Satellite communications startup Kymeta lands $50M from Bill Gates, others
BY JOHN COOK on
Kymeta Corp., the satellite communications startup that spun out of Intellectual Ventures, has scored $50 million in venture funding.
Backers of the Redmond company — led by serial entrepreneur Vern Fotheringham — include Bill Gates, Lux Capital, Liberty Global were joined in the financing by Osage University Partners and The Kresge Foundation. The company spun out of Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures last year with $12 million, including cash from Gates who sits on the board. Today’s series C round marks one of the biggest so far in the Seattle technology community, outpacing the $45 million that Apptio raised in May.
Kymeta’s products include a portable satellite broadband receiver, about the size of a laptop, that promises to make it easier, less expensive and more energy-efficient to get a strong wireless signal anywhere in the world. The technology, being developed under the mTenna brand, could be used to deliver stronger broadband signals to moving trucks, cars, planes and vessels.
Back in March, Fotheringham suggested that Kymeta was on the path to becoming a billion dollar company, a bold statement given that its technology has yet to hit the market.
“It’s a very big global market. We have extraordinary sponsorship,” said Fotheringham, who previously founded Advanced Radio Telecom. “We definitely believe we’re on a trajectory towards becoming a public company.”
But the idea of beaming broadband Internet from the sky hasn’t always worked out. Gates, Paul Allen, Craig McCaw and others previously sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into Teledesic, a company that also promised to deliver broadband through satellite technologies.
Like Teledesic, Kymeta is operating in what’s known as the Ka-band frequency. The company recently noted that its technology was used in conjunction with a Ka-band DTH satellite to transport high definition TV signals, touting that it marked the first time that that feat had been achieved.
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