A mainland high-tech firm that announced in August it would move to Oahu has shelved the plan under unusual circumstances.
shelves Oahu move
By Tim Ruel
New York-based e-Smart Technologies Inc., a developer of miniature data-storage identity cards, was originally said to be negotiating a lease in Kakaako. The firm, led by noted Los Angeles corporate attorney Terry N. Christensen, said it wanted to open new headquarters in Honolulu and hire 50 engineers.
After the announcement, nothing developed here, observers said.
Following the events of Sept. 11, e-Smart said it was forming a new subsidiary, Homeland Defense Inc., to share security-identity cards with Akal Security Inc., a New Mexico firm that provides security at Honolulu Airport. Around the same time, e-Smart also hired a new accountant.
Then, in a Nov. 13 letter to shareholders, Christensen said e-Smart's planned expansion to China had been delayed by legal and geopolitical trouble, and that e-Smart was attempting to recruit a new management team.
E-Smart was formed in October 2000 when Las Vegas corporation Boppers Holdings Inc. bought smart-card maker e Smart Systems Inc. As part of the deal, the private Utah corporation that owned e Smart Systems, Intermarket Ventures Inc., took control of the new e-Smart company. Intermarket Ventures, now known as IVI Smart Technologies, also had problems with a Chinese telecommunications venture, Telpac Industries Inc.
Individual shareholders of e-Smart, some of them irate, were directed by Christensen's letter to an investment banking firm in Manhattan, where an operator takes messages. A message left by the Star-Bulletin yesterday was not returned.
Even e-Smart's public relations contact in Honolulu, McNeil Wilson Communications, said it has been in the dark since the initial publicity about the company's move to Hawaii.
"They kind of disappeared from our radar after they went back to New York," said Keith Rollman, vice president of McNeil Wilson's technology group. His impression was that the smart-card industry has been busy finding ways to capitalize on the heightened need for security in America.