Wednesday, September 27, 2023

With backing from Bill Gates, Pivotal Commware raises $50M for 5G products


Bill Gates has put money into multiple metamaterial companies that have spun out of Intellectual Ventures, including Pivotal CommwareKymetaEchodyne and Lumotive.

Intellectual Ventures researches and launches technology startups in groundbreaking areas, namely metamaterials, nuclear power, and blockchain.

Pivotal Commware’s Pivot 5G outdoor network repeaters can give a millimeter-wave boost to 5G wireless communications. (Pivotal Commware Photo)

Kirkland, Wash.-based Pivotal Commware says it has closed on a $50 million funding round that will help it expand research, development, and distribution for its millimeter-wave 5G network infrastructure products.

Tracker Capital Management, a venture capital investment firm that’s headquartered in New York, led the Series C investment round. Other participants in the financing include Devonshire Investors and Pivotal’s existing investors — including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Gates has been investing in Pivotal since 2017, not long after it was spun out from Intellectual Ventures. It’s one of several Gates-backed ventures that make use of metamaterials, an exotic breed of electronics that can channel signals without moving parts.

Pivotal calls its metamaterials-based technology “holographic beam forming.” The technology is used primarily to support ultra-wideband 5G communications.

Wireless network providers can use Pivotal’s Pivot 5G outdoor repeaters to beef up service in hard-to-reach corners of their service areas and can provide subscribers with puck-shaped Echo 5G indoor repeaters for an in-home boost.

Pivotal’s product ecosystem also includes WaveScape, a network modeling tool; and a platform for remote network management and optimization known as the Intelligent Beam Management System, or IBMS.

Verizon is Pivotal’s best-known customer — and an investor as well.

“As the telecom industry evolves globally, we believe that Pivotal is at the forefront of the next wave of telecom infrastructure providers,” Pivotal CEO Brian Deutsch said today in a news release. “For 5G, ultra-wideband mmWave is the real game changer, and Pivotal has built the complete solution for rapid, cost-effective deployment of these high-value networks.”

Previous funding rounds for Pivotal include the $17 million Series A equity round in 2017, plus a $22 million Series B round in 2018 and a $10 million convertible-debt financing round in 2019. Pivotal says that the bridge note was converted for the Series C round, and that total funding to date amounts to about $90 million. Pivotal currently has 100 employees.

The newly raised capital will be used for the expansion of product support, distribution, and R&D associated with its millimeter-wave ecosystem, and for extending the company’s products and services into mid-band frequencies including C-bandCBRS and Band n53.

“This capital will allow Pivotal to become a significant 5G telecom infrastructure provider on a global stage,” said Chris Brandon, Pivotal’s chief operating officer.

In conjunction with the investment round, Shaygan Kheradpir will join Pivotal’s board of directors. Kheradpir is a senior adviser to Tracker Capital who formerly served as a chief information officer for Verizon, chief operating officer for Barclays Bank Group, and held CEO roles at Coriant and Juniper Networks.



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