kymetaKymeta 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.

billgatessmall11“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.

Here’s a look at the technology:

Here’s the full press release on the funding.

Kymeta Corporation announced today that it has successfully closed a $50 million Series C financing to accelerate the company’s growth plans. Kymeta, a privately held technology company, designs and manufactures satellite communication antennas and systems. Existing Kymeta investors including Bill Gates, Lux Capital and Liberty Global were joined in the financing by Osage University Partners and The Kresge Foundation.

The company is pioneering the use of patented metamaterials technology that dynamically steers antenna beams with no moving parts, resulting in flat, thin, light, and highly adaptable antennas and communication terminals. This unique capability opens numerous new opportunities in the satellite industry to provide new broadband mobile services and highly-flexible portable and fixed services to a wide range of applications. Both CNBC and MIT Technology Review recently recognized Kymeta as one of the “Top 50 Most Disruptive Technology Companies in the World.”

“We are fortunate to have earned this level of sponsorship,” said Kymeta Chief Executive Officer Vern Fotheringham. “It is a clear testament to the progress we’ve made to date proving our unique technology is poised to make significant contributions to the advancement of global broadband connectivity enabling high-speed communication services to businesses, consumers, governments and NGOs regardless of their location worldwide.”

“Lux Capital is extraordinarily excited about the market potential for Kymeta’s technology,” said Josh Wolfe, managing partner at Lux Capital and a Kymeta board member. “In just the past few months, Kymeta has entered into commercial development agreements with several of the satellite industry’s leading service providers and we’re really only getting started.”

In addition, Fotheringham announced several key promotions on Kymeta’s senior leadership team, including the promotion of Bob McCambridge to president and chief operating officer. Co-founder Dr. Nathan Kundtz was promoted to executive vice president and chief technology officer, and John Schilling to executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Our leadership team has executed flawlessly since inception, and exceeded every metric that we established to measure our progress,” said Fotheringham. “I have tremendous confidence in their capabilities. Their combined contributions have underscored our rapid progress that inspired the confidence our existing and new investors have demonstrated with this significant financing. Kymeta is now positioned to move from our period of technology refinement into the product development stage leading to the commercial launch of our game changing solutions.”

“Kymeta is leading the commercialization of metamaterials-based innovation in satellite communications,” stated Casey Tegreene, executive vice president at Intellectual Ventures and a Kymeta board member. “We are thrilled to see the rapid progress since the spinout from Intellectual Ventures in August 2012.”

About Kymeta Corporation

Kymeta Corporation is commercializing a new, innovative metamaterials-based antenna for satellite communications. The Company is based in Redmond, Washington and operates on a worldwide basis. For more information, please visit www.kymetacorp.com.

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Comments

  • Guest

    This will be pretty cool tech. I think it would be used a lot in military applications as well as civilian. Having the ability to link to a satellite without mechanical moving parts adjusting would be a huge benefit.

    • johnhcook

      Good point, and the team at Kymeta, including co-founder Dr. Nathan Kundtz, has some experience in that realm.

      Dr. Kundtz has an M.S. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University. He is an alumnus of the intelligence community postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Kundtz has authored or co-authored over 10 peer reviewed publications in the field of metamaterials, including work on the use of advanced structured materials in beam forming applications. His research has centered on the application of advanced concepts such as transformation optics to real needs and benchmarking the performance of such devices. This work has provided Dr. Kundtz with broad knowledge of the field of metamaterials and advantages and disadvantages of their use in real-world applications. He was born in Roanoke, Virginia.

  • Kevin Mansel

    Fast internet in the car here we come!

  • ciffwiff

    OK wow, that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    Privacy-Planet.com

  • sketchbag

    looks quite baller. thinking outside the dish or parabolic antenna. very sassy.

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