Bill Gates backs Kymeta in $85m funding round

31 Aug 2020396 Views

Bill Gates. Image: ChinaImages/Depositphotos

Bill Gates has reportedly invested $78.5m in Kymeta in the company’s latest funding round, supporting the company has it prepares to provide infrastructure for satellite and cellular connectivity.

Kymeta, a Washington-based developer of hybrid satellite-cellular networks for mobile connectivity, has raised $85m in its latest funding round. The funding round was led by Bill Gates, with members of Kymeta’s leadership team investing approximately $1m.

Kymeta said that over the last 18 months, the firm has seen a “rapidly growing influx of new customers” and the appointment of new executive-level staff, as well as new product releases and growing market momentum in the areas of defence, public safety and land mobility.

The company’s channel network now includes more than 100 reseller partners and several defence and commercial customers around the globe.

The funding

Kymeta has developed a smart, powered, flat-panel antenna that can be used to improve satellite and cellular connection signal strength. The u8 terminal panel technology requires no moving parts to operate, making it advantageous for aircraft and modes of transport where attaching a traditional satellite dish is difficult.

The company describes its technology as low-profile, lightweight, easy to install and “virtually maintenance-free, regardless of location”.

Kymeta, which was founded in 2012 by Nathan Kundtz, said that with the latest batch of funding, its key areas of focus are meeting the needs of current and future customers, while driving new product innovation and market development.

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Speaking to VentureBeat, Kymeta’s chief strategic officer Bill Marks said that the company hopes to be well positioned to provide the infrastructure for connectivity to companies developing low earth orbit satellite programmes, including Amazon, SpaceX and OneWeb.

Marks said: “When these microsatellite constellations go into space, our antenna will be essential to establishing connectivity from a moving satellite onto a moving vehicle.”

Doug Hutcheson, executive chair of Kymeta, said: “As a company, we’re just scratching the surface of how powerful hybrid satellite-cellular communications can be when combined with an affordable electronically steered flat-panel antenna offered to the global land mobility ecosystem.

“Having the continued support of Bill Gates will help us to execute our vision even more rapidly and broadly – and with the benefit of experience, perspective and relationships of a leading and highly successful technology backer.”

Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, first invested in Kymeta back in its $12m funding round in 2012 and its subsequent $62m Series D round in 2016. According to the start-up, Gates invested $78.5m in the latest round of funding. Kymeta did not disclose the other investors in the latest round.

Marks told VentureBeat: “As a privately held company, we don’t really disclose information about an investment or our investors. That being said, Bill Gates has clearly been and remains our biggest supporter.”

Bill Gates. Image: ChinaImages/Depositphotos

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com