TrackingPoint Restructures & Relaunches

Back in May, things were looking grim for Austin-based TrackingPoint. The company, which manufactures Linux-powered smart rifles capable of nailing moving targets more than a thousand yards away, had posted a notice on its website saying that it stopped taking new orders. Multiple news sites began publishing stories saying that TrackingPoint had laid off half of its employees and was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.

Then this past Tuesday, TrackingPoint emerged from what it calls a period of “restructuring” and is once again taking orders. TrackingPoint founder John McHale is now in the role of CEO, and former CEO John Lupher stepped in as vice president of engineering (a role similar to where he was back in 2013 when Ars first wrote about TrackingPoint). Another former CEO, Frank Bruno, will become a Chief Operating Officer.

“The new TrackingPoint is really a clean start for the company,” McHale explained in a telephone interview with Ars on Wednesday. “We have invested $35 million in research and development, so that’s our core asset. And we’re relaunching, recapitalized, with financing from three large investors, including McHale Labs, which is my investment company.” The re-launched TrackingPoint will continue to focus on both civilian and military sales, and the company will have four main products: a large bolt-action rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, and three AR-15 carbines, chambered in 5.56mm NATO, 7.62mm NATO, and .300 AAC Blackout.

McHale tells Ars that the company’s apparent collapse and near-insolvency was a result of growing too quickly without effective planning and controls. “In the end, we had a massive inventory issue,” he said, elaborating that the company simply sank far too much capital into inventory and wound up with a glut of just about everything—from electronic components for the scope, to barrels and firearms, all the way down to screws.

“We had tremendous growth in 2014, and small companies oftentimes have growing pains where their systems and back-office systems and planning processes don’t keep up with growth,” said McHale. “And that’s what happened to us—in particular, our material planning systems were not adequate.”

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