crnc-10k_20200930.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 For the transition period from _______ to  ________

Commission File Number: 001-39030

 

CERENCE INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

83-4177087

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

15 Wayside Road

Burlington, Massachusetts

01803

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (857) 362-7300

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

CRNC

 

The Nasdaq Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES NO 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.  YES NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files).  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  YES  NO 

As of March 31, 2020, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $561,451,876 based on the closing price of the common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market for such date.

 

The number of shares of Registrant’s common stock outstanding as of November 12, 2020 was 37,426,832.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the Registrant’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K. Such Proxy Statement will be filed within 120 days of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended September 30, 2020.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

2

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

12

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

29

Item 2.

Properties

29

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

30

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

30

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

31

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

33

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

34

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

57

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

59

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

104

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

104

Item 9B.

Other Information

104

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

105

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

105

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

105

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

105

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

105

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

106

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

108

 

 

SIGNATURES

109

 

 

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CAUTIONARY STATEMENT CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Form 10-K, filed by Cerence Inc. together with its consolidated subsidiaries, “Cerence” or the “Company,” or “we,” “us” or “our” unless the context indicates otherwise, contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about our industry and our business and financial results. Forward-looking statements often include words such as “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “projects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “plans,” “continues,” “believes,” “may,” “will,” “goals” and words and terms of similar substance in connection with discussions of future operating or financial performance. As with any projection or forecast, forward-looking statements are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Our actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied in our forward-looking statements. Accordingly, undue reliance should not be placed on any forward-looking statement made by us or on our behalf. Although we believe that the forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K are based on reasonable assumptions, you should be aware that many factors could affect our actual financial results or results of operations and could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to:

 

the duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our business and financial performance;

 

adverse conditions in the automotive industry or the global economy more generally, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

our employees are represented by workers councils or unions or are subject to local laws that are less favorable to employers than the laws of the U.S.;

 

the highly competitive and rapidly changing market in which we operate;

 

our strategy to increase cloud services and fluctuations in our operating results;

 

escalating pricing pressures from our customers;

 

our failure to win, renew or implement service contracts;

 

the cancellation or postponement of service contracts after a design win;

 

the loss of business from any of our largest customers;

 

inability to recruit and retain qualified personnel;

 

cybersecurity and data privacy incidents that damage client relations;

 

economic, political, regulatory, foreign exchange and other risks of international operations;

 

unforeseen U.S. and foreign tax liabilities;

 

the failure to protect our intellectual property or allegations that we have infringed the intellectual property of others;

 

defects in our software products that result in lost revenue, expensive correction or claims against us;

 

our inability to quickly respond to changes in technology and to develop our intellectual property into commercially viable products;

 

a significant interruption in the supply or maintenance of our third-party hardware, software, services or data; and

 

certain factors discussed elsewhere in this Form 10-K.

These and other factors are more fully discussed in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections and elsewhere in this Form 10-K. These risks could cause actual results to differ materially from those implied by forward-looking statements in this Form 10-K. Even if our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity and the development of the industry in which we operate are consistent with the forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K, those results or developments may not be indicative of results or developments in subsequent periods.

Any forward-looking statements made by us in this Form 10-K speak only as of the date on which they are made. We are under no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any obligation to, update or alter our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events or otherwise, except as required by law.

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PART I

Item 1. Business.

Overview

Cerence builds AI powered virtual assistants for the mobility/transportation market. Our primary target is the automobile market, but our solutions can apply to all forms of transportation including but not limited to two-wheel vehicles, planes, tractors, cruise ships and elevators. Our solutions power natural conversational and intuitive interactions between vehicles, drivers and passengers, and the broader digital world. We are a premier provider of AI-powered assistants and innovations for connected and autonomous vehicles, including one of the world’s most popular software platforms for building automotive virtual assistants, such as “Hey BMW” and “Ni hao Banma”. Our customers include all major automobile original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, or their tier 1 suppliers worldwide, including BMW, Daimler, FCA Group, Ford, Geely, GM, Renault-Nissan, SAIC, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, Aptiv, Bosch, Continental, DENSO TEN and Harman. We deliver our solutions on a white-label basis, enabling our customers to deliver customized virtual assistants with unique, branded personalities and ultimately strengthening the bond between their brands and end users. Our vision is to enable a more enjoyable, safer journey for everyone.

Our platform utilizes industry-leading speech recognition, natural language understanding, speech signal enhancement, text-to-speech, and acoustic modeling technology to provide a conversational AI-based solution. Virtual assistants built with our platform can enable a wide variety of modes of human-vehicle interaction, including speech, touch, handwriting, gaze tracking and gesture recognition, and can support the integration of third-party virtual assistants into the in-vehicle experience.

Our software platform is a market leader for building integrated, branded and differentiated virtual assistants for automobiles. As a unified platform and common interface for automotive cognitive assistance, our software platform provides OEMs and suppliers with an important control point with respect to the mobility experience and their brand value. Our platform is fully customizable and designed to support our customers in creating their own ecosystem in the automobile and transforming the vehicle into a hub for numerous connected devices and services. Virtual assistants built with our software platform can address user requests across a wide variety of categories, such as navigation, control, media, communication and tools. Our software platform is comprised of edge computing and cloud-connected software components and a software framework linking these components together under a common programming interface. We implement our software platform for our customers through our professional services organization, which works with OEMs and suppliers to optimize our software for the requirements, configurations and acoustic characteristics of specific vehicle models.

The market for automotive cognitive assistance is rapidly expanding. The proliferation of smartphones and smart speakers has encouraged consumers to rely on a growing number of virtual assistants and special-purpose bots for various tasks such as controlling entertainment systems and checking the news. Automobile drivers and passengers increasingly expect hands-free access to virtual assistants as part of the mobility experience, with common use cases in a variety of categories including mobility domains such as navigation, voice-activated texts, and telephone communication, automobile domains, such as automobile user guides, and ignition on-off, and generic domains, such as entertainment. To meet the increasing demand for automotive cognitive assistance and to offer differentiated mobility experiences, OEMs and suppliers are building proprietary virtual assistants into an increasing proportion of their vehicles. We believe that this trend will continue and that consumer appetite for automotive cognitive assistance will grow further as vehicles become more autonomous and drivers pursue new forms of human-vehicle engagement previously not feasible during vehicle operation.

We generate revenue primarily by selling software licenses and cloud-connected services. In addition, we generate professional services revenue from our work with OEMs and suppliers during the design, development and deployment phases of the vehicle model lifecycle and through maintenance and enhancement projects. Through our over 20 years in the automotive industry, we have developed longstanding industry relationships and benefit from incumbency. We have existing relationships with all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers, and while our customer contracts vary, they generally represent multi-year engagements, giving us visibility into future revenue. We have master agreements or similar commercial arrangements in place with many of our customers, supporting customer retention over the long term.

As of September 30, 2020, we had fixed backlog of $387.5 million, which includes $325.1 million of estimated future revenue related to remaining performance obligations and $62.4 million of contractual commitments which have not yet been invoiced. As of September 30, 2020, we had variable backlog of $1.42 billion, which includes estimated future revenue from variable forecasted royalties related to our embedded and connected businesses.  Our estimation of forecasted royalties is based on our royalty rates for embedded and connected technologies from expected car shipments under our existing contracts over the term of the programs. Anticipated shipments are based on historical shipping experience and current customer projections that management believes are reasonable as of the date of this Form 10-K. Both our embedded and connected technologies are priced and sold on a per-vehicle or device basis, where we receive a single fee for either or both the embedded license and the connected service term. However, our fixed and variable backlog may not be indicative of our actual future revenue. The revenue we actually recognize is subject to several factors, including the number and timing of vehicles our customers ship, potential terminations or changes in scope of customer contracts, and currency fluctuations. As of September 30, 2020, we estimate our total backlog to be $1.81 billion, including $387.5 million of fixed backlog and $1.42 billion of variable backlog.

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Our solutions have been installed in more than 325 million automobiles to date, including over 38 million new vehicles in fiscal 2020 alone. Based on royalty reports provided by our customers and third-party reports of total vehicle production worldwide, we estimate that approximately 53% of all shipped cars during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020 included Cerence technologies. Cerence hybrid solutions shipped on approximately 7.4 million vehicles during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020. In aggregate, over 65 automobile brands worldwide use our solutions, covering over 70 languages and dialects, including English, German, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese.

In fiscal 2020, we generated revenue of $329.6 million, an increase of 8.7% compared to $303.3 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2019. We recorded a net loss of $20.6 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, a decrease of 120.6% compared to net income of $100.3 million recorded for the fiscal year ended September 30. 2019. For fiscal years 2019 and 2018, our business was wholly-owned by Nuance Communications, Inc., (“Nuance”), and our results for those fiscal years may not reflect what our results would have been had we been an independent, publicly traded company during those fiscal years. In addition, the financial information included herein may not necessarily reflect our results of operations in the future.

History and Corporate Information

On October 1, 2019 (which we refer to as the “Distribution Date”), Nuance, a leading provider of speech and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world, completed the legal and structural separation and distribution to its stockholders of all of the outstanding shares of our common stock, and its consolidated subsidiaries, in a tax free spin-off (which we refer to as the Spin-Off). The distribution was made in the amount of one share of our common stock for every eight shares of Nuance common stock (which we refer to as the “Distribution”) owned by Nuance’s stockholders as of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 17, 2019, the record date of the Distribution.

In connection with the Distribution, on September 30, 2019, we filed an Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, or the Charter, with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware, which became effective on October 1, 2019. Our Amended and Restated By-laws also became effective on October 1, 2019. On October 2, 2019, our common stock began regular-way trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol CRNC. 

Our principal executive offices are located at 15 Wayside Road, Burlington, Massachusetts 01803 and our telephone number at that address is (857) 362-7300. Our website is www.cerence.com. We are not including the information contained in our website as part of, or incorporating it by reference into, this Form 10-K. We make available free of charge through our website our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file these materials with, or otherwise furnish them to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. The SEC maintains an Internet website (https://www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.

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Our Capabilities

Our mission is to empower the transportation ecosystem with digital platform solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles. We deliver automotive cognitive assistance solutions that are conversational and intuitive and that enable OEMs to strengthen the emotional connection with their end users through a distinct, consistent, branded experience. We continue to extend these solutions to two-wheel vehicles and tractors and other transportation means. Our principal offering is our software platform, which our customers use to build virtual assistants that can communicate, find information and take action across an expanding variety of categories, including navigation, control, media, communication, information and tools. Our software, developed in deep partnership with the automotive industry, improves the mobility experience for drivers and passengers all over the world.

 

 

User engagement with virtual assistants built with our software platform typically begins with a voice request. Upon receiving such an input, our software platform determines what the user has said, infers user intent, and maps the request to the most applicable category and domain. Depending on the applicable domain, our software platform determines whether to respond directly or access an external data source or third-party virtual assistant, in all cases resulting in a response including spoken words or taking action. Depending on the complexity of the request and other factors, engagement may consist of multiple rapid voice interactions with the user and may combine assistance in multiple domains.

Our software platform offers a hybrid architecture combining edge software components, which are embedded in a vehicle’s head unit and integrated with onboard systems, with cloud-connected components, which access data and content on external networks and support over-the-air updates. This hybrid architecture enables our software platform to combine the performance, reliability, efficiency, security and tight vehicular integration of embedded software with the flexibility that cloud connectivity provides. Response frameworks can generally be customized such that requests are processed first at the edge, controlling cloud transmission costs, or in parallel at the edge and in the cloud, to achieve higher confidence responses with low latency. Through edge computing capabilities, the platform is able to provide certain features, such as wake up words, while avoiding privacy and latency issues associated with always-listening cloud-connected technologies. Our software platform includes a common programming framework including toolkits and applications for its edge and cloud-connected components, and our customers can choose the software components that are necessary to power the experiences that they want to build and offer.

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Cerence Platform Framework - Hybrid Architecture

 

We deliver our software platform through our professional services organization, which works with OEMs and suppliers to tailor it to the desired requirements, configurations and acoustic characteristics of specific vehicle models. For an initial implementation, our professional services engagements typically begin with the porting of our key technologies to the customer’s specific hardware and software platforms and the development of specific dialogues and grammar libraries. Our professional services teams also work with OEMs on acoustic optimization of a system and application of our audio signal processing technologies. Following an initial implementation, our professional services organization may continue to provide services over the course of a head unit program and vehicle model lifecycle through maintenance and enhancement engagements.

Edge Software Components

Our software platform’s edge software components are installed on a vehicle’s head unit and can operate without access to external networks and information. We tailor our edge software components to a customer’s desired use cases and a vehicle model’s unique systems, sensors and data interfaces.

Capabilities of our edge software components include automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding, noise cancellation, driver and passenger voice isolation, voice biometrics, wake-up word and text-to-speech synthesis, as well as certain non-speech technologies such as gaze, gesture and touch input. Our software can support more than 70 languages. Edge deployment suits these technologies as it provides the following functionality and benefits:

 

Performance. Processing at the edge is often necessary to meet the low latency requirements of natural conversation.

 

Vehicle Systems Integration. Vehicle applications, sensors, and data interfaces can be integrated deeply with embedded systems.

 

Availability. Edge-located systems are available regardless of cellular coverage and network connectivity.

 

Reduced cost. Processing at the edge reduces or eliminates cellular data transmission costs.

 

Privacy. Users’ utterances and system outputs processed at the edge remain onboard and can immediately be purged.

Certain forms of assistant speech invocation can only be implemented using edge software. The use of wake-up words like “Hey BMW” and “Ni hao Banma” require constant listening and signal processing to identify instances when a virtual assistant should activate and respond. The same requirements apply to our new JustTalk technology, which constantly listens to spoken conversation, determines speaker intent, and invokes assistance appropriately without requiring a specific invocation phase. The alternative of sending a constant stream of audio from the car interior to the cloud for processing would require enormous amounts of bandwidth and potentially create privacy concerns.

We typically sell our edge software components under a traditional per unit perpetual software license model, in which a per unit fee is charged for each software instance installed on an automotive head unit. Our customers generally provide estimates of the units to be shipped for a particular program, and we review third-party market studies and work with our customers to refine and

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understand these projections. While these projections provide us with some reasonable visibility into future revenue, the number of units to be shipped for a particular program is not committed upfront.

Cloud-Connected Components

Our software platform’s cloud-connected components are comprised of certain speech and natural language understanding related technologies, AI-enabled personalization and context-based response frameworks, and content integration platforms. Our cloud-connected speech-related technologies perform many of the same tasks as our speech-related edge components while offering enhanced functionality through increased computational power and access to external content. Cloud-connected components also support the replication of personalized settings such as voice profiles and preferences across multiple vehicles.

We offer cloud-connected components in the form of a connected service to the vehicle end user. Initial subscriptions typically have multi-year terms from the time of a vehicle’s sale and are paid in advance by the OEM or supplier. Renewal options vary and are managed by our customers on behalf of vehicle end users.

Virtual Assistant Coexistence

The wide variety of use cases encompassed by automotive cognitive assistance, in the context of evolving consumer preferences, necessitates the coexistence of multiple virtual assistants within the in-vehicle environment. For example, many vehicle-related categories such as navigation and control can best be addressed by a tightly integrated, vehicle-model-specific virtual assistant. At the same time, drivers and passengers often prefer to use familiar Internet-based virtual assistants for more general domains such as entertainment.

To enable drivers and passengers to extend their digital life from outside the vehicle to inside the vehicle, our software platform can support the integration of third-party virtual assistants, providing a uniform interface for virtual assistant engagement. We have invested in our platform to develop the technology and capabilities necessary to integrate third party virtual assistants with vehicles’ systems.

To make integration as seamless as possible, we have built cognitive arbitration technology that is capable of inferring user intent, determining which within a set of virtual assistants would be best suited to address a request, and sending the request to the selected assistant thus enabling users to extend their digital life into the automobile. Depending on a system’s configuration and the virtual assistants to which it is connected, output can be presented back to the user through a vehicle-specific personality or through the virtual assistant’s own interface. Cognitive arbitration represents an important control point with respect to the mobility experience and an important brand differentiation opportunity for OEMs and suppliers. Like the rest of our software platform, cognitive arbitration is a white label product that can be customized and branded.

Along with providing OEMs control over their brand identity, our cognitive arbitration technology is an important element in letting an OEM design the overall driver and passenger experience. This technology allows an OEM to dictate interactions with third-party virtual assistants within the vehicle, strengthening its ability to differentiate and control the overall in-vehicle experience.

Professional Services

We have a large professional services team that works with our customers in the design, development and deployment phases of a vehicle head unit program and vehicle model lifecycle, as well as in maintenance and enhancement engagements. Our range of capabilities include personalization of grammar and natural language understanding development, localization, language selection and system coverage, navigation speech data generation, system prompt recordings, porting our platform’s framework and our ability to deploy cognitive arbitration technologies, and user experience reviews and studies. Our professional services team is globally distributed to serve our customers in their primary design and production jurisdictions. We typically charge manufacturers for our design and consulting work, which are primarily project-based, in line with customary non-recurring engineering industry practices.

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Our Competitive Strengths

Our key competitive strengths include:

 

Industry-leading speech-related technology. Our research shows that consumers see speech as an increasingly attractive medium for human-vehicle interaction. Nevertheless, they are often frustrated with speech recognition solutions that misunderstand spoken language or require users to speak rigid, pre-defined commands associated with a limited set of functions. Developing conversation-based automotive virtual assistants that users will perceive as natural is challenging as a matter of artificial intelligence technology, acoustic engineering and user interface design. We believe our software platform, as tailored for a specific vehicle model by our professional services organization, represents one of the most technologically advanced and highest-performing human-vehicle speech interaction systems available today. In tests performed by our customers to assess correct recognition of words, sentences, and domains, our solutions have achieved some of the highest marks relative to competitors and our offerings are backed by our portfolio of patents and associated rights.

 

Hybrid edge-cloud system architecture. Our software platform’s hybrid architecture combines the performance, reliability and tight integration that only edge software can provide with the flexibility of cloud connectivity. Cloud-reliant solutions with which our software platform competes cannot match edge software’s low latency, its bandwidth efficiency or its availability in the absence of network connectivity. Moreover, emerging speech invocation paradigms such as wake up words and situationally aware invocation are most effectively implemented using edge technology.

 

Bespoke vehicle integration and acoustic tuning. Cognitive assistance for categories such as navigation, entertainment and control requires tight integration with onboard vehicle components, which vary widely among vehicle models. Separately, speech interaction systems can be significantly hampered by the noisy environment of a vehicle cabin and must be tuned for particular acoustics and audio system components. To achieve the tight vehicle integration necessary to address these concerns, our professional services team works closely with OEMs and suppliers to customize our offerings for the particular characteristics of specific vehicle models. Our expertise in acoustics enables us to implement systems that can isolate the voices of individual speakers and support simultaneous virtual assistance for speakers in multiple zones, representing a key point of differentiation.

 

Interoperability with third-party Internet-based virtual assistants. Virtual assistants from large technology companies have become popular with consumers. We believe that consumers want to extend the use of these assistants while traveling in their vehicles and that a comprehensive automotive cognitive assistance system requires the coexistence of multiple virtual assistants. To accommodate their end user preferences while still providing a unique and brand-specific experience, OEMs seek to offer a common in-vehicle interface with seamless integration across various virtual assistants. To this end, our software platform can support the coexistence of multiple third-party virtual assistants and provide a uniform interface for virtual assistant engagement. Our market-leading position, our focus on the automotive market and the large size of our installed base create incentives for third party virtual assistant providers to work with us and support this integration.

 

Independence from large technology companies and automobile industry players. As vehicles become more autonomous, mobility experiences are being increasingly defined by in-cabin features and alternative forms of human-vehicle engagement. Branded, differentiated automotive cognitive assistance is thus increasingly important to OEMs’ brand value. As a neutral, independent, white-label software platform vendor, we empower our customers to build branded and differentiated experiences and retain ownership of, or rights to, their system design and data. The virtual assistant coexistence enabled by our cognitive arbitration functionality is designed to allow our customers to provide access to third-party virtual assistants without ceding overall control of the cognitive assistance experience.

 

OEM alignment. The design and development of the head unit within the vehicle ecosystem is a complex process requiring tight integration of the software and hardware components used in and with the vehicle. We believe our demonstrated long-standing capabilities in working closely with OEMs, understanding their needs, product roadmaps and global go-to-market strategies enables us to innovate our technologies to meet an OEM’s specifications. Furthermore, our working relationships with OEMs uniquely allow us to market and sell our solutions on both a local and global basis in accordance with an OEM’s particular requirements.

 

Broad language coverage. Our software platform supports over 70 languages and dialects, far more than any of our competitors. As a result of our broad language support, our customers are already delivering cognitive assistance based on our software platform in over 60 countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia, including China, the U.S. and all other large automotive markets. Our language support also enables multi-lingual capabilities for domains such as music selection, point-of-interest selection, and cross-border navigation among others, representing a critical feature for markets such as Continental Europe in which automobiles may routinely traverse multiple lingual zones. We believe that our portfolio of languages and multi-lingual capabilities represent an important competitive advantage, as the development of capabilities to support a new language is expensive and time-consuming.

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Broad, global network of deep relationships with OEMs and tier 1 suppliers. We have supplied speech recognition systems to OEMs and suppliers for over 20 years, working closely with our customers through our global professional services organization to design and integrate our solutions into their brands. Today, we work with all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers worldwide, leveraging the geographic breadth and industry experience of our professional services teams. Our long history in the automotive industry and the global reach and experience of our over 400 professional services employees across 12 countries gives us credibility with OEMs as we seek new business with OEMs, either directly or through their tier 1 suppliers. We believe that OEMs who sell globally will value our experience in servicing and deploying solutions on a global basis. We often have master agreements or similar commercial arrangements with our customers. These master agreements help us retain customer relationships over the long term.

Our Growth Strategies

 

 

 

We believe our growth opportunity has three key facets: continued investment in expending our core technology, development of new applications that extend our core technology into innovative applications, and expansion of our target market beyond automobiles. Successful execution of these key objectives could lead to the greater penetration of our offerings and key enabling technologies throughout our target markets, resulting in an increase in the revenue we are able to capture per vehicle and expansion of our market share relative to competitors.

Our primary strategies for pursuing our growth include the following:

 

Maintain and extend product leadership. We intend to continue investing in developing our core product functionality and expanding the breadth of categories and domains our software platform is able to address, particularly with a view toward maintaining our market share in edge software components and growing our share in cloud-connected software functionalities. Our existing relationship with, and our proximity in the design process to, OEMs provides us with insight into the needs of the end-users and roadmaps for innovation. For instance, this insight has helped us identify and advance our technologies for autonomous driving systems, which technologies have been incorporated in solutions currently under development. Additionally, we intend to continue to invest in customizing and supporting our solutions for specific individual automobile vehicle models, resulting in tight integration of our solutions. We believe that increasing complexity of our edge software components, including with respect to multi-modal interaction, and growth in our cloud-connected product areas, including the enabling of third-party services, will enable us to increase the revenue per vehicle that we are able to generate. Additionally, these investments will help maintain our position with existing customers through new vehicle models and enable us to grow with the overall market for automotive cognitive assistance.

 

Continue to invest in interoperability with third-party virtual assistants. We believe that the growing popularity of third-party virtual assistants is creating increasing demand for access to these assistants as part of the mobility experience. We also believe that complete automotive cognitive assistance requires the coexistence of multiple virtual assistants. We intend to continue to invest to develop our software platform’s interoperability with third-party virtual assistants and its cognitive

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arbitration capabilities to maintain its position as a neutral automotive cognitive assistance platform. We believe a neutral automotive cognitive assistance platform will increasingly be valued by OEMs that prioritize maintaining their unique and branded in-car experience and the ability to control the mobility experience overall.

 

Deliver new functionality to existing installed base. Our solutions have been installed in over 325 million vehicles to date. Our large installed base represents an opportunity to deliver new features and software. Depending on system capabilities, we are able to deliver updated functionality to our users in the form of embedded software upgrades performed by dealers and over-the-air updates delivered from the cloud.

 

Develop products that leverage our expertise in new applications. We have developed are developing new products that leverage our expertise in voice-AI into new applications that will be distinct from our Edge or Cloud-connected product offerings. These new applications are expected to generate revenue using either a subscription or transaction-based model extending the company’s market opportunity into new areas. Two of the new applications developed during fiscal year 2020 are Cerence Pay and Car Life. Cerence Pay offers a secure, contactless payment experience for drivers via voice and facial biometrics. Cerence Car Life is a suite of AI-powered, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings that provides drivers with up-to-date information about their cars via a companion application, voice output from the automotive assistant, and imagery displayed on the car’s infotainment system.  

 

Expand into adjacent transportation markets. Today we primarily target the automobile market. However, our products and technology also have application to other modes of transportation. Any type of vehicle that moves people are potential applications for our technology. We have developed some initial business in the two-wheel vehicle and tractor markets and have explored opportunities in the cruise ship and elevator markets. In total, we believe these adjacent markets represent an important growth opportunity.

Competition

The automobile cognitive assistance market is competitive. Today, we face two primary sets of competitors:

 

Large technology companies. Many large technology companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, offer Internet-based virtual assistants. Given the popularity in general of these virtual assistants, we believe that automobile drivers and riders increasingly desire the ability to use them as part of the mobility experience. To meet this demand, some of these companies have invested in technologies, such as Apple CarPlay, to make their virtual assistants more accessible within vehicle cabins.

While these third-party virtual assistants directly compete with some of the functionality we provide as part of our software platform, they also increase the need for our software platform in two ways. First, given the fragmented and competitive nature of the virtual assistant market, it is important for OEMs and suppliers to enable their passengers to utilize a variety of virtual assistants. Our software platform’s cognitive arbitration functionality can, dependent on appropriate third-party agreements, enable OEMs and suppliers to provide access to multiple third-party virtual assistants through a consistent, branded interface. Second, the noisy environment of a vehicle cabin presents significant speech processing challenges for smartphone-based third-party virtual assistants that are not designed for a specific vehicle model. Our software platform integrates with third-party virtual assistants and improves their functionality by improving the quality of speech input.

 

Small, focused competitors. We compete for business directly with certain companies focused on voice-based virtual assistance, including SoundHound in the U.S., iFlyTek in China, and other regional and technology-focused competitors. These companies have had some success selling into our customer base. However, we believe that we have multiple meaningful competitive advantages, including our scale, our globally distributed team, our best-in-class portfolio of compatible languages, and our deep focus on the automotive market. We also believe that our technology, particularly our speech signal enhancement and acoustic tuning, is superior based on benchmarking results against our competitors. We believe we will continue to be able to compete successfully against these competitors as we continue to invest in our offerings.

Our industry has attracted, and may continue to attract, new entrants. Although we find that OEMs often prefer to maintain relationships with suppliers that have a proven record of performance, they also rigorously reevaluate suppliers on the basis of product quality, price, reliability and timeliness of delivery, product design capability, technical expertise and development capability, new product innovation, financial viability, operational flexibility, customer service and overall management.

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Technology

Our software platform’s edge and cloud-connected software components are based on a number of proprietary technologies. We customize these technologies for specific vehicle models and continuously update and improve our features and functionality. Our key technologies include but are not limited to the following:

 

Speech Signal Enhancement. A high-quality voice input signal is a precondition to reliable speech recognition and cognitive assistance. However, in a typical vehicle cabin, ambient interior sounds and noise from around the vehicle mix with infotainment system output and conversations between passengers, create a complex soundscape that can obscure virtual assistant requests. Audio signal processing technologies are therefore critical to the cognitive assistance experience. We have been developing and combining highly advanced audio signal enhancement technologies for over 20 years, and we tune our software in relation to the placement of microphones in a vehicle to create defined acoustic zones and support the isolation of individual speakers. Our technologies deliver best-in-class speech recognition results, as evidenced by tests performed by our customers to assess correct recognition of words, sentences, and domains, in which our solutions have achieved some of the highest marks relative to competitors.

 

Automatic Speech Recognition. Our speech recognition technology, built using neural networks and specifically designed for automotive applications, is recognized as the automotive industry leader in automatic speech recognition. We support over 70 languages and dialects, representing the largest language portfolios in the speech industry. Key features of our speech recognition technology include free-form conversational interpretation, as opposed to a rigid system of predefined commands, and barge-in capabilities, enabling users to correct and modify their requests in the middle of stating them.

 

Natural Language Understanding. Once speech has been captured and accurately converted into words, natural language understanding technology, or NLU, is necessary to match the request to the appropriate category and domain to interpret the user’s intent. Our NLU system applies artificial intelligence reasoning, including predefined and learned preferences and real-time contextual information, to deliver informative responses consistent with what a user desires. NLU processing is performed by a hybrid of edge and cloud-connected software components to optimize performance, efficiency, reliability and security.

 

Vocalizer: Text-to-Speech and Natural Language Generation. In many cases, the most useful result of a spoken query or command is a spoken response back to the user. To enable cognitive assistants to speak, we offer text-to-speech technology in more than 60 languages and dialects and over 140 distinct voices. We also have developed the technology to read text using human-like inflection and emotion, as well as, offer custom voices for customers who wish to differentiate themselves through an exclusive personality representing their brand.

 

Voice Biometrics. Our software platform includes biometric functionality which can authenticate and personalize the automotive experience by recognizing users based on their voice and automatically load individual preferences and other automotive settings.

 

Push-to-Talk, Wake-Up Words and Just Talk. Through our software platform, we are capable of offering three methods for invoking the virtual assistant, which can be implemented alone or in combination:

 

Push-to-Talk, functionality, most commonly implemented as a button on the steering wheel or center console.

 

Wake-Up Word, functionality, involving a spoken keyword or phrase, such as “Hey BMW.”

 

Just Talk. Our active listening technology, introduced in 2017, filters out background noise and irrelevant conversation until it hears a keyword, phrase, or command that it understands as related to an applicable domain and which is intended as a virtual assistant request. False triggers are minimized through sophisticated syntax, cadence and intonation analysis performed in real-time and can be further reduced using automobile sensors such as head or body movement trackers.

 

Cognitive Arbitration. Our cognitive arbitration technology can route arbitrary requests to the most appropriate virtual assistant or bot, including third-party virtual assistants.

 

Non-Speech, Multimodal Input. Our technology seeks to mimic conversational human interaction by incorporating input methods beyond speech. Our multimodal capabilities allow vehicle systems to accept multiple forms of input such as voice, gestures, gaze, predictive text and handwriting.

 

Multi-Seat Intelligence. Due to its flexible design, our speech signal enhancement technology can be easily configured for complex multi-zone scenarios with various users and nearly arbitrary microphone configurations. Dedicated processing modes enable efficient and robust multi-user speech recognition in challenging acoustical environments. This allows for passenger interaction in individual zones like sharing music or interacting simultaneously with the car or infotainment systems, where some passengers can enjoy browsing their music by speech, while others can send emails or other work-related activities.

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Research and Development

We maintain technical engineering centers in major regions of the world that help develop our software platform and its underlying components and provide our customers with local engineering capabilities and design development.

We employ approximately 800 research and development personnel around the world, including scientists, engineers and technicians. Our total research and development expenses were approximately $88.9 million, $93.1 million and $81.0 million for fiscal 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

We believe that continued investment in research and development will be critical for us to continue to deliver market-leading solutions for automotive cognitive assistance. Accordingly, we intend to continue to invest in our product portfolio and allocate capital and resources to our growth opportunities.

Customers

Our customers include all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers worldwide. Our automobile manufacturer customers, commonly referred to as OEMs, include BMW, FCA Group, Ford, Daimler, Geely, Renault-Nissan, SAIC, Toyota, Volkswagen Group and many others and represented approximately 56% of our sales in fiscal 2020. Our largest customer, Toyota, represented approximately 23% of our revenue in fiscal 2020. Our tier 1 supplier customers, who typically sell automobile components to the OEMs, include Aptiv, Bosch, Continental, DENSO TEN, Harman and many others and represented approximately 44% of our business in fiscal year 2020.

Our revenue base is geographically diverse. In fiscal 2020, approximately 39%, 38% and 23% of our revenue came from the Americas, Europe and Asia, respectively.

Sales and Marketing and Professional Services

We market our offerings using a high-touch OEM solutions model. We sell directly to our customers, which include OEMs and suppliers and are described in “—Customers,” and for each of our customers we assign a team comprising sales and marketing as well as professional services personnel. Our customer contracts are bespoke and vary widely, but generally represent multi-year agreements providing visibility into future revenue and helping to support retention of customer relationships over the long term.

Our sales and marketing team includes approximately 100 employees. This team includes sales representatives, account managers, sales engineers, product managers and marketing experts. As we sell our offerings to all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers today, our sales strategy is primarily focused on leveraging our existing customer relationships. Account managers typically have longstanding relationships with specific customers and are distributed worldwide to provide local customer coverage. We oftentimes utilize customer-specific demo days and proof-of-concepts (“POCs”) in which we showcase our technology and capabilities to OEMs and tier 1 suppliers on an individual basis. These events help maintain our market presence and awareness of our platform’s offerings while also providing opportunities to solicit feedback and input from our customers on our roadmap and future technologies.

Our professional services organization includes approximately 400 employees. These employees work with our customers in the design phase of the vehicle lifecycle to tailor our platform for specific requirements such as branding and also tune the software for the characteristics of a vehicle model. Our professional services team also provides post-design phase services through maintenance engagements, particular with respect to our cloud-connected solutions. The tight integration of our platform into our customers’ design process and their vehicles supports our ability to win future business with those customers. Like our sales representatives, our professional services employees often have longstanding relationships with specific customers and are distributed worldwide to provide local customer coverage.

Employees

As of September 30, 2020, we had approximately 1,500 full-time employees, including approximately 100 in sales and marketing, approximately 200 in administrative functions, approximately 400 in professional services, and approximately 800 in research and development. Approximately 90% of our employees are based outside of the United States. None of our employees in the United States are represented by a labor union, however many of our employees in Europe are represented by workers councils or labor unions. We believe that our relationships with our employees are satisfactory.

Intellectual Property

We own approximately 1,035 patents and patent applications and other intellectual property. Prior to our Spin-Off from Nuance, we entered into the Intellectual Property Agreement, which provides us with certain non-exclusive rights with respect to patents that will continue to be held by Nuance. While no individual patent or group of patents, taken alone, is considered material to our business, in the aggregate, these patents and rights provide meaningful protection for our products, technologies, and technical innovations.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

You should carefully consider all of the information in this Form 10-K and each of the risks described below, which we believe are the material risks that we face. Some of the risks relate to our business, others to our intellectual property and technology, and the consequences of the Spin-Off. Some risks relate to the securities markets, our indebtedness and ownership of our common stock. Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this Form 10-K.

Risk Factor Summary

Risks Relating to Our Business

 

Pandemics or disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, have disrupted, and may continue to disrupt, our business, which could adversely affect our financial performance.

 

The market in which we operate is highly competitive and rapidly changing and we may be unable to compete successfully.

 

Adverse conditions in the automotive industry or the global economy more generally could have adverse effects on our results of operations.

 

Our strategy to increase cloud connected services may adversely affect our near-term revenue growth and results of operations.

 

Pricing pressures from our customers may adversely affect our business.

 

We invest effort and money seeking OEMs’ validation of our technology, and there can be no assurance that we will win or be able to renew service contracts, which could adversely affect our future business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Our business could be materially and adversely affected if we lost any of our largest customers.

 

Our operating results may fluctuate significantly from period to period, and this may cause our stock price to decline.

 

We may not be successful with the adoption of new applications.

 

Some of our employees represented by workers councils or unions or are subject to local laws that are less favorable to employers than the laws of the U.S.

 

Cybersecurity and data privacy incidents or breaches may damage client relations and inhibit our growth.

 

A significant portion of our revenues and research and development activities originate outside the United States. Our results could be harmed by economic, political, regulatory, foreign currency fluctuations and other risks associated with these international regions.

 

Our business in China is subject to aggressive competition and is sensitive to economic, market and political conditions.

 

Interruptions or delays in our services or services from data center hosting facilities or public clouds could impair the delivery of our services and harm our business.

 

If our goodwill or other intangible assets become impaired, our operating results could be negatively impacted.

 

Tax matters may cause significant variability in our financial results and may impact our overall financial condition.

Risks Relating to our Intellectual Property and Technology

 

Third parties have claimed and may claim in the future that we are infringing their intellectual property, and we could be exposed to significant litigation or licensing expenses or be prevented from selling our products if such claims are successful.

 

Unauthorized use of our proprietary technology and intellectual property could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Our software products may have bugs, which could result in delayed or lost revenue, expensive correction, liability to our customers and claims against us.

 

We may be unable to respond quickly enough to changes in technology and technological risks and to develop our intellectual property into commercially viable products.

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We utilize certain key technologies, content and services from, and integrate certain of our solutions with, third parties and may be unable to replace those technologies, content and services if they become obsolete, unavailable or incompatible with our solutions.

Risks Relating to the Spin-Off

 

If the Spin-Off were determined not to qualify as tax-free for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we could have an indemnification obligation to Nuance, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have agreed to numerous restrictions to preserve the non-recognition treatment of the Spin-Off, which may reduce our strategic and operating flexibility.

 

We may be unable to achieve some or all of the benefits that we expect to achieve from the Spin-Off.

 

We are an emerging growth company, and any decision on our part to comply only with certain reduced reporting and disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies could make our common stock less attractive to investors.

 

Our historical combined financial information is not necessarily representative of the results we would have achieved as an independent, publicly traded company.

 

We may have potential business conflicts of interest with Nuance with respect to our past and ongoing relationships.

 

A certain director may have actual or potential conflicts of interest because of their financial interests in Nuance.

 

The allocation of intellectual property rights and data between Nuance and Cerence as part of the Spin-Off, could adversely impact our reputation, our ability to enforce certain intellectual property rights that are important to us and our competitive position.

Risks Relating to Our Securities and Indebtedness

 

Our stock price may fluctuate significantly.

 

The terms of the Senior Credit Facilities restrict our current and future operations, particularly our ability to incur debt that we may need to fund initiatives in response to changes in our business, the industry in which we operate, the economy and governmental regulations.

 

We may evaluate whether to pay cash dividends on our common stock in the future, and the terms of our Senior Credit Facilities limit our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.

 

Servicing our debt may require a significant amount of cash. We may not have sufficient cash flow from our business to pay our indebtedness.

 

The conditional conversion feature of the Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations and the value of our common stock.

 

The accounting method for convertible debt securities that may be settled in cash, such as the Notes, could have a material effect on our reported financial results.

 

The commercial and credit environment may adversely affect our access to capital.

 

Certain provisions in our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Amended and Restated By-Laws and Delaware law may discourage takeovers.

 

Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation will designate the courts of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes.

 

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, our ability to produce accurate and timely financial statements could be impaired and investors’ views of us could be harmed.

Risks Relating to Our Business

Pandemics or disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, have disrupted, and may continue to disrupt, our business, which could adversely affect our financial performance.

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Our business depends on, and is directly affected by, the output and sales of the global automotive industry and the use of automobiles by consumers.  Pandemics or disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, have disrupted, and may continue to disrupt, global automotive industry customer sales and production volumes. Vehicle production initially decreased significantly in China, which was first affected by COVID-19, then Europe and also the United States. Subsequent events resulted in the shutdown of manufacturing operations in China, Europe and the United States, and even though manufacturing operations has begun, in part, the capacity of such global manufacturing operations remains uncertain. As a result, we have experienced, and may continue to experience, difficulties in entering into new contracts with our customers, a decline in revenues resulting from the decrease in the production and sale of automobiles by our customers, the use of automobiles, increased difficulties in collecting payment obligations from our customers and the possibility customers will continue with existing projects.  These all may be further exacerbated by the global economic downturn resulting from the pandemic which could further decrease consumer demand for vehicles or result in the financial distress of one or more of our customers.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our business operations could be further disrupted or delayed. The pandemic has already resulted in, and may continue to result in, work stoppages, slowdowns and delays, travel restrictions, and other factors that cause a decrease in the production and sale of automobiles by our customers.  The production of automobiles with our products has been and may continue to be adversely affected with production delays and our ability to provide engineering support and implement design changes for customers may be impacted by restrictions on travel and quarantine policies put in place by businesses and governments.  

The full extent to which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our financial performance will depend on future developments, many of which are outside of our control, are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including, but not limited to, the duration and spread of the pandemic, its severity, the effectiveness of actions to contain the virus or treat its impact and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. The COVID-19 pandemic could also result in additional governmental restrictions and regulations, which could adversely affect our business and financial results.  In addition, a recession, depression or other sustained adverse market impact resulting from COVID-19 could materially and adversely affect our business, our access to needed capital and liquidity, and the value of our common stock. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has lessened or subsided, we may continue to experience adverse impacts on our business and financial performance as a result of its global economic impact.

The market in which we operate is highly competitive and rapidly changing and we may be unable to compete successfully.

There are a number of companies that develop or may develop products that compete in the automotive voice assistance market. The market for our products and services is characterized by intense competition, evolving industry and regulatory standards, emerging business and distribution models, disruptive software technology developments, short product and service life cycles, price sensitivity on the part of customers, and frequent new product introductions, including alternatives for certain of our products that offer limited functionality at significantly lower costs or free of charge. In addition, some of our competitors have business objectives that may drive them to sell their alternative offerings at a significant discount to our offerings in the automotive voice assistant market. Current and potential competitors have established, or may establish, cooperative relationships among themselves or with third parties to increase the ability of their technologies to address the needs of our prospective customers. Furthermore, existing or prospective customers may decide to develop competing products or have established, or may in the future establish, strategic relationships with our competitors. We also face significant competition with respect to cloud-based solutions in the automotive cognitive assistance market where existing and new competitors may have or have already established significant market share and product offerings.

The competition in the automotive cognitive assistance market could adversely affect our operating results by reducing the volume of the products and solutions we license or sell or the prices we can charge. Some of our current or potential competitors are large technology companies that have significantly greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do, and others are smaller specialized companies that possess automotive expertise or regional focus and may have greater price flexibility than we do. These competitors may be able to respond more rapidly than we can to new or emerging technologies or changes in customer requirements, or may decide to offer products at low or unsustainable cost to win new business. They may also devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sale of their products than we do, and in certain cases may be able to include or combine their competitive products or technologies with other of their products or technologies in a manner whereby the competitive functionality is available at lower cost or free of charge within the larger offering. To the extent they do so, penetration of our products, and therefore our revenue, may be adversely affected. Our large competitors may also have greater access to data, including customer data, which provides them with a competitive advantage in developing new products and technologies. Our success depends substantially upon our ability to enhance our products and technologies, to develop and introduce, on a timely and cost-effective basis, new products and features that meet changing customer requirements and incorporate technological enhancements, and to maintain our alignment with the OEMs, their technology and market strategies. If we are unable to develop new products and enhance functionalities or technologies to adapt to these changes and maintain our alignment with OEMs, our business will suffer.

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Adverse conditions in the automotive industry or the global economy more generally could have adverse effects on our results of operations.

Our business depends on, and is directly affected by, the global automobile industry. Automotive production and sales are highly cyclical and depend on general economic conditions and other factors, including consumer spending and preferences, changes in interest rate levels and credit availability, consumer confidence, fuel costs, fuel availability, environmental impact, governmental incentives and regulatory requirements, and political volatility, especially in energy-producing countries and growth markets. Such factors may also negatively impact consumer demand for automobiles that include features such as our products. In addition, automotive production and sales can be affected by our customers’ ability to continue operating in response to challenging economic conditions, and in response to labor relations issues, regulatory requirements, trade agreements and other factors. The volume of global automotive production has fluctuated, sometimes significantly, from year to year, and such fluctuations give rise to fluctuations in the demand for our products. Any significant adverse change in any of these factors, including, but not limited to, general economic conditions and the resulting bankruptcy of a customer or the closure of a customer manufacturing facility, may result in a reduction in automotive sales and production by our customers, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our strategy to increase cloud connected services may adversely affect our near-term revenue growth and results of operations.

Our leadership position has historically been derived from our products and services based on edge software technology. We have been and are continuing to develop new products and services that incorporate cloud-connected components. The design and development of new cloud-connected components will involve significant expense. Our research and development costs have greatly increased in recent years and, together with certain expenses associated with delivering our connected services, are projected to continue to escalate in the near future. We may encounter difficulties with designing, developing and releasing new cloud-connected components, as well as integrating these components with our existing hybrid technologies. These development issues may further increase costs and may affect our ability to innovate in a manner demanded by the market. As a result, our strategy to incorporate more cloud-connected components may adversely affect our revenue growth and results of operations.

Pricing pressures from our customers may adversely affect our business.

We may experience pricing pressure from our customers in the future, which could result from the strong purchasing power of major OEMs. As a developer of automotive cognitive assistance components, we may be expected to quote fixed prices or be forced to accept prices with annual price reduction commitments for long-term sales arrangements or discounted reimbursements for our work. We may encounter customers unwilling to accept the terms of our software license or non-recurring engineering agreements. Any price reductions could impact our sales and profit margins. Our future profitability will depend upon, among other things, our ability to continuously reduce the costs for our components and maintain our cost structure. Our profitability is also influenced by our success in designing and marketing technological improvements in automotive cognitive assistance systems. If we are unable to offset any price reductions in the future, our business, results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected.

We invest effort and money seeking OEMs’ validation of our technology, and there can be no assurance that we will win or be able to renew service contracts, which could adversely affect our future business, results of operations and financial condition.

We invest effort and money from the time an OEM or a tier 1 supplier begins designing for an upcoming program to the date on which the customer chooses our technology to be incorporated directly or indirectly into one or more specific vehicle models to be produced by the customer. This selection process is known as a “design win.” We could expend our resources without success. After a design win, it is typically quite difficult for a product or technology that did not receive the design win to displace the winner until the customer begins a new selection process because it is very unlikely that a customer will change complex technology until a vehicle model is revamped. In addition, the company with the winning design may have an advantage with the customer going forward because of the established relationship between the winning company and such customer, which could make it more difficult for such company’s competitors to win the designs for other service contracts. Even if we have an established relationship with a customer, any failure to perform under a service contract or innovate in response to their feedback may neutralize our advantage with that customer. If we fail to win a significant number of customer design competitions in the future or to renew a significant number of existing service contracts, our business, results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected. Moreover, due to the evolution of our connected offerings and architecture, trending away from providing legacy infotainment and connected services and a change in our professional services pricing strategies, we expect our deferred revenue balances to decrease in the future, including due to a wind-down of a legacy connected service relationship with a major OEM, since the majority of the cash from the contract has been collected. To the extent we are unable to renew existing service contracts, such decrease could intensify. The period of time from winning a contract to implementation is long and we are subject to the risks of cancellation or postponement of the contract or unsuccessful implementation.

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Our products are technologically complex and incorporate many technological innovations. Prospective customers generally must make significant commitments of resources to test and validate our products before including them in any particular vehicle model. The development cycles of our products with new customers are approximately six months to two years after a design win, depending on the customer and the complexity of the product. These development cycles result in us investing our resources prior to realizing any revenues from the customer contracts. Further, we are subject to the risk that a customer cancels or postpones implementation of our technology, as well as that we will not be able to implement our technology successfully. Further, our sales could be less than forecast if the vehicle model is unsuccessful, including reasons unrelated to our technology. Long development cycles and product cancellations or postponements may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our business could be materially and adversely affected if we lost any of our largest customers.

The loss of business from any of our major customers, whether by lower overall demand for vehicles, cancellation of existing contracts or the failure to award us new business, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Alternatively, there is a risk that one or more of our major customers could be unable to pay our invoices as they become due or that a customer will simply refuse to make such payments given its financial difficulties. If a major customer becomes subject to bankruptcy or similar proceedings whereby contractual commitments are subject to stay of execution and the possibility of legal or other modification, or if a major customer otherwise successfully procures protection against us legally enforcing its obligations, it is likely that we will be forced to record a substantial loss. In addition, certain of our customers that are tier 1 suppliers exclusively sell to certain OEMs, including some of our other customers. A bankruptcy of, or other significant disruption to, any of these OEMs could intensify any adverse impact on our business and results of operations.

Our operating results may fluctuate significantly from period to period, and this may cause our stock price to decline.

Our revenue and operating results may fluctuate materially in the future. These fluctuations may cause our results of operations to not meet the expectations of securities analysts or investors which would likely cause the price of our stock to decline. Factors that may contribute to fluctuations in operating results include:

 

given our limited customer base, the volume, timing and fulfillment of large customer contracts;

 

renewals of existing customer contracts and wins of new customer programs;

 

increased expenditures incurred pursuing new product or market opportunities;

 

the timing of the receipt of royalty reports;

 

fluctuating sales by our customers to their end-users;

 

contractual counterparties failing to meet their contractual commitments to us;

 

introduction of new products by us or our competitors;

 

cybersecurity or data breaches;

 

reduction in the prices of our products in response to competition, market conditions or contractual obligations;

 

impairment of goodwill or intangible assets;

 

accounts receivable that are not collectible;

 

higher than anticipated costs related to fixed-price contracts with our customers;

 

change in costs due to regulatory or trade restrictions;

 

expenses incurred in litigation matters, whether initiated by us or brought by third-parties against us, and settlements or judgments we are required to pay in connection with disputes;

 

changes in our stock compensation practices, as relates to employee short term incentive payments; and

 

general economic trends as they affect the customer bases into which we sell.

Due to the foregoing factors, among others, our revenue and operating results may fluctuate significantly from period to period. Our expense levels are based in significant part on our expectations of future revenue, and we may not be able to reduce our expenses quickly to respond to near-term shortfalls in projected revenue. Therefore, our failure to meet revenue expectations would seriously harm our operating results, financial condition and cash flows.

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We may not be successful with the adoption of new applications.

Part of our growth strategy includes the successful introduction of new products that will rely on subscription or transactional-based revenue generation. These represent new applications and we cannot assure the introduction of these new products, the level of adoption of these new products, or how quickly they can ramp to generate meaningful revenue. The development and launch of new products will require maintaining adequate resources, such as the appropriate personnel and technology to develop such products. We may experience delays between the time we incur expenses associated with the development and launch of new products and the revenue generated from the products. In addition, anticipated demand for the new products could decrease after we have spent time and resources on the development of the new product, or our efforts may not lead to the successful introduction of new products that are competitive, which would harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If we are unable to attract and retain key personnel, our business could be harmed.

If any of our key employees were to leave, we could face substantial difficulty in hiring qualified successors and could experience a loss in productivity while any successor obtains the necessary training and experience. Although we have arrangements with some of our executive officers designed to promote retention, our employment relationships are generally at-will and we have had key employees leave in the past. We cannot assure you that one or more key employees will not leave in the future. We intend to continue to hire additional highly qualified personnel, including research and development and operational personnel, but may not be able to attract, assimilate or retain qualified personnel in the future. Any failure to attract, integrate, motivate and retain these employees could harm our business.

We depend on skilled employees and could be impacted by a shortage of critical skills.

Much of our future success depends on the continued service and availability of skilled employees, particularly with respect to technical areas. Skilled and experienced personnel in the areas where we compete are in high demand, and competition for their talents is intense. We expect that many of our key employees will receive a total compensation package that includes equity awards. New regulations or volatility in the stock market could diminish our use, and the value, of our equity awards. This would place us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting qualified personnel or force us to offer more cash compensation.

Some of our employees are represented by workers councils or unions or are subject to local laws that are less favorable to employers than the laws of the U.S.

Most of our employees in Europe are represented by workers councils or unions. Although we believe we have a good working relationship with our employees and their legal representatives, they must approve any changes in terms which may impede efforts to restructure our workforce.

Cybersecurity and data privacy incidents or breaches may damage client relations and inhibit our growth.

The confidentiality and security of our information, and that of third parties, is critical to our business. Our services involve the transmission, use, and storage of customers’ and their customers’ information, which may be confidential or contain personally identifiable information. Any cybersecurity or data privacy incidents could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. While we maintain a broad array of information security and privacy measures, policies and practices, our networks may be breached through a variety of means, resulting in someone obtaining unauthorized access to our information, to information of our customers or their customers, or to our intellectual property; disabling or degrading service; or sabotaging systems or information. In addition, hardware, software, systems, or applications we develop or procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture or other problems that could unexpectedly compromise information security. Unauthorized parties may also attempt to gain access to our systems or facilities, or those of third parties with whom we do business, through fraud or other forms of deceiving our employees, contractors, and vendors. Because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, or to sabotage systems, change frequently and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventative measures. We will continue to incur significant costs to continuously enhance our information security measures to defend against the threat of cybercrime. Any cybersecurity or data privacy incident or breach may result in:

 

loss of revenue resulting from the operational disruption;

 

loss of revenue or increased bad debt expense due to the inability to invoice properly or to customer dissatisfaction resulting in collection issues;

 

loss of revenue due to loss of customers;

 

material remediation costs to recreate or restore systems;

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material investments in new or enhanced systems in order to enhance our information security posture;

 

cost of incentives offered to customers to restore confidence and maintain business relationships;

 

reputational damage resulting in the failure to retain or attract customers;

 

costs associated with potential litigation or governmental investigations;

 

costs associated with any required notices of a data breach;

 

costs associated with the potential loss of critical business data;

 

difficulties enhancing or creating new products due to loss of data or data integrity issues; and

 

other consequences of which we are not currently aware but will discover through the remediation process.

Our business is subject to a variety of domestic and international laws, rules, policies and other obligations.

We are subject to U.S. and international laws and regulations in multiple areas, including data protection, anticorruption, labor relations, tax, foreign currency, anti-competition, import, export and trade regulations, and we are subject to a complex array of federal, state and international laws relating to the collection, use, retention, disclosure, security and transfer of personally identifiable information. In many cases, these laws apply not only to transfers between unrelated third-parties but also to transfers between us and our subsidiaries. Many jurisdictions have passed laws in this area, and other jurisdictions are considering imposing additional restrictions. The European Commission adopted the European General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which went into effect on May 25, 2018. China adopted a new cybersecurity law as of June 2017. In addition, California adopted significant new consumer privacy laws in June 2018 that went into effect in January 2020. Complying with the GDPR and other requirements may cause us to incur substantial costs and may require us to change our business practices.

Any failure by us, our customers or other parties with whom we do business to comply with our privacy policy or with federal, state or international privacy-related or data protection laws and regulations could result in proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. Any alleged or actual failure to comply with applicable privacy laws and regulations may:

 

cause our customers to lose confidence in our solutions;

 

harm our reputation;

 

expose us to litigation, regulatory investigations and to resulting liabilities including reimbursement of customer costs, damages, penalties or fines imposed by regulatory agencies; and

 

require us to incur significant expenses for remediation.

We are also subject to a variety of anticorruption laws in respect of our international operations, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, and regulations issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and various other foreign governmental agencies. We cannot predict the nature, scope or effect of future regulatory requirements to which our international operations might be subject or the manner in which existing laws might be administered or interpreted. Actual or alleged violations of these laws and regulations could lead to enforcement actions and financial penalties that could result in substantial costs.

A significant portion of our revenues are derived, and a significant portion of our research and development activities are based, outside the United States. Our results could be harmed by economic, political, regulatory, foreign currency fluctuations and other risks associated with these international regions.

Because we operate worldwide, our business is subject to risks associated with doing business internationally. We generate most of our international revenue in Europe and Asia, and we anticipate that revenue from international operations could increase in the future. In addition, some of our products are developed outside the United States. We conduct a significant portion of the development of our voice recognition and natural language understanding solutions in Canada and Germany. We also have significant research and development resources in Belgium, China, India, Italy, and the United Kingdom. We are exposed to fluctuating exchange rates of foreign currencies including the euro, British pound, Canadian dollar, Chinese RMB, Japanese yen, Indian rupee and South Korean won. Accordingly, our future results could be harmed by a variety of factors associated with international sales and operations, including:

 

adverse political and economic conditions, or changes to such conditions, in a specific region or country;

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trade protection measures, including tariffs and import/export controls, imposed by the United States and/or by other countries or regional authorities such as China, Canada or the European Union;

 

the impact on local and global economies of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union;

 

changes in foreign currency exchange rates or the lack of ability to hedge certain foreign currencies;

 

compliance with laws and regulations in many countries and any subsequent changes in such laws and regulations;

 

geopolitical turmoil, including terrorism and war;

 

changing data privacy regulations and customer requirements to locate data centers in certain jurisdictions;

 

evolving restrictions on cross-border investment, including recent enhancements to the oversight by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States pursuant to the Foreign Investment Risk Preview Modernization Act and substantial restrictions on investment from China;

 

changes in applicable tax laws;

 

difficulties in staffing and managing operations in multiple locations in many countries;

 

longer payment cycles of foreign customers and timing of collections in foreign jurisdictions; and

 

less effective protection of intellectual property than in the United States.

Our business in China is subject to aggressive competition and is sensitive to economic, market and political conditions.

We operate in the highly competitive automotive cognitive assistance market in China and face competition from both international and smaller domestic manufacturers. We anticipate that additional competitors, both domestic and international, may seek to enter the Chinese market resulting in increased competition. Increased competition may result in price reductions, reduced margins and our inability to gain or hold market share. There have been periods of increased market volatility and moderation in the levels of economic growth in China, which resulted in periods of lower automotive production growth rates in China than those previously experienced. In addition, political tensions between China and the United States may negatively impact our ability to conduct business in China. If we are unable to grow or maintain our position in the Chinese market, the pace of growth slows or vehicle sales in China decrease, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially adversely effected. Government regulations and business considerations may also require us to conduct business in China through joint ventures with Chinese companies. Our participation in joint ventures would limit our control over Chinese operations and may expose our proprietary technologies to misappropriation by joint venture partners. The above risks, if realized, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Interruptions or delays in our services or services from data center hosting facilities or public clouds could impair the delivery of our services and harm our business.

Because our services are complex and incorporate a variety of third-party hardware and software, our services may have errors or defects that could result in unanticipated downtime for our customers and harm to our reputation and our business. We have from time to time, found defects in our services, and new errors in our services may be detected in the future. In addition, we currently serve our customers from data center hosting facilities or third-party public clouds we directly manage. Any damage to, or failure of, the systems and facilities that serve our customers in whole or in part could result in interruptions in our service. Interruptions in our service may reduce our revenue, cause us to issue credits or pay service level agreement penalties, cause customers to terminate their on-demand services, and adversely affect our renewal rates and our ability to attract new customers.

If our goodwill or other intangible assets become impaired, our operating results could be negatively impacted.

We have significant intangible assets, including goodwill and other intangible assets, which are susceptible to valuation adjustments as a result of changes in various factors or conditions. The most significant intangible assets are goodwill, customer relationships and patents and core technologies. Customer relationships are amortized over their estimated economic lives based on the pattern of economic benefits expected to be generated from the use of the asset. Technologies and patents are amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives. We assess the potential impairment of goodwill on an annual basis. Whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable, we will be required to assess the potential impairment of goodwill and other intangible assets. Factors that could trigger an impairment of such assets include the following:

 

changes in our organization or management reporting structure that could result in additional reporting units, which may require alternative methods of estimating fair values or greater disaggregation or aggregation in our analysis by reporting unit;

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significant under performance relative to historical or projected future operating results;

 

significant changes in the strategy for our overall business;

 

significant negative industry or economic trends;

 

significant decline in our stock price for a sustained period; and

 

our market capitalization declining to below net book value.

Future adverse changes in these or other unforeseeable factors could result in an impairment charge that would impact our results of operations and financial position in the reporting period identified.

Tax matters may cause significant variability in our financial results and may impact our overall financial condition.

Our businesses are subject to income taxation in the United States, as well as in many tax jurisdictions throughout the world. Tax rates in these jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. If our effective tax rate increases, our operating results and cash flow could be adversely affected. Our effective income tax rate can vary significantly between periods due to a number of complex factors including:

 

projected levels of taxable income;

 

pre-tax income being lower than anticipated in countries with lower statutory rates or higher than anticipated in countries with higher statutory rates;

 

increases or decreases to valuation allowances recorded against deferred tax assets;

 

tax audits conducted and settled by various tax authorities;

 

adjustments to income taxes upon finalization of income tax returns;

 

the ability to claim foreign tax credits;

 

the repatriation of non-U.S. earnings for which we have not previously provided for income taxes;

 

changes in tax laws and their interpretations in countries in which we are subject to taxation; and

 

changes to assessments of uncertain tax positions.

We regularly evaluate the need for a valuation allowance on deferred tax assets, considering historical profitability, projected future taxable income, the expected timing of the reversals of existing temporary differences and tax planning strategies. This analysis is heavily dependent upon our current and projected operating results. A decline in future operating results could provide substantial evidence that a full or partial valuation allowance for deferred tax assets is necessary, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Risks Relating to our Intellectual Property and Technology

Third parties have claimed and may claim in the future that we are infringing their intellectual property, and we could be exposed to significant litigation or licensing expenses or be prevented from selling our products if such claims are successful.

From time to time, we are subject to claims and legal actions alleging that we or our customers may be infringing or contributing to the infringement of the intellectual property rights of others. We may be unaware of intellectual property rights of others that may cover some of our technologies and products. If it appears necessary or desirable, we may seek licenses for these intellectual property rights. However, we may not be able to obtain licenses from some or all claimants, the terms of any offered licenses may not be acceptable to us, and we may not be able to resolve disputes without litigation. Any litigation regarding intellectual property could be costly and time-consuming and could divert the attention of our management and key personnel from our business operations. Intellectual property disputes could subject us to significant liabilities, require us to enter into royalty and licensing arrangements on unfavorable terms, prevent us from licensing certain of our products, cause severe disruptions to our operations or the markets in which we compete, or require us to satisfy indemnification commitments with our customers including contractual provisions under various arrangements. Any of these could seriously harm our business, financial condition or operations.

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Unauthorized use of our proprietary technology and intellectual property could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our success and competitive position depend in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property rights protecting our products and services. We rely on a combination of patents, copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, confidentiality provisions and licensing arrangements to establish and protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights. Unauthorized parties may attempt to copy or discover aspects of our products or to obtain, license, sell or otherwise use information that we regard as proprietary. Policing unauthorized use of our products is difficult and we may not be able to protect our technology from unauthorized use. Additionally, our competitors may independently develop technologies that are substantially the same or superior to our technologies and that do not infringe our rights. In these cases, we would be unable to prevent our competitors from selling or licensing these similar or superior technologies. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Although the source code for our proprietary software is protected both as a trade secret and as a copyrighted work, litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights, to protect our trade secrets, to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others, or to defend against claims of infringement or invalidity. Litigation, regardless of the outcome, can be very expensive and can divert management’s efforts.

Our software products may have bugs, which could result in delayed or lost revenue, expensive correction, liability to our customers and claims against us.

Complex software products such as ours may contain errors, defects or bugs. Defects in the solutions or products that we develop and sell to our customers could require expensive corrections and result in delayed or lost revenue, adverse customer reaction and negative publicity about us or our products and services. Customers who are not satisfied with any of our products may also bring claims against us for damages, which, even if unsuccessful, would likely be time-consuming to defend, and could result in costly litigation and payment of damages. Such claims could harm our reputation, financial results and competitive position.

We may be unable to respond quickly enough to changes in technology and technological risks and to develop our intellectual property into commercially viable products.

Changes in legislative, regulatory or industry requirements or in competitive technologies may render certain of our products obsolete or less attractive to our customers, which could adversely affect our results of operations. Our ability to anticipate changes in technology and regulatory standards and to successfully develop and introduce new and enhanced products on a timely basis will be a significant factor in our ability to be competitive. There is a risk that we will not be able to achieve the technological advances that may be necessary for us to be competitive or that certain of our products will become obsolete. Moreover, restrictions on the use of our technology over the next four years under the Intellectual Property Agreement which we entered into with Nuance in connection with the Spin-Off may limit our ability to adapt to technology and regulatory developments and thereby compete effectively in the market. We are also subject to the risks generally associated with new product introductions and applications, including lack of market acceptance, delays in product development and failure of products to operate properly. These risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We utilize certain key technologies, content and services from, and integrate certain of our solutions with, third parties and may be unable to replace those technologies, content and services if they become obsolete, unavailable or incompatible with our solutions.

We utilize certain key technologies and content from, and/or integrate certain of our solutions with, hardware, software, services and content of third parties. Some of these vendors are also our competitors in various respects. These third-party vendors could, in the future, seek to charge us cost prohibitive fees for such use or integration or may design or utilize their solutions in a manner that makes it more difficult for us to continue to utilize their solutions, or integrate their technologies with our solutions, in the same manner or at all. Any significant interruption in the supply or maintenance of such third-party hardware, software, services or content could negatively impact our ability to offer our solutions unless and until we replace the functionality provided by this third-party hardware, software and/or content. In addition, we are dependent upon these third parties’ ability to enhance their current products, develop new products on a timely and cost-effective basis and respond to emerging industry standards and other technological changes. There can be no assurance that we would be able to replace the functionality or content provided by third-party vendors in the event that such technologies become obsolete or incompatible with future versions of our solutions or are otherwise not adequately maintained or updated. Any delay in or inability to replace any such functionality could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Furthermore, delays in the release of new and upgraded versions of third-party software applications could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

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Risks Relating to the Spin-Off

If the Spin-Off were determined not to qualify as tax-free for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we could have an indemnification obligation to Nuance, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

On October 1, 2019, we were spun off from Nuance. Completion of the Spin-Off was conditioned on Nuance’s receipt of a written opinion from its tax counsel to the effect that the Distribution will qualify for non-recognition of gain and loss under Section 355 and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code.

The opinion of counsel does not address any U.S. state or local or foreign tax consequences of the Spin-Off. The opinion assumed that the Spin-Off was completed according to the terms of the Separation and Distribution Agreement and relied on the facts as stated in the Separation and Distribution Agreement, the Tax Matters Agreement, the other ancillary agreements, Information Statement included as part of our registration statement on Form 10 and a number of other documents related to the Spin-Off. In addition, the opinion was based on certain assumptions as well as certain representations as to factual matters from, and certain covenants by, Nuance and us. The opinion cannot be relied on if any of the assumptions, representations or covenants are incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate or are violated in any material respect.

If, as a result of any of our representations being untrue or our covenants being breached, the Spin-Off, and certain related transactions or certain transactions, were determined not to qualify for non-recognition of gain or loss under Section 355 and related provisions of the Code, we could be required to indemnify Nuance for the resulting taxes and related expenses. Those amounts could be material. Any such indemnification obligation could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, if we or our stockholders were to engage in transactions that resulted in a 50% or greater change by vote or value in the ownership of our stock during the four-year period beginning on the date that begins two years before the date of the Spin-Off, the Spin-Off would generally be taxable to Nuance, but not to stockholders, under Section 355(e) of the Code, unless it were established that such transactions and the Spin-Off were not part of a plan or series of related transactions. If the Spin-Off were taxable to Nuance due to such a 50% or greater change in ownership of our stock, Nuance would recognize gain equal to the excess of the fair market value on the Distribution Date of our common stock distributed to Nuance stockholders over Nuance’s tax basis in our common stock and would also recognize gain in respect of certain reorganization transactions undertaken by Nuance to effect the separation, and we generally would be required to indemnify Nuance for the tax on such gain and related expenses. Those amounts could be material. Any such indemnification obligation could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We have agreed to numerous restrictions to preserve the non-recognition treatment of the Spin-Off, which may reduce our strategic and operating flexibility.

We have agreed in the Tax Matters Agreement to covenants and indemnification obligations that address compliance with Section 355 and related provisions of the Code and are intended to preserve the tax-free nature of the Spin-Off. These covenants include certain restrictions on our activity for a period of two years following the Spin-Off, unless we or Nuance obtain a private letter ruling from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, or an opinion of counsel, in each case acceptable to Nuance in its reasonable discretion, that the restricted action would not impact the non-recognition treatment of the Spin-Off, or unless Nuance otherwise gives its consent for us to take a restricted action. These covenants and indemnification obligations limit our ability to pursue strategic transactions or engage in new businesses or other transactions that may maximize the value of our business, and might discourage or delay a strategic transaction that our stockholders may consider favorable.

We may be unable to achieve some or all of the benefits that we expect to achieve from the Spin-Off.

We believe that, as an independent, publicly traded company, we will be able to, among other things, design and implement corporate strategies and policies and develop partnerships that are better targeted to our business’s areas of strength and differentiation, better focus our financial and operational resources on those specific strategies, create effective incentives for our management and employees that are more closely tied to our business performance, provide investors more flexibility and enable us to achieve alignment with a more natural stockholder base and implement and maintain a capital structure designed to meet our specific needs. We may be unable to achieve some or all of the benefits that we expect to achieve as an independent company in the time we expect, if at all, for a variety of reasons, including:

 

as an independent, publicly traded company, we may be more susceptible to market fluctuations and other adverse events than if it were still a part of Nuance; and

 

as an independent, publicly traded company, our businesses are less diversified than Nuance’s businesses prior to the separation.

If we fail to achieve some or all of the benefits that we expect to achieve as an independent company, or do not achieve them in the time we expect, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

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We are an emerging growth company, and any decision on our part to comply only with certain reduced reporting and disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies could make our common stock less attractive to investors and may make it more difficult to compare our performance with other public companies.

We are an emerging growth company, and, for as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may choose to take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies but not to emerging growth companies, including, but not limited to, not being required to have our independent registered public accounting firm audit our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years following the effectiveness of our registration statement on Form 10. We will cease to be an emerging growth company upon the earliest of:

 

the end of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the effectiveness of our registration statement on Form 10,

 

the first fiscal year after our annual gross revenues are $1.07 billion or more,

 

the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities or

 

the end of any fiscal year in which the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeded $700 million as of the end of the second quarter of that fiscal year.

We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive if we choose to rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result of any choices to reduce future disclosure, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and the price of our common stock may be more volatile.

Under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. The JOBS Act provides that a company can elect to opt out of the extended transition period and comply with the requirements that apply to non-emerging growth companies, but any such election to opt out is irrevocable. We have elected not to opt out of such extended transition period, which means that when a standard is issued or revised and it has different application dates for public or private companies, we, as an emerging growth company, can adopt the new or revised standard at the time private companies adopt the new or revised standard. This may make comparison of our financial statements with other public companies that are not emerging growth companies or emerging growth companies that have opted out of using the extended transition period difficult or impossible because of the potential differences in accounting standards used.

We intend to continue to improve our internal controls over financial reporting and ensure we are able to produce accurate and timely financial statements. However, no assurance can be given that our actions will be successful.

Our historical combined financial information is not necessarily representative of the results we would have achieved as an independent, publicly traded company.

For fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018, we derived the historical combined financial information included in this Form 10-K from Nuance’s consolidated financial statements, and this information does not necessarily reflect the results of operations and financial position we would have achieved as an independent, publicly traded company during the periods presented. This is primarily because of the following factors:

 

Prior to the Spin-Off, we operated as part of Nuance’s broader organization, and Nuance performed various corporate functions for us. Our historical combined financial information for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018 reflects allocations of corporate expenses from Nuance for these and similar functions. These allocations may not reflect the costs we would have incurred for similar services as an independent publicly traded company.

 

We have entered into transactions with Nuance that did not exist prior to the Spin-Off, such as Nuance’s provision of transition and other services, and undertaken indemnification obligations, which have caused us to incur new costs after the Spin-Off.  

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Our historical combined financial information for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018 does not reflect changes that we experienced as a result of our separation from Nuance, including changes in the financing, cash management, operations, cost structure and personnel needs of our business. As part of Nuance, we enjoyed certain benefits from Nuance’s operating diversity, size, purchasing power, borrowing leverage and available capital for investments that we can no longer enjoy after the Spin-Off. As an independent entity, we may be unable to purchase goods, services and technologies, such as insurance and health care benefits and computer software licenses, or access capital markets, on terms as favorable to us as those we obtained as part of Nuance prior to the Spin-Off, and our results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, our historical combined financial data for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018 does not include an allocation of interest expense comparable to the interest expenses we incurred as a result of the Spin-Off and related transactions.

We may have potential business conflicts of interest with Nuance with respect to our past and ongoing relationships.

Conflicts of interest may arise between Nuance and us in a number of areas relating to our past and ongoing relationships, including:

 

labor, tax, employee benefit, indemnification and other matters arising from our separation from Nuance;

 

intellectual property matters;

 

employee recruiting and retention; and

 

business combinations involving our company.

We may not be able to resolve any potential conflicts, and, even if we do so, the resolution may be less favorable to us than if we were dealing with an unaffiliated party.

A certain director may have actual or potential conflicts of interest because of their financial interests in Nuance.

Because of his current position with Nuance, a certain director owns equity interests in Nuance. Continuing ownership of Nuance shares and equity awards could create, or appear to create, potential conflicts of interest if we and Nuance face decisions that could have implications for both of us.

The allocation of intellectual property rights and data between Nuance and Cerence as part of the Spin-Off, the shared use of certain intellectual property rights and data following the Spin-Off and restrictions on the use of intellectual property rights, could adversely impact our reputation, our ability to enforce certain intellectual property rights that are important to us and our competitive position.

In connection with the Spin-Off, we are entered into agreements with Nuance governing the allocation of intellectual property rights and data related to our business. These agreements include restrictions on our use of Nuance’s intellectual property rights and data licensed to us, including limitations on the field of use in which we can exercise our license rights. As a result, we may not be able to pursue opportunities that require use of these license rights in industries other than the automotive industry and certain ancillary fields. Moreover, the licenses granted to us under Nuance’s intellectual property rights and data are non-exclusive, so Nuance may be able to license the rights and data to third parties that may compete with us. These agreements could adversely affect our position and options relating to intellectual property enforcement, licensing negotiations and monetization and access to data used in our business. We also may not have sufficient rights to grant sublicenses of intellectual property or data used in our business, and we may be subject to third party rights pertaining to the underlying intellectual property or data. These circumstances could adversely affect our ability to protect our competitive position in the industry and otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Relating to Our Securities and Indebtedness

Our stock price may fluctuate significantly.

The market price of our common stock may fluctuate widely, depending on many factors, some of which may be beyond our control, including:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our results of operations due to factors related to our business;

 

success or failure of our business strategies;

 

competition and industry capacity;

 

changes in interest rates and other factors that affect earnings and cash flow;

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our level of indebtedness, our ability to make payments on or service our indebtedness and our ability to obtain financing as needed;

 

our ability to retain and recruit qualified personnel;

 

our quarterly or annual earnings, or those of other companies in our industry;

 

announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions or dispositions;

 

changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;

 

the failure of securities analysts to cover, or positively cover, our common stock;

 

changes in earnings estimates by securities analysts or our ability to meet those estimates;

 

the operating and stock price performance of other comparable companies;

 

investor perception of our company and our industry;

 

overall market fluctuations unrelated to our operating performance;

 

results from any material litigation or government investigation;

 

changes in laws and regulations (including tax laws and regulations) affecting our business;

 

changes in capital gains taxes and taxes on dividends affecting stockholders; and

 

general economic conditions and other external factors.

Low trading volume for our stock would amplify the effect of the above factors on our stock price volatility.

Should the market price of our shares drop significantly, stockholders may institute securities class action lawsuits against us. A lawsuit against us could cause us to incur substantial costs and could divert the time and attention of our management and other resources.

The terms of the Senior Credit Facilities restrict our current and future operations, particularly our ability to incur debt that we may need to fund initiatives in response to changes in our business, the industry in which we operate, the economy and governmental regulations.

The terms of the Senior Credit Facilities include a number of restrictive covenants that impose significant operating and financial restrictions on us and our subsidiaries and limit our ability to engage in actions that may be in our long-term best interests. These restrict our and our subsidiaries’ ability to take some or all of the following actions:

 

incur or guarantee additional indebtedness or sell disqualified or preferred stock;

 

pay dividends on, make distributions in respect of, repurchase or redeem capital stock;

 

make investments or acquisitions;

 

create liens;

 

enter into sale/leaseback transactions;

 

enter into agreements restricting the ability to pay dividends or make other intercompany transfers;

 

enter into transactions with affiliates;

 

prepay, repurchase or redeem certain kinds of indebtedness;

 

consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of assets or sell stock of our subsidiaries; and/or

 

significantly change the nature of our business.

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Furthermore, the lenders under the Senior Credit Facilities have required that we pledge our assets as collateral as security for our repayment obligations and that we abide by certain financial or operational covenants. Our ability to comply with such covenants and restrictions may be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions. If market or other economic conditions deteriorate, our ability to comply with these covenants may be impaired. A breach of any of these covenants, if applicable, could result in an event of default under the terms of the Senior Credit Facilities. If an event of default occurred, the lenders would have the right to accelerate the repayment of such debt, and the event of default or acceleration could result in the acceleration of the repayment of any other debt to which a cross-default or cross-acceleration provision applies. We might not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient funds to make these accelerated payments, and lenders could then proceed against any collateral. Any subsequent replacement of the agreements governing the Senior Credit Facilities or any new indebtedness could have similar or greater restrictions. The occurrence and ramifications of an event of default could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, as a result of all of these restrictions, we may be limited in how we conduct our business and pursue our strategy, unable to raise additional debt financing to operate during general economic or business downturns or unable to compete effectively or to take advantage of new business opportunities.

We may evaluate whether to pay cash dividends on our common stock in the future, and the terms of our Senior Credit Facilities limit our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.

Our Board of Directors’, or our Board, decisions regarding the payment of dividends depends on consideration of many factors, such as our financial condition, earnings, sufficiency of distributable reserves, opportunities to retain future earnings for use in the operation of our business and to fund future growth, capital requirements, debt service obligations, legal requirements, regulatory constraints and other factors that our Board deems relevant. Additionally, the terms of the Senior Credit Facilities limit our ability to pay cash dividends. There can be no assurance that we will pay a dividend in the future or continue to pay any dividend if we do commence paying dividends.

Servicing our debt may require a significant amount of cash. We may not have sufficient cash flow from our business to pay our indebtedness, and we may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle for cash conversions of the Notes or to repurchase the Notes for cash upon a fundamental change, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

In June 2020, we issued an aggregate principal amount of $175 million 3.00% convertible senior notes due 2025, or the Notes. The interest rate is fixed at 3.00% per annum and is payable semi-annually in arrears on June 1 and December 1 of each year, beginning on December 1, 2020. Our ability to make scheduled payments of the principal of, to pay interest on, or to refinance our indebtedness, including the Notes, depends on our future performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive, and other factors beyond our control. Our business may not generate cash flows from operations in the future that are sufficient to service our debt and make necessary capital expenditures. If we are unable to generate such cash flows, we may be required to adopt one or more alternatives, such as selling assets, restructuring debt, or obtaining additional debt financing or equity capital on terms that may be onerous or highly dilutive. Our ability to refinance any future indebtedness will depend on the capital markets and our financial condition at such time. We may not be able to engage in any of these activities or engage in these activities on desirable terms, which could result in a default on our debt obligations. In addition, any of our future debt agreements may contain restrictive covenants that may prohibit us from adopting any of these alternatives.

Holders of the Notes have the right to require us to repurchase their Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change (as defined in the indenture governing the Notes) at a repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. Upon conversion, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the Notes being converted. We may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases in connection with such conversion and our ability to pay may additionally be limited by law, by regulatory authority, or by agreements governing our existing and future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase the Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the indenture governing the Notes or to pay any cash payable on future conversions as required by such indenture would constitute a default under such indenture. A default under the indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our existing and future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the Notes or make cash payments upon conversions thereof.

In addition, our indebtedness, combined with our other financial obligations and contractual commitments, could have other important consequences. For example, it could:

 

make us more vulnerable to adverse changes in general U.S. and worldwide economic, industry, and competitive conditions and adverse changes in government regulations;

 

limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and our industry;

26


 

 

place us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors who have less debt;

 

limit our ability to borrow additional amounts for funding acquisitions, for working capital, and for other general corporate purposes; and

 

make an acquisition of our company less attractive or more difficult.

Any of these factors could harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition. In addition, if we incur additional indebtedness, the risks related to our business and our ability to service or repay our indebtedness would increase.

The conditional conversion feature of the Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations and the value of our common stock.

In the event the conditional conversion feature of the Notes is triggered, holders of Notes will be entitled to convert the Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their Notes, unless we elect to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering solely shares of our common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we would be required to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert their Notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the Notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.

The conversion of some or all of the Notes would dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders to the extent we satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering shares of our common stock upon any conversion of such Notes. Our Notes may become in the future convertible at the option of their holders under certain circumstances. If holders of our Notes elect to convert their Notes, we may settle our conversion obligation by delivering to them a significant number of shares of our common stock, which would cause dilution to our existing stockholders.

The accounting method for convertible debt securities that may be settled in cash, such as the Notes, could have a material effect on our reported financial results.

Under FASB ASC Subtopic 470-20, Debt with Conversion and Other Options, or ASC 470-20, an entity must separately account for the liability and equity components of convertible debt instruments (such as the Notes) that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion in a manner that reflects the issuer’s economic interest cost. ASC 470-20 requires the value of the conversion options of the Notes, representing the equity component, to be recorded as additional paid-in capital within stockholders’ equity in our consolidated balance sheet and as a discount to the Notes, which reduces their initial carrying value. The carrying value of the Notes, net of the applicable discount recorded, will be accreted up to the principal amount of the Notes, as the case may be, from the issuance date until maturity, which will result in non-cash charges to interest expense in our consolidated statement of operations. Accordingly, we will report lower net income or higher net loss in our financial results because ASC 470-20 requires interest to include both the current period’s accretion of the debt discount and the instrument’s coupon interest, which could adversely affect our reported or future financial results, the trading price of our common stock, and the respective trading price of the Notes.

In August 2020, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update ASU 2020-06, or ASU 2020-06, with the intent to simplify ASC 470-20 and ASC subtopic 815-40, Contracts in Entity’s Own Equity, or ASC 815-40. Among the changes, ASU 2020-06 removed the requirement to bifurcate the liability and equity components of convertible debt instruments (such as the Notes) that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion. The removal of the bifurcation of liability and equity components would eliminate non-cash interest expense corresponding to the amounts recorded within equity. In addition, ASU 2020-06 precludes the use of the treasury stock method, when calculating diluted earnings per share, for convertible debt instruments that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion. The FASB has specified that public companies should adopt ASU 2020-06 as of the beginning of its annual fiscal year, for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021. Early adoption is permitted for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020, including interim periods.

We currently already apply the “if-converted” method for calculating any potential dilutive effect of the conversion options embedded in the Notes on diluted net income per share, which assumes that all of the Notes were converted solely into shares of common stock at the beginning of the reporting period, unless the result would be anti-dilutive.

The commercial and credit environment may adversely affect our access to capital.

Our ability to issue debt or enter into other financing arrangements on acceptable terms could be adversely affected if there is a material decline in the demand for our products or in the solvency of our customers or suppliers or if there are other significantly unfavorable changes in economic conditions. Volatility in the world financial markets could increase borrowing costs or affect our ability to access the capital markets. These conditions may adversely affect our ability to obtain targeted credit ratings.

27


 

Your percentage ownership in Cerence may be diluted in the future.

Your percentage ownership in Cerence may be diluted in the future because of equity issuances for acquisitions, capital market transactions or otherwise, including equity awards that we will be granting to our directors, officers, employees and other service providers. Shares of our common stock are issuable upon the future vesting of certain Nuance equity awards held by our employees that are convertible into Cerence equity awards in connection with the Spin-Off. In addition, our Board has adopted the Cerence 2019 Equity Incentive Plan, or the Equity Plan, for the benefit of certain of our current and future employees, service providers and non-employee directors. Such awards will have a dilutive effect on our earnings per share, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

In addition, our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation authorizes us to issue, without the approval of our stockholders, one or more classes or series of preferred stock having such designation, powers, preferences and relative, participating, optional and other special rights, including preferences over our common stock with respect to dividends and distributions, as our Board may generally determine. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock could dilute the voting power or reduce the value of our common stock. For example, we could grant the holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of the members of our Board in all events or upon the happening of specified events, or the right to veto specified transactions. Similarly, the repurchase or redemption rights or liquidation preferences that we could assign to holders of preferred stock could affect the residual value of our common stock.

From time-to-time, Cerence may opportunistically evaluate and pursue acquisition opportunities, including acquisitions for which the consideration thereof may consist partially or entirely of newly-issued shares of Cerence common stock and, therefore, such transactions, if consummated, would dilute the voting power and/or reduce the value of our common stock.

Certain provisions in our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Amended and Restated By-Laws and Delaware law may discourage takeovers.

Several provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, Amended and Restated By-Laws and Delaware law may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition. These include, among others, provisions that:

 

provide for staggered terms for directors on our Board for a period following the Spin-Off;

 

do not permit our stockholders to act by written consent and require that stockholder action must take place at an annual or special meeting of our stockholders, in each case except as such rights may otherwise be provided to holders of preferred stock;

 

provide for the removal of directors only for cause for a period following the Spin-Off;

 

establish advance notice requirements for stockholder nominations and proposals;

 

provide that a special meeting of our stockholders may only be called by our Board, the Chairman of our Board or our Chief Executive Officer, or at the request of holders of not less than 20% of the outstanding shares of the common stock of Cerence; and

 

limit our ability to enter into business combination transactions.

These and other provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, Amended and Restated By-Laws and Delaware law may discourage, delay or prevent certain types of transactions involving an actual or a threatened acquisition or change in control of Cerence, including unsolicited takeover attempts, even though the transaction may offer our stockholders the opportunity to sell their shares of our common stock at a price above the prevailing market price.

28


 

Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation will designate the courts of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.

Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation provides, in all cases to the fullest extent permitted by law, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery located within the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of Cerence, any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee or stockholder of Cerence to Cerence or Cerence’s stockholders, any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to the Delaware General Corporate Law, or DGCL, or as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery located in the State of Delaware or any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine or any other action asserting an “internal corporate claim” as that term is defined in Section 115 of the DGCL. However, if the Court of Chancery within the State of Delaware does not have jurisdiction, the action may be brought in any other state or federal court located within the State of Delaware. Further, this exclusive forum provision would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, except that it may apply to such suits if brought derivatively on behalf of Cerence. There is, however, uncertainty as to whether a court would enforce such provision in connection with suits to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the Securities Act if brought derivatively on behalf of Cerence, and our stockholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.

Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in shares of our capital stock will be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to these provisions. This provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits. Alternatively, if a court were to find this provision of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions.

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, our ability to produce accurate and timely financial statements could be impaired and investors’ views of us could be harmed.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. In particular, we must perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal control over financial reporting to allow management and our independent registered public accounting firm to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, with auditor attestation of the effectiveness of our internal controls, beginning with our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year in which we cease to qualify as an emerging growth company. If we are not able to comply with the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner, or if we or our independent registered public accounting firm identify deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses, the market price of shares of common stock could decline and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which would require additional financial and management resources.

Our ability to successfully implement our business plan and comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires us to be able to prepare timely and accurate financial statements. Any delay in the implementation of, or disruption in the transition to, new or enhanced systems, procedures or controls may cause our operations to suffer, and we may be unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective and, once we cease to qualify as an emerging growth company, to obtain an unqualified report on internal controls from our auditors as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Moreover, we cannot be certain that these measures would ensure that we implement and maintain adequate controls over our financial processes and reporting in the future. Even if we were to conclude, and our auditors were to concur, that our internal control over financial reporting provided reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting might not prevent or detect fraud or misstatements. This, in turn, could have an adverse impact on trading prices for our shares of common stock, and could adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.  

Item 2. Properties.

Our corporate headquarters is located in Burlington, Massachusetts, and our international headquarters is located in Heerlen, Netherlands. Other large leased sites include properties located in: Montreal, Canada; Bellevue, Washington; Aachen and Ulm, Germany; Shanghai and Chengdu, China; Merelbeke, Belgium; Turin, Italy; Tokyo, Japan and Pune, India.

29


 

We believe our existing facilities and equipment are in good operating condition and are suitable for the conduct of our business.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

Similar to many companies in the software industry, we are involved in a variety of claims, demands, suits, investigations and proceedings that arise from time to time relating to matters incidental to the ordinary course of our business, including actions with respect to contracts, intellectual property, employment, benefits and securities matters. We evaluate the probability of adverse outcomes and, as applicable, estimate the amount of probable losses that may result from pending matters. Probable losses that can be reasonably estimated are reflected in our combined financial statements. These recorded amounts are not material to our combined financial statements for any of the periods presented in the accompanying combined financial statements. While it is not possible to predict the outcome of these matters with certainty, we do not expect the results of any of these actions to have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position. However, each of these matters is subject to uncertainties, the actual losses may prove to be larger or smaller than the accruals reflected in our combined financial statements, and we could incur judgments or enter into settlements of claims that could adversely affect our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not Applicable.  

30


 

PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Our common stock has been listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CRNC” since October 2, 2019. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our common stock. A “when-issued” trading market for our common stock existed between September 17, 2019 and October 1, 2019 under the symbol “CRNCV”.

Holders of Common Stock

As of November 12, 2020, there were 540 holders of record of our common stock. This number does not reflect beneficial owners whose shares are held in street name.

Dividend Policy

We have not paid any dividends since our formation. We may evaluate whether to pay cash dividends to our stockholders. The timing, declaration, amount and payment of future dividends to stockholders, if any, will fall within the discretion of our Board. Among the items we are considering in establishing a dividend policy are the capital needs of our business and opportunities to retain future earnings for use in the operation of our business and to fund future growth. Additionally, the terms of the Senior Credit Facilities limit our ability to pay cash dividends. There can be no assurance that we will pay a dividend in the future or continue to pay any dividend if we do commence the payment of dividends.

Performance Graph

The graph below compares the cumulative total shareholder return of our common stock for the last four quarters with the Russell 2000 and the S&P Software & Services Select indices. The information presented assumes an initial investment of $100 on October 2, 2019, the date our common stock began regular-way trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The graph shows the value that each of these investments would have had at the end of each quarter.

The comparisons shown in the graph below are based upon historical data. We caution that the stock price performance shown in the graph below is not necessarily indicative of, nor is it intended to forecast, the potential future performance of our common stock.

 

 

31


 

 

 

October 2, 2019

 

 

December 31, 2019

 

 

March 31, 2020

 

 

June 30, 2020

 

 

September 30, 2020

 

Cerence Inc.

 

$

100.00

 

 

$

147.43

 

 

$

100.33

 

 

$

266.06

 

 

$

318.37

 

Russell 2000

 

$

100.00

 

 

$

112.76

 

 

$

77.93

 

 

$

97.41

 

 

$

101.90

 

S&P Software & Services Select

 

$

100.00

 

 

$

111.69

 

 

$

90.53

 

 

$

122.93

 

 

$

131.74

 

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities and Use of Proceeds

None.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Not applicable.

32


 

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

The following table presents certain selected consolidated and combined financial information as of and for each of the years in the three-year period ended September 30, 2020, 2019, and 2018.  The selected consolidated and combined financial data as of and for each of the years ended September 30, 2020, 2019, and 2018 is derived from Consolidated and Combined Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. The Consolidated and Combined Financial Statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020 and 2019 have been prepared under Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, Accounting Standard Codification, or ASC, Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or ASC 606, while the Combined Financial Statements for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2018 have been prepared under FASB ASC Topic 605, Revenue Recognition, or ASC 605. In our opinion, both financial statements include all adjustments, consisting of only ordinary recurring adjustments, necessary for a fair statement of the information set forth in this Form 10-K.

ASC 606 was adopted as of October 1, 2018 using the modified retrospective approach from the previous guidance ASC 605. Our transition to ASC 606 represents a change in accounting policy that is reflected in our Consolidated and Combined Financial Statements for fiscal years 2020 and 2019. The adoption of ASC 606 limits the comparability of revenue and expenses, including cost of revenue and certain operating expenses when compared to the fiscal year 2018 and other prior reporting periods.

The selected consolidated and combined financial data presented below should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our Consolidated and Combined Financial Statements, including their respective accompanying notes thereto included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. For fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2018, our business was wholly-owned by Nuance. The financial information included herein may not necessarily reflect our financial position, results of operations and cash flows in the future or what our financial position, results of operations and cash flows would have been had we been an independent, publicly traded company during those periods presented. Further, the historical combined financial information includes allocations of certain Nuance corporate expenses, as described in Note 19 to the Consolidated and Combined Financial Statements. We believe the assumptions and methodologies underlying the allocation of these expenses are reasonable. However, such expenses may not be indicative of the actual level of expense that we would have incurred if we had operated as an independent, publicly traded company.

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 605)

 

Operations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total revenues

 

$

329,646

 

 

$

303,315

 

 

$

276,984

 

Gross profit

 

 

221,795

 

 

 

203,972

 

 

 

194,020

 

Income from operations

 

 

19,331

 

 

 

10,852

 

 

 

36,852

 

(Benefit from) provision for income taxes

 

 

(5,509

)

 

 

(89,084

)

 

 

30,917

 

Net (loss) income

 

 

(20,631

)

 

 

100,268

 

 

 

5,881

 

Financial Position:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deferred revenue

 

 

325,093

 

 

 

353,284

 

 

 

348,649

 

Total assets

 

 

1,687,445

 

 

 

1,483,829

 

 

 

1,397,548

 

Total stockholders' equity

 

 

957,756

 

 

 

1,068,128

 

 

 

993,319

 

Selected Data and Ratios:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net working capital (deficit)

 

 

48,374

 

 

 

(36,789

)

 

 

(38,839

)

Depreciation of property and equipment

 

 

9,160

 

 

 

7,822

 

 

 

9,159

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

 

20,881

 

 

 

21,022

 

 

 

16,606

 

Gross margin

 

 

67.3

%

 

 

67.2

%

 

 

70.0

%

Operating margin

 

 

5.9

%

 

 

3.6

%

 

 

13.3

%

 

33


 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

The following discussion and analysis presented below should be read in conjunction with the Combined Financial Statements and the corresponding notes, and included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. The information presented in this section includes forward-looking statements, which are described in detail in the section titled “Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements.” The matters discussed in these forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those made, projected, or implied in the forward-looking statements. See the section titled “Risk Factors” for a discussion of the risks, uncertainties, and assumptions associated with these statements.

Overview

Cerence builds AI powered virtual assistants for the mobility/transportation market. Our primary target is the automobile market, but our solutions can apply to all forms of transportation including but not limited to two-wheel vehicles, planes, tractors, cruise ships and elevators. Our solutions power natural conversational and intuitive interactions between automobiles, drivers and passengers, and the broader digital world. We possess one of the world’s most popular software platforms for building automotive virtual assistants. Our customers include all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers worldwide. We deliver our solutions on a white-label basis, enabling our customers to deliver customized virtual assistants with unique, branded personalities and ultimately strengthening the bond between automobile brands and end users. Our vision is to enable a more enjoyable, safer journey for everyone.

Our principal offering is our software platform, which our customers use to build virtual assistants that can communicate, find information and take action across an expanding variety of categories. Our software platform has a hybrid architecture combining edge software components with cloud-connected components. Edge software components are installed on a vehicle’s head unit and can operate without access to external networks and information. Cloud-connected components are comprised of certain speech and natural language understanding related technologies, AI-enabled personalization and context-based response frameworks, and content integration platform.

We generate revenue primarily by selling software licenses and cloud-connected services. Our edge software components are typically sold under a traditional per unit perpetual software license model, in which a per unit fee is charged for each software instance installed on an automotive head unit. We typically license cloud-connected software components in the form of a service to the vehicle end user, which is paid for in advance. In addition, we generate professional services revenue from our work with our customers during the design, development and deployment phases of the vehicle model lifecycle and through maintenance and enhancement projects. We have existing relationships with all major OEMs or their tier 1 suppliers, and while our customer contracts vary, they generally represent multi-year engagements, giving us visibility into future revenue.

Impact of COVID-19 on our Business

As the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business continues to develop, we are closely monitoring the global situation. As a premier supplier to the automotive industry, we were adversely impacted by the decline in automotive production and shipments due to the temporary shutdown of our customers’ factories during fiscal 2020. We are unable at this time to predict the full impact of COVID-19 on our operations, liquidity, and financial results, and, depending on the magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, such impact may be material. During the second half of fiscal 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a material impact on our billings and revenue recognized from licenses and billings from connected services, which may also continue beyond fiscal 2020. Accordingly, current results and financial condition discussed herein may not be indicative of future operating results and trends. While we are unable to accurately predict the full impact that COVID-19 will have on our results from operations, financial condition, liquidity and cash flows due to numerous uncertainties, including the duration and severity of the pandemic and containment measures, these measures have impacted, and may continue to impact, our business, as well as our customers and consumers.

We have taken numerous steps, and plan to continue to take further actions, in our approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. We shifted a portion of our R&D and engineering workforces to support our professional service teams and their successful completion of customer project milestones to help mitigate the anticipated decline in revenues. We reduced expenses by limiting discretionary spending, reducing third-party contractors, deferring the hiring of new employees and implementing a reduction in our workforce. In order to further conserve cash outflows, we implemented temporary reductions in salaries for our current named executive officers and other senior executives.

We implemented our business continuity plans and our crisis response team remains in place to respond to changes in our environment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we instructed employees across 18 different countries and 24 office locations to work from home on a temporary basis. Beginning in May 2020, in jurisdictions where local restrictions implemented to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 were lifted, we started reopening our offices to allow employees to return to work at their option. For employees returning to our offices, we have instituted social distancing protocols, increased the level of cleaning and sanitizing, and undertaken other actions to make our offices safer. While most of our employees continue to work remotely, we have experienced minimal declines in workforce efficiency due to our investment in cloud-based applications and tools. We have also instituted strict

34


 

restrictions on travel for all employees. If government health authorities dictate further measures to limit further spread of COVID-19, we may need to adjust our safety protocols to comply with all revised measures in certain countries or regions in which we operate.

Business Trends

We experienced total revenue growth of 8.7% and 9.5%, during fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2019, respectively, primarily driven by our connected and professional services revenues due to increased market penetration of our connected and professional services solutions. License revenues decreased during fiscal 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry, which led to a reduction in reported royalties related to our licensed edge technologies.

Fiscal year 2020 was another key investment year for our business in which we focused on establishing public company functions and expanding our professional services team to meet customer demand. During fiscal year 2020, total cost of revenues increased by 8.6%, primarily driven by investments in professional staff. Total operating expenses grew by 4.8% during fiscal year 2020, primarily driven by G&A expenses which were incurred to establish public company functions. Our R&D expenses decreased 4.5%, as a result of shifting a portion of our R&D and engineering workforces to support our professional service teams and their successful completion of customer project milestones. Our acquisition of Voicebox Technology Corporation, or Voicebox, on April 2, 2018, which provided additional customer relationships and technology, and the winding down of costs to establish the Cerence business as a standalone public company drove a $6.2 million decrease in restructuring and other costs, net. For fiscal year 2021, subject to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we anticipate that our R&D expenses will return to representing the majority of our operating expenses as we focus on developing new products and advancing our core technologies.

Basis of Presentation

Fiscal 2020

The accompanying consolidated financial statements of the Company have been prepared in accordance with GAAP, and the rules and regulations of the SEC. The consolidated financial statements reflect all adjustments considered necessary for a fair presentation of the consolidated results of operations and financial position for the fiscal year presented. All such adjustments are of a normal recurring nature.

Fiscal 2019 and 2018

Standalone financial statements had not been historically prepared for the Cerence business. The accompanying combined financial statements have been prepared from the Parent’s historical accounting records and are presented on a “carve out” basis to include the historical financial position, results of operations and cash flows applicable to the Cerence business. As a direct ownership relationship did not exist among all the various business units comprising the Cerence business, Nuance’s investment in the Cerence business was shown in lieu of stockholders’ equity in the combined financial statements.

The Combined Statements of Operations included all revenues and costs directly attributable to Cerence as well as an allocation of expenses related to functions and services performed by centralized Parent organizations. These corporate expenses have been allocated to the Cerence business based on direct usage or benefit, where identifiable, with the remainder allocated on a pro rata basis of revenues, headcount, number of transactions or other measures as determined appropriate. The Combined Statements of Cash Flows presented these corporate expenses that are cash in nature as cash flows from operating activities, as this was the nature of these costs at the Parent. Non-cash expenses allocated from the Parent included corporate depreciation and amortization and stock-based compensation included as add-back adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operations.

The combined financial statements included the allocation of certain assets and liabilities that have historically been held at the Nuance corporate level or by shared entities, but which are specifically identifiable or allocable to the Cerence business. These shared assets and liabilities have been allocated to the Cerence business on the basis of direct usage when identifiable, or allocated on a pro rata basis of revenue, headcount or other systematic measures that reflect utilization of the services provided to or benefits received by Cerence. The Parent used a centralized approach to cash management and financing its operations. Accordingly, none of the cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, foreign currency hedges or debt and related interest expense had been allocated to the Cerence business in the combined financial statements. The Parent’s short and long-term debt had not been pushed down to the Cerence business’s combined financial statements because the Cerence business was not the legal obligor of the debt and the Parent’s borrowings were not directly attributable to the Cerence business.

35


 

Transactions between the Parent and the Cerence business are considered to be effectively settled in the combined financial statements at the time the transaction was recorded. The total net effect of the settlement of these intercompany transactions was reflected in the Combined Statements of Cash Flows as a financing activity and in the Combined Balance Sheets as net parent investment.

All of the allocations and estimates in the combined financial statements are based on assumptions which management believed are reasonable. However, the combined financial statements included herein may not be indicative of the financial position, results of operations and cash flows if the Cerence business had been a separate, standalone entity during the periods presented.

Comparability of Results

As of October 1, 2018, we adopted ASC 606 using the modified retrospective approach from the previous guidance, ASC 605. The adoption of ASC 606 limited the comparability of revenue and expenses, including cost of revenue and certain operating expenses, presented in the results of operations for the fiscal years 2020 and 2019, when compared to prior reporting periods.

Key Metrics

In evaluating our financial condition and operating performance, we focus on revenue, operating margins, and cash flow from operations.

For the fiscal year 2020 as compared to fiscal year 2019:

 

Total revenue increased by $26.3 million, or 8.7%, from $303.3 million to $329.6 million.

 

Operating margin increased 2.3 percentage points from 3.6% to 5.9%.

 

Cash provided by operating activities decreased by $43.3 million, or 49.1%, from $88.1 million to $44.8 million.

For fiscal year 2019 as compared to fiscal year 2018:

 

Total revenue increased by $26.3 million, or 9.5%, from $277.0 million to $303.3 million.

 

Operating margin decreased by 9.7 percentage points from 13.3% to 3.6%.

 

Cash provided by operating activities decreased by $27.2 million, or 23.6%, from $115.3 million to $88.1 million.

36


 

Operating Results

The following table shows the consolidated statement of operations for the fiscal year 2020 and the combined statement of operations for the fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2018 (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 605)

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

License

 

$

164,268

 

 

$

172,379

 

 

$

171,075

 

Connected services

 

 

96,148

 

 

 

78,690

 

 

 

60,227

 

Professional services

 

 

69,230

 

 

 

52,246

 

 

 

45,682

 

Total revenues

 

 

329,646

 

 

 

303,315

 

 

 

276,984

 

Cost of revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

License

 

 

2,783

 

 

 

2,069

 

 

 

1,156

 

Connected services

 

 

31,768

 

 

 

37,562

 

 

 

32,919

 

Professional services

 

 

64,963

 

 

 

51,214

 

 

 

41,123

 

Amortization of intangibles

 

 

8,337

 

 

 

8,498

 

 

 

7,766

 

Total cost of revenues

 

 

107,851

 

 

 

99,343

 

 

 

82,964

 

Gross profit

 

 

221,795

 

 

 

203,972

 

 

 

194,020

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development

 

 

88,899

 

 

 

93,061

 

 

 

80,957

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

33,398

 

 

 

36,261

 

 

 

30,553

 

General and administrative

 

 

49,386

 

 

 

25,926

 

 

 

19,873

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

 

12,544

 

 

 

12,524

 

 

 

8,840

 

Restructuring and other costs, net

 

 

18,237

 

 

 

24,404

 

 

 

12,863

 

Acquisition-related costs

 

 

 

 

 

944

 

 

 

4,082

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

202,464

 

 

 

193,120

 

 

 

157,168

 

Income from operations

 

 

19,331

 

 

 

10,852

 

 

 

36,852

 

Interest income

 

 

585

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(22,737

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other income (expense), net

 

 

(23,319

)

 

 

332

 

 

 

(54

)

(Loss) income before income taxes

 

 

(26,140

)

 

 

11,184

 

 

 

36,798

 

(Benefit from) provision for income taxes

 

 

(5,509

)

 

 

(89,084

)

 

 

30,917

 

Net (loss) income

 

$

(20,631

)

 

$

100,268

 

 

$

5,881

 

 

Our revenue consists primarily of license revenue, connected services revenue and revenue from professional services. License revenue primarily consists of license royalties associated with our edge software components, with costs of license revenue primarily consisting of third-party royalty expenses for certain external technologies we leverage. Connected services revenue represents the subscription fee that provides access to our connected services components, including the customization and construction of our connected services solutions. Cost of connected service revenue primarily consists of labor costs of software delivery services, infrastructure, and communications fees that support our connected services solutions. Professional services revenue is primarily comprised of porting, integrating, and customizing our embedded solutions, with costs primarily consisting of compensation for services personnel, contractors and overhead.

Our operating expenses include R&D, sales and marketing and general and administrative expenses. R&D expenses primarily consist of salaries, benefits, and overhead relating to research and engineering staff. Sales and marketing expenses includes salaries, benefits, and commissions related to our sales, product marketing, product management, and business unit management teams. General and administrative expenses primarily consist of personnel costs for administration, finance, human resources, general management, fees for external professional advisers including accountants and attorneys, and provisions for doubtful accounts.

Amortization of acquired patents and core technology are included within cost of revenues whereas the amortization of other intangible assets, such as acquired customer relationships, trade names and trademarks, are included within operating expenses. Customer relationships are amortized over their estimated economic lives based on the pattern of economic benefits expected to be generated from the use of the asset. Other identifiable intangible assets are amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives.

37


 

Restructuring costs are costs related to reorganizing various business units, including costs associated with employee severance, closing and opening facilities, terminating contracts, and separation costs related to establishing Cerence business as a standalone public company.

Acquisition-related costs include transition and integration costs, professional service fees, and fair value adjustments related to business and asset acquisitions, including potential acquisitions.

Other income (expense), net consists primarily of interest income, interest expense, foreign exchange gains (losses), and net gain (loss) from other non-operating activities.

Fiscal Year 2020 Compared with Fiscal Year 2019 and Fiscal Year 2019 Compared with Fiscal Year 2018

Total Revenues

 

The following table shows total revenues by product type, including the corresponding percentage change (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

% Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

% of Total

 

 

2019

 

 

% of Total

 

 

2018

 

 

% of Total

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ASC 605)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

License

 

$

164,268

 

 

50%

 

 

$

172,379

 

 

57%

 

 

$

171,075

 

 

62%

 

 

 

(5

)%

 

 

1

%

Connected services

 

 

96,148

 

 

29%

 

 

 

78,690

 

 

26%

 

 

 

60,227

 

 

22%

 

 

 

22

%

 

 

31

%

Professional services

 

 

69,230

 

 

21%

 

 

 

52,246

 

 

17%

 

 

 

45,682

 

 

16%

 

 

 

33

%

 

 

14

%

Total revenues

 

$

329,646

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

303,315

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

276,984

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

%

 

 

10

%

 

Fiscal Year 2020 Compared with Fiscal Year 2019

Total revenues fiscal year 2020 were $329.6 million, an increase of $26.3 million, or 8.7%, from $303.3 million from fiscal year 2019. This growth was primarily driven by increased demand for our connected and professional solutions.

License Revenue

License revenue for fiscal year 2020 was $164.3 million, a decrease of $8.1 million, or 4.7%, from $172.4 million for fiscal year 2019. The decrease in license revenue was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in declining reported royalties from ongoing agreements. As a percentage of total revenue, license revenue decreased by 7.0 percentage points from 56.8% for fiscal year 2019 to 49.8% for fiscal year 2020.

Connected Services Revenue

Connected services revenue for fiscal year 2020 was $96.1 million, an increase of $17.5 million, or 22.2%, from $78.7 million for fiscal year 2019. This increase was primarily driven by continued market penetration from our connected services solutions as our customers increasingly deploy hybrid solutions. As a percentage of total revenue, connected services revenue increased by 3.3 percentage points from 25.9% for fiscal year 2019 to 29.2% for fiscal year 2020.

Professional Services Revenue

Professional services revenue for fiscal year 2020 was $69.2 million, an increase of $17.0 million, or 32.5%, from $52.2 million for fiscal year 2019. This increase was primarily driven by demand for the integration and customization services related to our edge software and the timing of services rendered. As a percentage of total revenue, professional services revenue increased by 3.8 percentage points from 17.2% for fiscal year 2019 to 21.0% for fiscal year 2020.

Fiscal Year 2019 Compared with Fiscal Year 2018

Our total revenues for fiscal year 2019 were $303.3 million, an increase of $26.3 million, or 9.5%, from $277.0 million from fiscal year 2018. This growth was primarily driven by increased demand for our connected and professional solutions

38


 

License Revenue

License revenue for fiscal year 2019 was $172.4 million, an increase of $1.3 million, or 0.8%, from $171.1 million for fiscal year 2018. License revenue increased primarily due to a higher volume of licensing royalties from new and existing customers. As a percentage of total revenue, license revenue decreased by 5.0 percentage points from 61.8% for fiscal year 2018 to 56.8% for fiscal year 2019.

Connected Services Revenue

Connected services revenue for fiscal year 2019 was $78.7 million, an increase of $18.5 million, or 30.7%, from $60.2 million for fiscal year 2018. This increase was primarily driven by greater demand for our connected services solutions as our customers increasingly deploy hybrid solutions. As a percentage of total revenue, connected services revenue increased by 4.2 percentage points from 21.7% for fiscal year 2018 to 25.9% for fiscal year 2019.

Professional Services Revenue

Professional services revenue for fiscal year 2019 was $52.2 million, an increase of $6.6 million, or 14.4%, from $45.7 million for fiscal year 2018. This increase was primarily driven by demand for the integration and customization services related to our edge software and the timing of services rendered. As a percentage of total revenue, professional services revenue increased by 0.7 percentage points from 16.5% for fiscal year 2018 to 17.2% for fiscal year 2019.

Total Cost of Revenues and Gross Profits

The following table shows total cost of revenues by product type and the corresponding percentage change (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

% Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 605)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

License

 

$

2,783

 

 

$

2,069

 

 

$

1,156

 

 

 

35

%

 

 

79

%

Connected services

 

 

31,768

 

 

 

37,562

 

 

 

32,919

 

 

 

(15

)%

 

 

14

%

Professional services

 

 

64,963

 

 

 

51,214

 

 

 

41,123

 

 

 

27

%

 

 

25

%

Amortization of intangibles

 

 

8,337

 

 

 

8,498

 

 

 

7,766

 

 

 

(2

)%

 

 

9

%

Total cost of revenues

 

$

107,851

 

 

$

99,343

 

 

$

82,964

 

 

 

9

%

 

 

20

%

 

The following table shows total gross profit by product type and the corresponding percentage change (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

% Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 606)

 

 

(ASC 605)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

License

 

$

161,485

 

 

$

170,310

 

 

$

169,919

 

 

 

(5

)%

 

 

0

%

Connected services

 

 

64,380

 

 

 

41,128

 

 

 

27,308

 

 

 

57

%

 

 

51

%

Professional services

 

 

4,267

 

 

 

1,032

 

 

 

4,559

 

 

 

313

%

 

 

(77

)%

Amortization of intangibles

 

 

(8,337

)

 

 

(8,498

)

 

 

(7,766

)

 

 

(2

)%

 

 

9

%

Total gross profit

 

$

221,795

 

 

$

203,972

 

 

$

194,020

 

 

 

9

%

 

 

5

%

 

Fiscal Year 2020 Compared with Fiscal Year 2019

Total cost of revenues for fiscal year 2020 were $107.9 million, an increase of $8.5 million, or 8.6%, from $99.3 million for fiscal year 2019. The increase in cost of revenues resulted primarily from our investments in professional services staff to meet customer program demands.

We experienced an increase in total gross profit of $17.8 million, or 8.7%, from $204.0 million to $221.8 million, which was primarily driven by increased demand for our connected services solutions and professional services.

Cost of License Revenue

Cost of license revenue for fiscal year 2020 was $2.8 million, an increase of $0.7 million, or 34.5%, from $2.1 million for fiscal year 2019. Cost of license revenues increased due to third-party royalty expenses associated with external technologies we leverage in

39


 

our edge software components. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of license revenue increased by 0.5 percentage points from 2.1% for fiscal year 2019 to 2.6% for fiscal year 2020.

License gross profit decreased by $8.8 million, or 5.2%, primarily due to declines in license revenue recognized during the year.

Cost of Connected Services Revenue

Cost of connected services revenue for fiscal year 2020 was $31.8 million, a decrease of $5.8 million, or 15.4%, from $37.6 million for fiscal year 2019. Cost of connected services revenue decreased primarily as a result of lower internal allocated costs. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of connected service revenue decreased by 8.3 percentage points from 37.8% for fiscal year 2019 to 29.5% for fiscal year 2020.

 

Connected services gross profit increased $23.3 million, or 56.5%, from $41.1 million to $64.4 million which was primarily due to connected services revenue growth on relatively fixed cloud infrastructure costs.

 

Cost of Professional Services Revenue

Cost of professional services revenue fiscal year 2020 was $65.0 million, an increase of $13.7 million, or 26.8%, from $51.2 million for fiscal year 2019. Cost of professional services revenue increased primarily due to our investments in professional services staff to meet customer program demands. Investments included increases in internally allocated labor costs of $4.3 million, compensation-related expenses of $3.3 million, and stock-based compensation expenses of $3.1 million. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of professional services revenue increased by 8.6 percentage points from 51.6% for fiscal year 2019 to 60.2% for fiscal year 2020.

Professional services gross profit increased $3.2 million, or 313.5%, from $1.0 million to $4.3 million which was primarily due to increases in professional services revenue recognized and continued cost reduction measures.

Fiscal Year 2019 Compared with Fiscal Year 2018

Our total cost of revenues for fiscal year 2019 were $99.3 million, an increase of $16.4 million, or 19.7%, from $83.0 million for fiscal year 2018. The increase in cost of revenues resulted primarily from the growth of our cloud-based connected services revenue, which required an increase in cloud-based infrastructure and employee costs, and our investments in professional services staff to meet customer program demands. We also experienced an increase in amortization of intangible assets that was included in costs of revenues primarily due to our acquisition of Voicebox on April 2, 2018, which increased the carrying value of our total intangible assets.

We experienced an increase in gross profit of $10.0 million, or 5.1%, from $194.0 million to $204.0 million which was primarily driven by increased demand for our connected services solutions

Cost of License Revenue

Cost of license revenue for fiscal year 2019 were $2.1 million, an increase of $0.9 million, or 79.0%, from $1.2 million for fiscal year 2018. Cost of license revenues increased due to third-party royalty expenses associated with external technologies we leverage in our edge software components. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of license revenue increased by 0.7 percentage points from 1.4% for fiscal year 2018 to 2.1% for fiscal year 2019.

License gross profit increased $0.4 million, or 0.2%, from $169.9 million to $170.3 million since costs associated with license royalties are minimal.

Cost of Connected Services Revenue

Cost of connected services revenue for fiscal year 2019 were $37.6 million, an increase of $4.6 million, or 14.1%, from $32.9 million for fiscal year 2018. Cost of connected services revenue increased primarily as a result of the growth of cloud-based connected services revenue from new and existing customers utilizing our software delivery services for hybrid solutions. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of connected service revenue decreased by 1.9 percentage points from 39.7% for fiscal year 2018 to 37.8% for fiscal year 2019.

Connected services gross profit increased $13.8 million, or 50.6%, from $27.3 million to $41.1 million, which was primarily due to connected services revenue growth on relatively fixed cloud infrastructure and employee costs.

40


 

Cost of Professional Services Revenue

Cost of professional services revenue for fiscal year 2019 were $51.2 million, an increase of $10.1 million, or 24.5%, from $41.1 million for fiscal year 2018. Cost of professional services revenue increased primarily due to our investments in professional services staff to meet customer program demands. As a percentage of total cost of revenue, cost of professional services revenue increased by 2.0 percentage points from 49.6% for fiscal year 2018 to 51.6% for fiscal year 2019.

Professional services gross profit decreased $3.5 million, or 77.4%, from $4.6 million to $1.0 million, which was primarily due to changes made to our professional services pricing strategy and continued cost reduction measures.

Operating Expenses

The tables below show each component of operating expense. Other income (expense), net and provision for income taxes are non-operating expenses and presented in a similar format (dollars in thousands).

R&D Expenses

 

 

 

Year Ended September 30,

 

 

% Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

Research and development

 

$

88,899

 

 

$