ** ********* ***** ** *** ** FST's *** ******* ******* *** *********. While *** ******** ** comment ** *** ************ of *** *** *********, sources *** ***** *** been * **** ** place *** * ***** to ******* **** **** security *** **** **** toward * ******-******* ******** that ***** ******* ****** management *** ***** ** knowing **** * *** customer ******* *** *****.

******** ** **** ********. The ******* *** ***** details ******* ** *** concept ** *********** ***** shoppers.

** ** *** ***** how the ******** ****** **** ********* them (*.*., ******* ** is *** ****** *********** or ****** ***** ******** or ***** *****).

** *** ******** ****, Naor's ****** ********** *** his ********** *** **** them ** **** *********.

****** ********* **** ***** own **********. **** *** potentially ** ** *****. Many ********* **** ***** for **** *****, **** with ******* *******.

Lessons *** ****** *********** ********

******** ******* ****** ** treated **** **********. **** look ** *** ******** FST ******** [**** ** longer *********]: ********* **** Forbes, ***, *** / ISC ****, ***, ******** Today, ***** & ********, ASIS, ***, ***, ***.

[**** ** ****** *********]

**** ***** ********* *** challenges *** ********. *** would ** *** **** go *** * ******-*********** access ******* ******** **** could **** **** **** five ***** **'* **** reader *** **** ********** cousin?

******** ******** ******. *** fact ** *** ****** is **** ****** ******* just ***** ** ****, and ** ***** ** do ** ** *** face ** *** **********-- the ******'* *** ***** and *** ****** *** up (********, ***********, ***.).

***'* ******* ***** ** an *********** ******, ** a *** ********** ** facial *********** ******** ***** great ********. **** *** eventually ***** **** *** they ****** ********* ******** the ******** ** ****.

Comments (16)

I want to welcome Dan Gelinas to IPVM. While this is his first week and first IPVM post, many of you may know him from his prior work as an integrator, at Rapid Response and at SSN. Look for more business reporting from Dan!

Thank you, John! I'm looking forward to contributing.

Welcome, Dan!

Great article, I like your style!

Thanks!

Not surprised with the news. FST was extremely particular with lighting conditions. It was expensive and complex and inflexible in my opinion. 

We looked at them with interest due to the depth of their integration with our Access control system. We stopped looking any further when they refused to offer a free or even discounted trial. 

...just needs to work, and it needs to do so in the face of key challenges...

Clever pun....almost missed it.

Facial Recognition is the siren-song that has lured too many wide-eyed young access control companies to the depths of a sad abyss.

Access control needs to be as reliable as a card swipe.  Anything less than that is an abject failure, so using Facial Recognition as a primary credential is doomed to failure.  It's ok as a "challenge" mechanism, but using it as the only form of credential is inherently flawed.

I have advised facial recognition companies in the past, and my advice is always the same: Market to casinos, loss-prevention, etc.... anywhere that any accuracy greater than 50% is rewarded.  If you can detect one known card counter out of five, or one known thief out of a hundred, you have provided value.  But miss one valid person out of a hundred in access control?  You run out of money in 7 years....or months.

using it as the only form of credential is inherently flawed.

Agreed.

The counter, of course, is that just using one's face makes it faster and easier for people to use, except when the face system falsely triggers an invalid entry alert and problems ensue.

On the other hand, Hikvision's new product advertises 'open a door with a glance':

Email from FST forwarded to us:

I regret to inform you that the Board of Directors of FST Biometrics has decided to cease all regular operations of the Company, including the access control business. The decision was made last month and is in the process of being implemented.

This decision, which was not an easy one by any means, was made after much discussion and deliberation between myself and the rest of the Board. The reason for the decision is because of lack of funds to run the company. We did everything we could to keep the Company open, including look for more investors, but sadly we were unable to find enough capital to continue operating.

We understand the inconvenience of this decision to our customers and we will do whatever we can to make the cessation of operations as easy as possible. In order to mitigate the effect on our customers’ businesses, the company has decided to retain a support team that will fulfill the company’s contractual obligations related to current support agreements and warranties. The support team will be operational until July 2019, covering all open contracts and agreements.

I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate your business and support over the years. We understand that this is not easy for you and your teams, however, I am sure that you will be able to find another vendor to meet your access control and identification needs from the many great options on the market.

We are available to answer any questions that you may have. You can contact the FST team via email at Service@fstbm.com and we will respond during regular Israeli business hours.

If I am an FST customer, I would get a replacement in the next year. Trying to maintain an out of business biometrics access control system is likely going to cause more problems than its worth.

Also, interesting that there is no mention of Preciate, which the CEO is clearly moving on to, based on Preciate's own website.

Did they have any intellectual property they could have sold, say to another access control manufacturer, or sold the responsibility of covering the support and warranty to another EACS company? That might have had appeal to another EACS company for the purpose of what you said, to have those potential customers that at the end of supporting the FST product the takeover EACS company could convert those customers to their own products.

Just thinking out loud of some things FST might have done in the interest of their customers.

Good question/point. I am sure they have IP, how valuable that IP is to others, I don't know.

One important open question is whether or how that IP / technology is going to Preciate.

I know when we implemented it, their facial recognition algorithm was licensed from another company. That was 3+ years ago.

 

We ended up installing this on 6 door for 3 different customers. As others have noted, it was very light dependent. I found that their support and management were very arrogant. When I would report issues, it was always something that I did wrong or something changed. I would often have to prove that nothing had changed and after multiple complaints the issue would just magically be fixed. It was very expensive and was a hard sale to a customer. 

Zwipe's fingerprint biometric credential for access control faces 3 out of the 4 highlighted FST issues. Limited market interest due to price point, no support of iclass and an oversized credential resulted in them pulling back from the Access control market globally to reduce costs to focus primarily on fingerprint-based credit cards where Idemia pass right past them.

 

 

Preciate is a new venture...run by FST's CEO Naor and another FST executive.

”If at FST you don’t succeed...”

”If at FST you don’t succeed...”

...the you don't Preciate how difficult this industry is.

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