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Pivotal Commware raises $10M as it gets set for 5G

Echo 5G in home office
In this scenario for a wireless application, Pivotal Commware’s Echo 5G device consists of a paddle-like antenna placed on the exterior of a window, and a power puck installed on the inside. (Pivotal Commware Photo)

Pivotal Commware, one of several metamaterials startups backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, says it has secured $10 million in convertible-debt financing to help it roll out signal repeater systems for 5G wireless data services.

The company, based in Kirkland, Wash., takes advantage of the electronic properties of metamaterials to produce flat-panel antennas with no moving parts.

One product line, the Echo 5G, can be used by wireless customers to boost the millimeter-wave broadband signals transmitted by 5G operators. Another product line, the Pivot 5G, can be used by operators to extend the range of 5G signals and wrap them around corners, to places that might otherwise be dead spots.

Chris Brandon, Pivotal Commware’s chief operating officer, told GeekWire that the company is due to start shipping the Echo 5G to wireless network operators sometime in December. He said it was premature to disclose which operators will be using them, but they should start showing up next year.

“2020 is a big year for us,” Brandon said.

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Pivotal Commware raises millions more for antennas

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

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Pivotal Commware, a venture that’s backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, is in the midst of a fresh funding round that could bring in $20 million or more for its effort to develop flat-panel antennas that boost wireless communications.

In documents filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bellevue-based startup said that four investors have put $14.75 million into a Series B equity funding round so far.

The filing says the offering amounts to $20 million, with $5.25 million yet to be sold. However, Pivotal Commware’s vice president of marketing and sales, Kent Lundgren, told GeekWire via email that the final amount of the round is yet to be determined.

Lundgren said participants in the round could include “some new strategic investors,” but declined to go into further detail.

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Pivotal Commware demonstrates 5G wireless link

Echo 5G unit
Pivotal Commware’s glass-attached Echo 5G unit picks up a millimeter-wave signal and boosts the signal for wireless customers. (Pivotal Commware Photo)

Pivotal Commware, the Kirkland, Wash.-based startup backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, says it’s demonstrated its solution to a wireless annoyance: getting 5G reception inside a building.

Millimeter-wave 5G signaling is the next wave in cellular technology, revving up data transfer speeds by an order of magnitude over 4G. The new wireless standard also promises to bring less lag time and wider bandwidth.

But deploying 5G also brings technical challenges: Because of the physics of high-frequency radio waves, the signal typically needs a boost on the subscriber side to provide connectivity inside the home.

Pivotal Commware’s strategy is to use a metamaterials-based technology called holographic beam forming to intercept and amplify the signal. Its Echo 5G repeater is designed to be attached to a window, without the need for external wiring or drilling through walls.

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Pivotal Commware raises $17M for antennas

Pivotal Commware beam-forming
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.

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