Kymeta Raises $50M To Upend Satellite Antenna Business
July 9th, 2013 by Benjamin Romano
Satellite antenna maker Kymeta may be only a year old, but with a $50 million financing round and the technology backing of Intellectual Ventures, the company can hardly be called a startup.
The Redmond, WA, company—which uses patented metamaterials to make antennae that it says will beat existing technologies on size, weight, power requirements, and cost—raised the Series C funding from Osage University Partners and The Kresge Foundation, which joined existing investors Bill Gates, Lux Capital, and Liberty Global, in what president and chief operating officer Bob McCambridge describes as an oversubscribed round.
Kymeta has raised a total of $62 million since spinning out of Bellevue, WA-based Intellectual Ventures last August, and now has enough cash to operate until it begins generating commercial sales from its own branded products, which McCambridge says should occur in early 2015. It is already bringing in revenue from agreements with satellite companies such as Inmarsat, with which it is developing an antenna for delivering high-speed broadband access to jets.
Kymeta is the second stand-alone company to emerge from Intellectual Ventures, the controversial—and lucrative—effort of former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold to acquire intellectual property and license it to technology companies, or sue those who violate its patents.
For the last decade, Intellectual Ventures (IV) has been amassing a metamaterials “intellectual property treasure trove,” McCambridge says, primarily from Duke University, University of California San Diego, and Imperial College of London. “It’s a very massive new field and one that IV was quite prescient in thinking would be very important and valuable,” he says.
McCambridge offers this “non-technologist’s” definition of metamaterials: “A category of synthetic materials that have properties that don’t occur naturally in any organic state.” For Kymeta’s purposes, this means properties that “create a holographic image that can be used to acquire a satellite signal and then track it without any mechanical parts.”
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