Bill Gates is boosting his bet on next-generation satellite broadband technology, leading a new $85 million funding round for Kymeta as the Redmond, Wash., company prepares to launch a new hybrid satellite-cellular antenna and mobile internet service for government and industry use.
The Microsoft co-founder has been Kymeta’s lead investor since its launch in 2012 as an outgrowth of brainstorming sessions with former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold and a crew of inventors.
The investment will be used to help fund the manufacturing, launch and further product and market development of Kymeta’s u8 flat-panel beam-steering antenna and the associated Kymeta Connect satellite and cellular internet service, said Walter Berger, Kymeta’s president and COO, in an interview with GeekWire.
Berger said the additional investment by Gates reflects a “continued high degree of interest and support” from the Microsoft co-founder’s private investment arm.
“They have a vision for where this product should be, and what it can be, and they want to continue to see that to this next stage,” he said.
In a news release, Kymeta said the company was recapitalized along with the new funding. Berger said some members of Kymeta’s leadership team also invested in the new round. The privately held company declined to provide additional details on the recapitalization or its resulting valuation.
Venture capital database Pitchbook showed the company raising a total of $197.5 million, prior to the new funding round, but Kymeta isn’t confirming that number or commenting on its total funding to date.
The company raised $73.5 million in 2017, its last reported investment round.
The company is planning to market the u8 antenna and broadband service to government organizations such as the Department of Defense, as well as first-responders, before expanding to other verticals, Berger said.