Revenue Recognition and Multiple Deliverables: Disentangling Revenue Streams at Fluidigm
Revenue recognition is a critical issue for companies. Proper revenue accounting can be complex, particularly when vendors provide a mix of products and services, making it difficult to determine the appropriate timing and amount of revenue to be recognized. Financial reporting standards require disentangling multiple revenue streams to ensure that revenue is not recognized before it is earned. Compliance with recognition standards can affect access to capital, firm valuation, and employee bonuses. Errors can have severe consequences, including earning restatements. The case discusses key issues in revenue recognition, with particular focus on transactions with multiple deliverables. It uses Fluidigm Corporation to illustrate revenue recognition principles. This company sells a range of products, including analytical instruments, disposables, software, and services. The case also illustrates the evolving nature of revenue recognition standards, and the consequences of guidance changes on financial reporting and company procedures.