Real D buys Boulder’s ColorLink

Boulder-based ColorLink, Inc. has been purchased by one of its leading customers, Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Real D. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

ColorLink — a privately held photonics company founded in 1995 by Gary Sharp (now the company’s chief technology officer) and former University of Colorado engineering professor Kristina Johnson — has developed a variety of polarization and color-management optical products, and holds numerous optics-related patents. Its recent products include polarizers that convert existing digital projectors to 3-D, and patented film-based filters that improve low-light vision in sports eyewear, sunglasses and ski goggles.

Real D is leading the charge to introduce three-dimensional projection equipment and movies to the entertainment industry. The 6-year-old company has deployed more than 700 three-dimensional movie projection systems in 14 countries and expects to have 1,000 screens in operation later this year.

Carmike Cinema, for instance, has committed to install 500 Real D screens by the end of 2007. Real D charges about $50,000 upfront and $25,000 yearly for each 3-D theater installation.

It also supplies stereoscopic technology to organizations such as NASA, Pfizer, BMW and Boeing for 3-D visualization uses. Viewers must wear special glasses to see movies and other images in 3-D.

The acquisition includes ColorLink’s R&D campus in Boulder as well as its manufacturing facilities in Tokyo and Shanghai. Real D also gains ownership of ColorLink’s patent portfolio, which covers optical, liquid crystal and light-based technologies.

“We have been working closely with ColorLink’s team for several years, and their approach to light management and design is truly revolutionary,” says Real D President Joshua Greer.

ColorLink will become a REAL D subsidiary, and ColorLink CEO Leo Bannon will become Real D’s chief operating officer. No word yet on how ColorLink’s Boulder employees will be affected.

For those keeping count, that’s two more Colorado tech companies purchased in the past week (see Picolight story below). It’s no fault of the entrepreneurs selling out, who have to make rational investment-exit decisions. But it’s hard to build a thriving, sustainable local tech economy when our best and brightest invariably end up taking orders from headquarters on the West Coast.

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One response to “Real D buys Boulder’s ColorLink

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