Future Potential

December 03, 2016:

Karen Starr approaches Pepper Potts for a possible business collaboration.

Stark Industries



Mentions: Tony Stark


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Power Girl's been dealing with her own dimensional wibbly-wobbliness of late, and that's never good. It means you can't be sure what's going on with things. So, having come back and sat down to do a review of Starrware's business ventures, it's opened her eyes to some new possibilities on that front. At least new as far as she can tell. With the dance of administrative assistants played out…her people called Pepper's people, emails were sent, arrangements were made…and now Karen Starr finds herself heading into Stark Industries to meet with Ms. Potts.

As was the case with another recent meeting, Pepper is waiting for Ms. Starr in the lobby by the front desk. She smiles and steps forward to greet Karen when she enters the lobby.

"Ms. Starr, hello. So glad you could make it. I hope traffic wasn't too bad?"

Karen walks over. She's a tall woman to start with, and in heels, even more so. A few long strides carry her through the lobby, and she smiles to the red-haired woman. "It's New York; traffic's just something you allow for. Thankfully, it's not a very long trip." She'll offer a hand. "A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Potts."

Pepper Potts says, “Likewise. Shall we get started?" Pepper shakes Karen's hand readily then leads her over to the front desk for a visitor's badge. With that quickly and efficiently done, she then leads the way to a conference room at the far end of the lobby.

Once they're settled and an assistant has offered beverages, Pepper sets her tablet on the table. "So. You're wanting to start up a new venture, Ms. Starr?"”

Karen follows Pepper's lead, and heads to the conference room, tea near her hand thanks to the assistant. "I was certainly thinking it might be a good idea. Will Mr. Stark be joining us today, or will it just be you and I for the preliminaries?" she asks.

"It's just us for now, though Mr. Stark will be reviewing any agreements we make, as he has final approval or veto power." Pepper takes a sip of her own tea, then folds her hands together. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, Starrware's been funding a good deal of cutting-edge research, of late." Karen crosses her legs and moves into the pitch. "The problem with that, of course, is that it's all speculative. Someone hits a homerun on their research and you multiply your initial investment exponentially…but they come up a dud and you're out your investment. I want to diversify some. Move into some baseline manufacturing and supply. Problem is, currently Starrware doesn't have the manufacturing facilities to make that feasible. We could make our own, but that's more capital, as well as startup time. To be honest, I'd rather bypass that as much as I can." A sip of her tea, then she continues. "Stark Industries, by contrast, has manufacturing facilities galore. You're pretty much the go-to name for cutting edge hardware. But unless you're secreting things away off the market, I don't think even your top-end products match Starrware on the software level. I'm proposing a joint venture. Stark Industries supplies manufacturing and hardware expertise, Starrware funds the material acquisition costs and provides the software. Consumer electronics likely being a sweet-spot for first go. We each tap each other's strong suits, we each make a healthy chunk of cash. I get the diversification I'm looking for, you get a strong corporate partnership."

Pepper's expression stays neutral, but she does raise one eyebrow. "If I may ask, Ms. Starr, what brand of cellphone do you carry?" She taps at the screen of her tablet a few times, then when making a lifting motion over the device causes a holographic image to appear. If the younger-looking woman knows how to read the data displayed there, she'll recognize that it's a chart of all of the cellular signals in a pre-determined area, filtered by distance from the tablet itself.

"My company's own design, of course. After all, what's the benefit of being an R&D firm if you can't make use of the best tech for yourself." She seems…impressed…by the hologram, but impressed in a "huh, didn't think they'd have that" kind of way more than in a "what is this technowizardry?!" sort of way. Her cell reads on it, of course; the tech is impressive, but she's just using a standard carrier for the signal. "Why do you ask?"

A female voice with a faintly Irish lilt to it suddenly speaks up from seemingly everywhere in the room. "Ms. Potts, the carrier signal originating 1.206 meters in front of you is a standard ultrawideband CDMA technology." Then a second voice, male and with a genteel British accent adds, "I am unable to access the device in question, Miss Potts. Please do proceed with caution. Shall I notify Sir of the possibility of a breach in security?"

"Thank you, FRIDAY, and no, JARVIS, it's fine." Her eyes not so much as straying from Karen make it clear that her reassurance to the male voice had better not be a lie. A wave of her hand makes the holoimage disappear again. "Sorry. After several events in the not so distant past, JARVIS tends to be rather security conscious. What sorts of hardware would you be wanting to manufacture? Retail electronics, proprietary systems, or something for the medical or military sectors?"

That gets the blonde's eyebrows to lift. "Virtual intelligence at least. Full-on artificial intelligence, possibly. And not one, but two, so a replicated process." Well, despite having the looks of a blonde supermodel, it looks like she's got more than the brains of one. "Impressive. I see you're holding back your best toys from market. Of course, I'd expect nothing less. But still, that's impressive." Her own phone, of course, is some of the best tech she could muster herself, which means alien advances. She addresses not Pepper, but the AI directly. "Your vigilance does you proud, JARVIS, but I assure you, I'm here on legitimate business. If it would make you feel better, I'd be happy to power down my phone for the duration of the meeting." And then, after her little diversion into AI rights, it's back to Pepper. "My first thought was retail electronics. On the other hand, I'd be just as happy to look into something medical. I would prefer to stay away from the military sector. Besides, given Stark Industries' background, I doubt anything I could bring to the table is going to come close to what you already have in that field."

While she doesn't visibly react to Karen's promptly placing both FRIDAY and JARVIS as AIs, Pepper can't help but smile a bit to herself when the woman addresses JARVIS directly. Too few people actually do that, and she's spent more than enough time working closely with the elder of the two AIs to NOT think of him as an actual person.

"Retail electronics would be simple enough, though I'm not sure Tony would be too keen on our factories making items that are a direct competition to the StarkPhones and similar. The medical I think would be worth looking into more."

"I'm not trying to be competition. I'm trying to make this something that's a value-added proposal to both of us." Karen offers. "I'm more than willing to take suggestions and input. Honestly, at this step of the process, I suspect we're more at the vetting whether or not to work together than the details of it. I'm sure once Mr. Stark and I sit down, we can hash out all the broad strokes before legal gets their hands on it." Honestly, if she negotiates with Tony, that might be a point in her favor…Mr. Stark's reputation as a ladies' man is a thing of legend, after all. She will, however, go ahead and power down her own phone with a touch to it…just to give JARVIS a little peace of mind.

"Let's focus on the medical angle then," Pepper says with a nod. She smiles as the phone is powered off, then continues. "Here is the scanning and diagnostic suite that we're currently putting through beta test. It's a single unit that, once it's in production, can be used to monitor a patient's condition, analyze the data collected with a series of scans the simplest of which is an MRI, and then assist the medical staff with the treatments and maintenance procedures recommended. One example is for the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing preventive measures for cancer."

"I might be able to lend something to that effort." After all, Kryptonian tech is beyond Earth tech, but even among Kryptonian tech, medical and genetic work is where they REALLY shine. She'll slide her phone out of her pocket again. "JARVIS, do you have a virtual server I could transfer some information to for you to look over?" She isn't going to hand over a fully functional Kryptonian medlab to them, but even "dumbing it down" some to remove the active genetic manipulation and just leaving the sensors, it should still be absolute bleeding edge for Earth. There should be SOMETHING in there of use to them.

"Of course, Ms. Starr. I am allocating server space for your use now," The AI replies. Pepper again pulls up a holo image, this time something to view the new virtual server as it's created and allocated, and then a passkey is dispayed for Karen to use if desired.

Karen will reactivate her phone, and take a moment, editing the specs of what she's looking at, as she mentioned before. She'll leave out anything that allows synthesis or manipulation; scanners only. And even then, she'll leave out one or two critical points. Enough that JARVIS or Tony could take a look at it and realize what it does, but enough that they'd have to reinvent the wheel unless she provides the missing pieces once they have an agreement. A few moments of thumb-on-interface, and she transmits the specs into the virtual server. "Take a look and see how that might align with your project."

The holoimage fills with code that scrolls for a moment, then it winks out and a virtual user interface appears in its place. Clearly, JARVIS is putting the software through its paces. Pepper watches with mild interest, because while she might not admit it openly, JARVIS wrangling software is just kind of fun to watch. After a few minutes, the simulation stops.

"Miss Potts, I calculate an eighty-nine percent likelihood of successful integration of this software platform with our diagnostic equipment if installed as is. Once the critical functional components are in place."

Pepper looks suitably impressed. "That's not bad at all. I think we should go with this. FRIDAY, please draft up a proposal and a collaborative agreement for Starrware to work with Stark Industries' medical equipment division."

"The documents are ready, Miss Potts." The holoimage changes from the user interface to the aforementioned documents so that both women can read them over and make amendments/revisions as they choose.

Karen's eyes flit over to it. "Sadly, I'm not an AI." she says, smiling. "I'll have to have my legal people take a look over everything, but I don't guess that should take more than a day or two. I'll get it right over to them." Indeed; she'll save the documents JARVIS provides, and forward them immediately to Starrware's legal team. "Do we want to keep this on the down-low, or shall we make some kind of press release?" she asks. "I know Mr. Stark likes to manage things for maximum social impact." A tactful way of addressing Tony's flamboyant nature.

Pepper Potts smiles. "Take all the time you need to review it. And I'll get our PR group to work up an announcement once the agreement's settled and the ink is dry. Never a good idea to jump the gun." She waves away the holoimage again, knowing that FRIDAY's made sure that copies were sent to Karen's phone, and moves to stand. "Thank you for approaching us, Ms. Starr. I'm looking forward to where our companies can take medical diagnostic technology."

Karen stands as well. "As am I. And pleased to move forward together. Always nice to make new friends." Her phone gets turned off again, and put away, and she smiles. "I trust we'll be speaking soon, Ms. Potts. It was very nice meeting you." And getting a couple surprises on Stark technology.

Pepper Potts offers Karen a handshake. "We will most definitely be speaking again soon. And I now know that having FRIDAY or JARVIS contact you won't be any disruption, and that helps me considerably." Mostly because neither of them are known for losing patience with anyone that isn't named Tony Stark.

Karen smiles. "Not at all. I'd be happy to speak with either of them. In that case, I'm sure you have a busy day, and I know I do." She shakes Pepper's hand. "I'll be back in touch as soon as possible." And with that, she'll start to make her way out.

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