ShotSpotter Public Offering Goes Nuts! Why?

“Investors greeted ShotSpotter with a warm reception on Wednesday, on its first day as a public company,” techcrunch.com. “After pricing the IPO at $11, the stock closed at $13.86, or up about 26 percent.” Here’s a question: why? And here’s an answer: political correctness.

ShotSpotter notifies police departments about gun violence by using sensors that ignore ambient noise. Their sophisticated technology alerts authorities within 45 seconds of the trigger being pulled.

It’s currently used in about 90 cities, including New York, Chicago and San Francisco. ShotSpotter estimates that about 80 percent of gun violence goes unreported, and they are in the process of convincing municipalities worldwide that their technology will reduce fatalities.

Not true! ShotSpotter is trying to convince municipalities worldwide that voters will think the technology will reduce fatalities. Because there is no convincing evidence that the company’s hugely expensive system makes any appreciable effect on “gun violence.”

As we’ve reported ever since ShotSpotter appeared on TTAG’s radar. And an anecdotal evidence from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suggests that ShotSpotter is as useless as Anne Frank’s drum set. [Note: I’m Jewish.] “It provided no useful data and was usually broken anyway,” TTAG’s resident war hero reveals.

But again, it’s all about perception. And make no mistake, perception pays! Or, in this case, misperception.

According to CEO Ralph Clark, it’s not just about catching assailants, but they hope to deter crime also. “No police response leads to normalization of gun violence,” he claims.

ShotSpotter makes money by charging local governments on an annual subscription basis. According to their IPO filing, they had just $15.5 million in revenue last year and $11.8 million the year before. Losses increased from $6.2 million to $6.9 million in that time frame.

So not the best business in the world, even with their appeal to politicians desperate to spend taxpayer’s money to be seen to be doing something about “gun violence.” Which is why the IPO raised a relatively paltry $30 million (gushing headline notwithstanding). Needless to say, ShotSpotter execs think the future’s so bright their wearing ear muffs.

They are optimistic they will expand to more cities, because clearly “gun violence is a fairly big problem in the U.S. and globally,” said Clark. “We want to continue to invest in customer success,” he said.

Seems ShotSpotter has stopped trying to get their system into schools. And as far as “customer success” is concerned, picture or it didn’t happen. Here we are! Just remember: correlation doesn’t equal causation, how much did it cost The City By The Bay and where’s a specific example of a criminal caught because of Shotspotter? O.K., go!

Just for context, here’s an excerpt from a 2014 article in sfgate.com entitled Oakland cops aim to scrap gunfire-detecting ShotSpotter:

The system, which costs the department $264,000 a year, is expensive and redundant, police contend. They say residents already call to alert police when they hear gunfire, and the money could be better used to fund other technology, such as the police helicopter.

On the positive side, ShotSpotter claims it can detect suppressed gunfire as well as unsuppressed shots. Which bolsters the Hearing Protection Act. Anyway, I’ll give John Wayne Taylor the final word. “I have a shot spotter,” JWT said, pointing to either side of his head. “My ears.”

comments

  1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    “Note: I’m Jewish.” I don’t understand why that should matter. I get why people think it matters. It’s because they are racists who think you being Jewish makes you inherently different from someone who isn’t Jewish. They believe someone who isn’t Jewish couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be Jewish because there is no universal human condition. The only reason a person of one race couldn’t understand what it is like to be a person of another race is that the races are inherently different. Or the first person is a sociopath incapable of empathy.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Pretty sure the “Note: I’m Jewish” was to offset any expected negative commentary about his Anne Frank having drums in the attic that she couldn’t play joke.

      1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        My point is that the only people who find acceptable for a Jew to say it, but not someone who isn’t Jewish is that they person is racist. I get that the murder of six million Jews and about six million other people is a bit of a touchy subject.

        Touchy subjects, handled properly, are also really funny. Not handled properly it’s usually just offensive. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llO6-IH4hBk.

    2. avatar AFGus says:

      Spoken like a true lawyer…. ?

      1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        Robert’s joke is funnier.

  2. avatar NEIOWA says:

    +26% isn’t exactly “goes nuts”. If you’d “invest” in Amazon, Telsa/Musk BS, Solyndra, etc that the progs believe in, then this POS is PERFECT. The market runs on estrogen not logic.

    1. avatar million says:

      Amazon, Tesla, Solyndra

      one of these things is not like the others

      hint: profit

      1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

        Which one?

        Oh. Amazon. I guess you could call it a profit. I will admit, their potential profit is virtually unlimited. I wish I’d bought that stock a few years ago.

      2. avatar CarlosT says:

        Actually, Tesla has never earned a profit, and until very recently, neither had Amazon.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Yep. What’s more is that lots of people fail to appreciate that most of Amazon’s “profits” actually come mostly from Prime membership sales – not actual sales of products.

        2. avatar 16V says:

          Tesls has burned $3B+. I will give that smarny South African one thing- he is incredibly good at extracting money from fools. People with much better looking cars can’t find cash, but somehow Elon cons them to continue to pay for his vanity project. Hopefully the “Model 3” will be the final nail in the coffin, but he never should have made it to producing the Roadster.

  3. avatar CZ Peasy says:

    This is actually a good indicator that the owners are trying to reap as much profit as possible before getting out, anticipating a company decline and eventual tits up scenario. Capitalize on IPO excitement and lock in profits by selling shares at highs while dumb public investor interest is peaking.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Yeah, I bit on one of those a while back. Lost $50K in about a year.

  4. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    Are chief decided against it he said he’d rather put more boots on the ground and more patrol cars on the road then to worry about something that just reports 45 seconds after the fact a gunshot went off. He says monitoring for gunshots is after the fact the crime has already been committed. Usually police get a nine-one-one call within 45 seconds of people hearing gunfire anyways. Just a big waste of money. This same company designed a unit very similar that is a mobile device and they try to sell it to the United States military and even had it over in Afghanistan when I was deployed there and found out that it had all kinds of software issues and was basically ineffective.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Your chief is smarter than many.

      All of those things are true. ShotSpotter is essentially a homeopathic remedy. i.e. bullshit with slick salesmanship behind it.

  5. avatar EJQ says:

    Let’s see. This will tell cops an approximate location of shots fired, in 45 seconds. Then there’s response time to a shooting. Let’s just say two minutes response time (yeah, most big cities would be longer) Almost a full three minutes, I’m dead and the shooter is long gone.

    So, just how is this supposed to prevent gun violence?

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Liberal magic.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Feelings+?=Profit

    2. avatar DaveL says:

      Well, you see, the shooter is supposed to have left the murder weapon behind, which of course would have been duly registered in his name, thereby leading the police right to him. </sarc>

    3. avatar Swarf says:

      That’s not the point. The point is to put money in the pockets of ShotSpotter’s owners.

      And that is the only purpose this craptech serves.

  6. avatar Alexander says:

    Having worked with acoustic shot detection system, I wouldn’t invest in one. Assuming the investment is based on its technical performance. Political performance, however, is a different animal. There, money has been rolling in for years.
    Note how they say that it can detect a suppressed gunshot. Actually, anyone who’s not totally deaf can detect a suppressed gunshot. The trick is to triangulate and determine its origin. That, the system cannot do.

  7. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    Yeah over and Afghanistan the unit they were testing they found out that it detected the sonic boom of jet aircraft going supersonic which happens in a combat zone about every hour to every 15 to 20 minutes and it totally wreck the system. Something to do with the sudden boom and it being over a certain decibel level it cause the entire system to fail and go down. But even when they had it working it was still slower then a platoon reacting to a sniper or an engagement situation where we’ve been ambushed usually within the first 30 rounds fired you know exactly what and where it’s coming from. I don’t need a $13,000 unit or $11,000 unit to tell me where I’m taking fire from that’s just a waste of money. It would seem that the liberal politicians will love this thing. They are the same politicians that love the red light cameras. Let us know when it can actually tell where the person is after the fact they’ve shot the pistol and then you may be able to sell it to someone LOL.

  8. avatar Big Bill says:

    I fail to see how Shotspotter is any different from people calling in a shots fired report. The response time is (or should be) exactly the same.
    Oh, wait – people don’t always call in on shots fired because they know that the criminal is usually gone when the police arrive, and all they do is bother people with questions that *might* actually help catch the perp, but Shotspotter can’t even answer those questions, can it?
    IOW, Shotspotter will help only if the response time is so slow that there’s no sense in even responding without it, because they will never get the call, because the people are tired of calling when nothing happens.
    Does that make sense???

  9. avatar K9 Handler says:

    Several Chicago Police Officers I have talked with about shot spotter have nothing but bad things to say. They are not even bothering to use the apps on their department issued phones. The data returns are completely useless and wrong over 50% of the time.
    Think even Second City blog had some negative things to say about the tech not working.

  10. avatar The Duke says:

    Great another tool to aid in police response to a crime that’s already happened. Police still don’t prevent crime, they respond to crime, no matter what your elected representatives tell you the only effective deterrent to crime is yourself.

    Stayed armed, stay safe

  11. avatar JohnnyIShootStuff says:

    Years ago we looked at purchasing (grant writing) to get shot spotter. It was crazy expensive and not really all that proven to stop shootings. Unless the company goes on a major lobbying spree to get grant money made available for the purchase and support of this system, I see few cash strapped cities spending the money. Where this tech is starting to appear is in wildlife protection and anti-poaching uses. There’s lots of NGO money out there to save the big mammals and they’re throwing money into tech right now.

  12. avatar Charlie says:

    It’s misleading to say that ShotSpotter “notifies police departments about gun violence.” It notifies police about a sound that resembles a gunshot.

    Surely the company wouldn’t mislead people on purpose.

  13. avatar Docduracoat says:

    Why all the hate on shot spotter?
    This particular technology is not yet all that effective
    I am certain that future models will be better
    When I watch videos of our troops in combat, I always see them looking around asking “where did that come from” when shots kick up dust at their feet
    Technology that would give them a direction and an elevation of incoming gunfire would be extremely useful for return fire
    When I called the police saying I heard shots fired, I could not tell them what direction or how far away they were
    It this technology would actually work, I could see it being useful
    Police could go directly to the scene of gunfire without having to search the entire area

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Having been exposed to early gunshot locator systems in East Palo Alto, CA in the early 90’s, I can see why it’s a counter-productive product.

      Here’s the Wikipedia write-up on the system I saw used around our offices on O’Brien road in the early 90’s:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfire_locator

      Now, at that time, because I was working in the at 1525 O’Brien Road in Menlo Park (which is literally across the street from East Palo Alto) and keeping late-night programming hours, I’d personally hear all manner of gunshots – sometimes, while I was outside, taking a break from looking at the NCD screen for hours. I could sometimes hear gunfire only a couple blocks away, and sometimes, we’d have spent 115gr 9mm ball rounds land in our parking lot. Once, we had a bullet go through a plate glass window.

      In mid to late 1992, when I’d hear gunshots and I thought I had some useful, actionable information, I’d call 911, get a police response (with lights and sirens, no less) …. and then I’d be interrogated like a war criminal about how I know a 9mm from a shotgun from a .22 shot. They’d want to search my vehicle, to see if I had a gun. They’d want to know why I was at the office that late, what was I doing, were there any other people in the building, and what were they doing.

      After getting this treatment several times, I quit calling 911.

      Their automated system didn’t know a tenth of what I know about a gunshot from standing outside and using my own ears. But then they couldn’t interrogate the automated system, so they’d just dutifully go into the area where the system said the shot came from… and do nothing.

      This was the period in my life where I came to the conclusion that most of the time, cops are useless for anything other than filling out paperwork.

    2. When I was on my second tour in Afghanistan they were trying to sell the same type of system shotspotter to the United States military. They found that ambient noise caused by jet aircraft breaking the sound barrier totally crash the system something to do with the pressure wave and the decibels. It turned out to be a big waste of time and money the military did not purchase it. You are trained to respond to enemy Fire coming in whether it be aircraft or artillery mortars IEDs or weapons fire. It’s called taking cover. By the time 45 seconds elapses 9.8% of the time you know exactly what type of rounds are coming at you and the direction they are coming from it’s not rocket science you watch too much TV brother. Now your typical distance of Engagement may vary sounds May radiate off of mountains like in Afghanistan which would make the shotspotter totally useless. Basically if you don’t know where the bullets coming from usually you’ve got a 5 to 600 m Target firing on you. And even then you’ll hear the crack of the supersonic rifle cartridge. It’s pretty easy to tell where your being fired on up until the time you start firing back. Then everything gets a little bit slow mo and your hearings pretty much gone unless somebody screaming right at you. But by usually that time you’re deep in it.

    3. avatar Hannibal says:

      ‘If X technology works, it would be useful…’

      Yeah. Solar roadways. Self-filling water bottles. The ‘underwater breathing gill’. Lots of technologies that would be plenty useful IF they worked.

      But they don’t. And in the meantime the BS peddlers selling them are making bank off of rubes that are thinking about how useful it WOULD be if the the many things in the way weren’t there. Except they are, and it doesn’t work, and there is an opportunity cost every time you sink millions into some boondogle that doesn’t work.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        That’s because. most people who go into elected office are liberal arts/humanities majors who don’t know jack about technology.

        I won’t bore you with the number of times I’ve communicated with state & local elected officials (both here in Wyoming and in Nevada) on issues of technology and policy, where the elected officials are deep out in the weeds. Invariably, I find that they don’t know their buttocks from any particular sun-warmed rock, and they don’t care.

      2. avatar 16V says:

        Hannibal, that’s the sad state of science education in the country. Any highschooler should be able to do the math and know that all those products were physically impossible.

  14. avatar Geoff PR says:

    The ‘hood rats are gonna have fun spoofing them with a firecracker using a cigarette for a time-delay fuse…

  15. avatar Joe R. says:

    They had Shot Spotter systems in Iraq. It would give you a perfect indication of where a shooter was. All you had to do is line up the bullet hole in the shot spotter dome to where the shooter was.

    1. Yep I agree. I thought it was my second deployment that I saw those goofballs trying to sell the military that unit it must have been my first tour in Iraq. But I remember the guys the contractors that were trying to use it in a couple of situations we came under Fire and their system detected fire but as soon as we started firing as well it crashed now I guarantee you they’ve got better software and Hardware by now but come on I think it was $11,000 per unit that’s one complete outfitted patrol car that’s nearly half the salary of a starting officer for one year service. I guarantee you if you see how much crime one patrol car in one deputy sheriff or one police officer prevents or stops in the process of crimes in one year’s time you will have spent your money way better on the police officer versus some fancy-dancy bullet detection device give me a break. People will call the police unless it’s usually really bad areas and they don’t like calling the police because they don’t want the police coming up to their door and asking them what exactly did you hear in fear of Retribution period and most of the time when units police units that is are responding to calls of shots fired in bad areas they wait for a second officer to accompany them so that they’ve got plenty of backup if something bad happens and they run into some real tough ombres. And by that time the shooter is long gone.

  16. avatar Rand says:

    So, it is smart enough to warn of gun violence? I thought it just detected a gunshot and determined the likely direction. Something like a red light camera leased to cities but more stupid and less income.

  17. avatar Noishkel says:

    Well that’s nice that you can tell when a shot happens. Now when are they going to get to the point where the cops will respond in anything less than an hour in any of those urban hellholes they are going to install this waste of money in?

    And that’s even before talk about how easy it is to just SHOOT THE DAMN THING.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      “Good evening, officers! ShotSpotter here, and I am reporting shots fi— boooop.”

  18. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Fools and their money are soon parted.

  19. avatar former water walker says:

    Dang I want one for neighborhood around July 4th?Capitalism is a good thing…

  20. avatar Joe says:

    Sounds like a classic investing example of buy the rumor, sell the news

  21. avatar Hannibal says:

    It’s a good idea to go public. Sell shares now while cities are doing anything to try and say “we’re addressing the problem!”

    Later on the stockholders will be left holding the bag. The fact that it’s a public company might shed a little sunlight on the bullshit around it. But maybe not. Scam ‘bomb-detectors’ were still being used in Iraq for years after they were known to be complete bullshit (based on the same tenants as homeopathy, I shit you not). A lot of people died in the meantime until the makers were shut down and thrown in prison.

  22. avatar BrooklynInDaHouse says:

    Pump and dump.

  23. avatar slow joe crow says:

    This seems ripe for exploitation with firecrackers or cap guns to get the police constantly chasing “shots fired” while real crime is quietly committed in the opposite direction.

  24. avatar ryan l says:

    . It’s not going to stop shootings that’s for sure. But it’s data about gunshots. Data that can be used by police to determine where to allocate assets such as beat cops and gang task forces. Lots of shots go unreported in rough neighborhoods, lots of false positives are reported all over as well. If a technology can help reduce calls to false positives and or give a more quantitative data set vs qualitative….I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      It’s not a ‘bad thing,’ but is it necessary?
      What does it do? It tells the police where a gunshot happens. Sort of.
      This is the same thing that a ‘shots fired’ call from the local people does.
      A question that has to be asked is this: Why don’t people make the ‘shots fired’ calls? That is certainly less expensive than Shotspotter. The answer is simple: Response time is too long, and any response that does come doesn’t result in less crime. Shotspotter won’t help with that at all.
      SHotspotter is just another way to spend money on “public safety” that doesn’t enhance public safety. It makes the city look like it’s doing something, when it really isn’t.
      And the really sad thing is: The city knows it doesn’t help lower crime.

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