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 The Profit Prophet

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Anthony van

PostSubject: The Profit Prophet   Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:25 am

Chapter 2


The laboratory of Wafer Chip Research was in the bottom storey of a fairly new two level building in a Boston North technology park. Daniel met with Gavin, Max and Erin, his fellow researchers, as they reviewed the performance parameters of their vertical wafer 3-D chip.

Gavin summarised, “The patent has been finalised through Reuben.” He referred to their lawyers. “… and Erin is finalising a draft of a second application describing multiple layers of vertical wafers.”

“You having any troubles with that?” Daniel directed his question to the pretty, red headed chemical engineer; the youngest member of their team.

She looked up and batted the long lashes of her blue eyes. Being somewhat taken with Daniel, she resolved to sound confident and competent. “I’m waiting for the techies to finish the last round of current flow analysis on the vertical transistor wafer, but initial figures on the testing rig have been tabulated and are really promising.”

“What sort of comparison are we looking at?”

“Well, like for like, on the testing rig; thirty to forty per cent differentiation speed improvement – from cold to warm.”

“And remember,” enthused Max, “The single vertical wafer is itself consistently showing twenty five to thirty per cent performance improvement.”

“That’s confirmed, definite?” Daniel queried tautologically.

Gavin opted to answer as the others nodded. “It’s passed all the voltage and heat sink tests three times over standards.”

There were lots of smiles and everyone was upbeat as Max continued. “Preliminary stress and durability testing by Examchip also show our 3-D architecture is robust. It shouldn’t be too difficult to translate that to a mass production scenario.” He then post scripted, “Provided we can reproduce the sterile environment at a macro level.”

Daniel smiled. He wondered if Max could ever give a report without including the word ‘scenario’.

“This is all good; especially since two major chip producers have already started sounding us out for negotiations.”

“A few other interested parties have also contacted us as well,” inserted Gavin.

“So, you’re happy to sell the licence?” Erin asked, aware of his vacillation about the decision after all the time he had invested.

“You know,” he scrunched a smile as he made eye contact with Erin, “I’ve decided to let it go before we get bogged down in production issues, and concentrate working on the carbon nano tubes. If you guys are anything like me, it’s the innovation that gives me the buzz.”

“Is that the only reason?”

“We’d have to get bigger Erin, much bigger. Do you want Wafer Chip Research to get bigger, and move from development to production?”

Erin shifted uncomfortably as all eyes turned to her. “I don’t know. You’re the boss. I thought you might see this as an opportunity to expand.”

Daniel seemed to resolve something then. “Erin’s got a point. If you guys want to build the business around the vertical chip, I’ll sell my share. You can buy me out and I’ll start again, working on organics.”

There was instantly a storm of protest from all three.

“I didn’t mean…” began a flustered Erin.

“No, don’t be crazy,” inserted Gavin, “I love this breakthrough technology stuff. Let’s stick to the innovation approach. It’s paid off once now.”

“I agree,” concurred Max, “Production also means big investment and big risks. Let the big boys do that.”

Erin looked distraught, “I’m sorry Daniel. I didn’t mean that. I meant…” she was muddled now and wasn’t quite sure how to backtrack. “What I’m trying to say is, I’m really happy doing what we’re doing.”

“Great,” chuckled Daniel. “Let’s break for a coffee.” As they moved to the coffee machine Erin tried to clarify again. “I guess I was just saying what a lot of companies do … I really am happy here.” There was a little tear in her eye. Daniel gave her a hug and said firmly, “Erin, your job is safe. I don’t think less of you for speaking your mind. I expect you to say what you think.”

Gavin also gave her a reassuring pat on her back while Max expertly produced an espresso, a latte and two cappuccinos.



Two weeks had passed and Daniel was in his office going over the final copy of the successful patent submission. He had spoken to Reuben who had given the credit to their junior, Harrison Neills. The young Neills had done a science law degree and now handled their patent work. Reuben assured him that Arnold and he had reviewed the application. The lawyer had finished the conversation by reminding him that Arnold was available to advise on contract negotiations.

Daniel had his secretary file the paperwork and was in the adjoining office when a west coast multinational electronics corporation called to confirm a trial for his chip prototype. This meant that he needed to provide the optimum samples and printouts of specifications. He was still considering whether he would go to San Francisco himself or send Gavin when the phone rang again.

“Daniel Treloar,” he enunciated flatly.

“Daniel, it’s Naomi Stockton.”

“Hi Naomi.” As he said it he felt pleasantly cheered. “What can I do for you?”

 “Marcie has announced her first briefing at her LA outlet in the fashion district. It’s the day after tomorrow. I was wondering whether you could spare the time.”

“… Didn’t think you were interested in chasing after this quest.”

“Well, you’re right there … But … well … Marcie has managed to find information … personal stuff that I’ve been after for a while now. I know it sounds weird, but I feel Marcie is manipulating me in this.”

“Aunt Marcie? No.”  The sarcasm, purposely blatant, suddenly seemed too harsh. “Sorry, I’m venting my spleen from years of Marcie making certain recommendations to my father and Earl and me.”

She was taken aback for a moment. “So, does that mean you aren’t going?” Naomi’s voice came across uncertainly.

“No, no, I think we can arrange something. I could actually combine the trip with some business in San Francisco. Listen, can we meet for dinner tonight. I know it’s out of the blue. We can sort some things out.” In his mind he was processing – ‘I need to know what Marcie is up to; I have some questions for you too.’ But the thoughts were unspoken.

“Sounds ominous …” Daniel wasn’t sure if she was mocking him then. After an interlude of silence in which Daniel was furiously trying to think how he could reopen the conversation on a lighter level, her voice quavered, “So, what time are you picking me up?”

“Um, how about seven?”


“And you’re next door to Marcie’s, is that right?”

She assented, “Uh huh, the house on the left facing from the street,” she responded before curtailing the conversation with a practised salutation.




The drive to the north shore of the lake about seven miles north east of downtown Boston featured the prestigious homes of the well-to-do.  The house Naomi was in was not as resplendent as Marcie’s but it still qualified as large. Both belonged to Marcie and they could easily accommodate large families. It seemed that Naomi was just occupying the neat, white two story residence next to the larger fawn brick mansion that Marcie lived in until Marcie could sell it.

Standing at her door, Daniel wasn’t sure why he had asked Naomi out for dinner. There was something about her—something right about being with her. Either that or she was more devious than he could imagine. He drew his breath when he saw her. She wore an attractive strappy black dress that flared near the knee length hem line and a simple black velvet choker.

“Should I go more casual?” she asked self-consciously as she noted his jeans and open neck white shirt. A soft fragrance of citrus and flowers invaded his senses.

“No, no… you’re beautiful,” he managed haltingly.


They went to a quaint Italian pasta restaurant near the dock redevelopment. Little orange and red lanterns hung about and accordion music was piped around the timbered room.

“I’m sorry, it’s not very classy. I just like the atmosphere.”

“It’s lovely,” she smiled and he was entranced by the dimple that formed. They sat at a table in the corner alongside a large window that framed an idyllic view of distant tall buildings and nearer yachts; all with lights that reflected off the ruffled bay surface.

“I guess I just wanted to talk,” Daniel started as she looked intently at him. He jumped right in. “I guess I’m curious about what Marcie has over you that she can get you to do this stuff when you don’t really want to.”

Naomi’s eyes dropped. She suddenly registered his statement and bit her lip. She moved uncomfortably. “I feel a bit silly,” she said quaveringly, “You just want information?”

“No … I mean yes, but not just that. I wanted to have dinner with you … but I was curious too.” He paused. “I’m not doing a very good job of this am I?”

Naomi took a breath and looked at him more resolutely. “Well ask away, and I’ll see if I can answer your questions.”

Daniel decided then that he had probably ruined the night for her already. He tried a different tack.

“How about we order and I’ll tell you why I have issues with my Aunt Marcie. It’s up to you whether you want to share anything or not.”

“That’s very considerate of you.” Her words came with more venom than he thought she was capable of.

An uneasy silence hung over their secluded table. Naomi examined the crisp red and white check tablecloth as Daniel finished ordering for them. She was contemplating how her embarrassment had somehow mutated into anger with Daniel. She had been flattered that the successful young engineer with boyish good looks had so quickly asked her out. Now she was rebuking herself for her self-centredness.

When their food arrived they ate quietly, with occasional muted comments about the food, the location and the very unusual Aunt Marcie. Coffee and dessert cake was the signal for Daniel to muster his courage.

He began. “I want to tell you why I don’t get on with Marcie. A few years ago…probably closer to eight now that I think about it, my family was a fairly happy and stable one. Of course Earl and I had those usual brotherly fights—disagreements really—and, well, I guess that’s normal isn’t it?” Daniel didn’t wait for a response from Naomi. “Then Aunt Marcie started talking about her religion, first to my mother and then to my father. Well, my mother soon got really involved in the church, and, that was okay with us. Dad was totally involved in his practice—he is a GP—and we, Earl and I, were finishing our studies.”

“When Mum was diagnosed with cancer she started asking us to come to church with her. Earl, who had come back with his English bride from post grad studies in London, tried to support her. He and I went a couple of times, but Dad continued to go as Mum got sicker and sicker until she passed away.” Daniel spoke the words slowly and with effort as he stared into his half empty coffee cup. If he had looked at Naomi he would have seen her eyes glistening with tears.

“Soon after she died, Earl went back with his new wife to London to take up a position lecturing. Dad stopped going to Marcie’s church. He was angry, bitter, an absolute mess. I wasn’t much better. Then Aunt Marcie visited and strangely Dad started going to church again. Before I knew it everything changed for us. He told me he was going to do aid work in Mozambique.  He sold his practice and left.  Now Marcie seems to want to drag me into this new scheme of hers, and I’m a bit reluctant, as you can tell.”

“So, you blame Marcie for what’s happened?” Naomi gazed wide eyed at him with something like disbelief and then with growing compassion.

“No,” his voice was despondent. “No … it’s just … what business is it of hers what we do? We needed each other then and, instead, Dad leaves for Mozambique and eventually went into Ethiopia … Earl had already gone to London.”

Naomi placed a hand on his. “Did your dad just leave or did he talk it over?”

“Yeah, we did talk about it, quite a lot I guess, and he talked about doing something that mattered. He said Mum would have wanted that. We both agreed that he should do what he thought was right, but I couldn’t help thinking that Marcie was behind it all.”

“Now Marcie is back on the scene and you don’t like it,” surmised Naomi.

“Something like that.” He gave a wry grin. “So, what’s your story? How does Marcie have influence over you?”

Naomi sipped her coffee. “We seem to have a few things in common.” Her large brown eyes peered at him over the cup she was holding with two hands. “From what I’ve been told, my mother died at my birth. My father was a missionary and I was with him in Kenya till I was five. When he was called to do some work in—guess where?—Ethiopia.” She half smiled, “Spooky huh?” Naomi went on, “I was sent to an Aunt’s place. I later heard that Dad was caught up in a rebel attack while helping in a famine relief hospital. He was killed.” Her dull tone betrayed no emotion at all. She continued, “My Aunt looked after me till I was fifteen, up till when she started to have medical problems. I stayed for five years with a girlfriend’s family. That’s when Aunt Marcie, that’s what I always called her, that’s when she took me in. She has been a real support for me for quite a while. I was sort of her ward.”

She looked up at Daniel. Her eyes danced a little, some moisture still evident adding to their sparkle. “You can see that Marcie holds no demons for me.”

“So why are you doing this silly quest? That is, if you’ve got no interest?”

“You think I’m motivated by greed?” Naomi clunked her cup into its saucer and sharpened her scrutiny of Daniel.

“No, but Marcie has got you doing what she wants.”

She sighed and contorted her face, crinkle nose fashion, as her mind was occupied with constructing the next sentence.

“Marcie has located some relatives of my father; an uncle in LA and his sister in England, so I agreed to go to those places so I could visit them and, of course, her idea was to check out her possessions at the same time. I can find out about my personal history, about my father and his family, but don’t think I’m going to present a financial plan.”

Daniel nodded slowly, but he had no response. He felt a bit shallow complaining about his family situation when she had none to speak of. Naomi seemed uncomfortable too and so conversation dwindled until they switched talk to their upcoming flight.

After making arrangements to go to LA together, Daniel and Naomi got back into his sports car. She suggested that she pick him up in her Toyota rather than park his car at the airport for two days. Daniel was quite amenable to the idea as his yellow Porsche was a treasured toy. He drove past his two story town house to help Naomi with her navigation for their journey to the airport. He let her know that his office would organise the flight booking and hotel rooms.



The next day had Wafer Chip Research staff ensuring that all the sample 3-D chips were performing at or above the cited specs of their product abstract. The samples were safely packed in a briefcase for Daniel to take with him. Gavin talked to him at length about security arrangements. There was too much at stake to treat the samples as just another bit of luggage.

That afternoon he met with Arnold Worrell. He was the company lawyer that knew most about their business. Initial pleasantries took several minutes as progress on some documentation was flagged and some tasty commentary on poorly worded patents that had cost a west coast firm an electron beam etching procedure.

“That wouldn’t happen to us, would it Arnold?”

“Don’t worry Dan; your patent is rock solid. Our new guy is very thorough.”

Daniel nodded slowly. He was tempted to suggest that the lawyers of the other company had probably said the same thing, but he was restrained by the fact that Arnold hadn’t displayed a sense of humour in all the time he knew him. He moved on.

“So, did you do that research for me?”

His lawyer pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and humphed. “That quest description basically says that Marcie Dougall-Quentin can do anything she wants with her holdings, and the quest is just some sort of non-binding diversion.”

“So what’s your opinion?”

“Our opinion—I spoke with Reuben about it—and it’s just that, but we believe you are right; Naomi Stockton will most likely inherit everything. She has been involved in the business on occasions and is treated like a daughter. As to the purpose of the quest … no clear motive has been determined. ”

“Did you do an estimate of the value of the business and associated properties?”

Worrell flashed a quick self-satisfied smile before delivering his summation. “Our most conservative estimate was twenty five million, allowing for twenty per cent remaining in her control.” He elaborated, “We believe she will divest herself of the business but not her properties, which are quite dear to her.”

“Minimum of twenty five million …” Daniel whistled.

“Yes, Miss Stockton will be a wealthy girl.”
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