Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hawaii’s high-tech darling, Hoku Scientific, now a Chinese-owned company

by Larry Geller

Well, the jobs were being created in Idaho anyway.

This company has been the high-tech media darling as long as I can remember.

Today, the Advertiser breaking news reports that it is a Hawaii company no more. It is now 60% owned by Tianwei New Energy Holdings Co., which can take 10% more for a total of 70% ownership. Details are in the Advertiser article.

There has long been a call for additional venture capital investment in Hawaii high-tech. Probably, many Hawaii-born companies would be good investments. This has nothing to do with jobs, however, although our state administration may be confused about this. Hoku is a great example. The jobs are at Hoku's Idaho polysilicon plant.

I don’t know if the takeover is good or bad for investors, but it’s immaterial for Hawaii. Bean counters will always win out, and if a company needs to move to the Mainland to be profitable, or to increase profit, it will do so. It will flee, no matter how much the CEO enjoys surfing, and no matter how much press coverage it is given.

The most durable high-tech business in Hawaii is promoting high-tech. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have some. We have some great companies here. It would be strange if we didn’t. We should re-think, though, whether simply offering tax credits will do the trick (it won’t), while our symphony rots and our schools fall far behind other states. Why would high-tech companies want to be here?

Well, the ocean is great, the tax credits feel good, and I guess the view from the Maui high-tech park, at the golf course up on the cliff,  is really spectacular. Ultimately, though, high-tech hasn’t worked out and we should re-think our priorities.

Our priorities should be to create jobs, not high-tech glitz.


Pitiful. Depressing state of affairs it has come to.
It isnʻt bad enough that Hawaii has a forced occupation and a sell out of everything Hawaiian to the U.S. but now itʻs a proxified sell-out and occupation concerning all things here not just this firm.

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