I was invited to work at Varian Associates as a by-product of work done for my MS research in Geophysics at nearby Stanford University (conceiving the vertical magnetic gradiometer and the use of Euler's Theorem for depth to magnetic basement). In 1968, after 6 years at Varian, I thought it was time to start my own company.
I wrote up a business plan that year and approached various private investors to raise a half-million dollars. I also spoke with the Varian CEO, Dr. Edward Ginzton, to inform him of what I was going to do, as these private investors would certainly check me out. Even after telling him that I would take a half-dozen fellow employees with me, he gave me tips on what venture capital investors to approach and gave me encouragement – as was the entrepreneurial thing to do, even then, in high-tech Silicon Valley.
We opened our doors on February 10, 1969 on Industrial Way, Palo Alto and remained there for five years, raising another half-million dollars from the same investors a year later. Our original plan was to manufacture magnetometers (much as we did at Varian), but add other geophysical instruments, such as gamma ray spectrometers and data acquisition systems and software and, later, perhaps getting into the airborne data acquisition business. We never raised any more monies and were cash positive and profitable within 18 months. The original founding employees were: Sheldon Breiner, William Jacobson, Tony McBride, Doug O'Brien, Alan Edberg and Robert Prindle. All but Jacobson had been employees of Varian.
We outgrew our space and moved to Moffett Industrial Park at 395 Java Drive, Sunnyvale. In 1976, after being approached by several firms, we accepted an offer from EG&G, then in oceanographic equipment and managing the nuclear test facility in Nevada and such businesses, to sell the company on a stock-for-stock transaction worth $5 million then and about $40 million in about three years. EG&G had been interested primarily as a tech entry into something related to energy, a hot topic at that time after the major oil-embargo a few years earlier. We pretty much kept our identity as Geometrics, subsidiary of EG&G, without a single person from the parent ever working at Geometrics – because we were cash-positive.
I departed in 1983, after finding and grooming my replacement.
In the early 1990s, when EG&G was no longer interested in anything energy, they suggested a management buy-out. Dr. Steve Duckett, then president, did just that. In 1997, we sold Geometrics to OYO, a billion dollars/year geotechnical services and products firm based in Tokyo.
Geometrics remains a division of OYO Corporation headquartered in San Jose, CA and is under the guidance of a forward-thinking, customer-focused management team.