Pivotal Commware raises $17 million for beam-forming antennas – GeekWire

An artist’s conception illustrates different applications for Pivotal Commware’s software-defined antenna system. (Pivotal Commware Illustration)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Chalk up another score for metamaterials technology: Bellevue-based Pivotal Commware says it’s raised $17 million in Series A funding from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Globalstar’s parent company and other heavy-hitters.

The investment will give a boost to Pivotal’s “holographic beam forming” technology, which takes advantage of the beam-bending properties of metamaterials. The company’s software-defined antenna system facilitates easier communication with moving targets ranging from ships and planes to trains and connected cars.

One unusual angle to Pivotal’s play is that the company is already making a profit, said CEO Brian Deutsch. “The fact that we’ve had early commercial success is unique. … We’re not only post-revenue, we’re post-profit,” he told GeekWire.

Pivotal is keeping the identity of its prime customer under wraps for now, saying only that it’s an air-to-ground, in-flight communications service provider.

Deutsch said there’s more business in the works. “We have way more work than we can handle,” he said.

That’s one of the issues the new funding round aims to address. Right now, Pivotal Commware employs about 20 people, primarily at the company’s headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.

“We’ll double that by year’s end … if we can,” Deutsch said. “We’re really picky.”

Pivotal is one of four metamaterials-based ventures that have been spun out from Intellectual Ventures, a technology incubator that’s also based in Bellevue. The others are Kymeta, which focuses on flat-panel satellite antennas; Echodyne, which builds radar systems suited for drones and connected cars; and Evolv, which is working on security scanning applications.

Pivotal Commware CEO Brian Deutsch

Gates is an investor in all four ventures. “Bill…

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