Sand 9, a MEMS technology company developing precision timing products for wireless and wired applications, announced this week that it has raised a total of $23 million in its Series C financing round led by Intel Capital with significant participation from Vulcan Capital. Intel Capital and Vulcan Capital join existing investors Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Khosla Ventures and CSR. Sand 9 will use funds to ramp volume production as they go to market and to rapidly expand their product portfolio.
MEMS timing devices are "miniature machines" that ensure synchronicity and stable operation in complex electronic devices, from smartphones and tablets to industrial test and measurement systems and communications infrastructure equipment.
Sand 9 claims that its MEMS timing device platform is the industry's first to achieve the stringent phase noise and short-term stability requirements for wireless and wired applications. The spurious-free resonator design -- which can enhance network efficiency due to reduced packet loss -- can result in fewer dropped calls. According to the company, combined with high immunity to noise, shock and lead-free reflow temperatures, Sand 9's high-precision platform addresses Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator (TCXO) weaknesses that system designers have been forced to work around for decades.
"The MEMS oscillator market is still at a nascent stage, representing less than one percent of the total timing market of $6.3 billion," said Tony Massimini, Chief of Technology, Semico Research. "By offering drop-in replacement -- and technical benefits over established silicon quartz crystal timing devices -- MEMS companies have already begun to capture market share from the legacy suppliers: quartz crystal manufacturers. Sand 9 is broadening the competition for this exciting segment of the MEMS market."
"Sand 9's precision MEMS technology has the potential to address the limitations of quartz timing products and substantially improve the performance, quality and cost of mobile devices while making them easier to design and manufacture," said David Flanagan, Managing Director, Intel Capital. "We look forward to working with Sand 9's outstanding team, and welcome them as a new Intel Capital portfolio company."
"Intel Capital's depth of knowledge and attention to detail have been extremely beneficial to Sand 9 as we migrate from research and development toward shipping product into the market," said Vince Graziani, CEO, Sand 9. "This significant infusion of capital will enable us to commercialize our first product, ramp volume production and rapidly execute on expanding our product portfolio to service broader market needs."
As part of the funding, Intel Capital appointed Dr. Siva Sivaram, an industry veteran with significant semiconductor process and operational experience as well as founder and CEO of Twin Creeks Technologies, Inc., to join the Sand 9 Board of Directors.
Intel Capital, Intel's global investment and M&A organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software, and services targeting enterprise, mobility, health, consumer Internet, digital media, semiconductor manufacturing and cleantech. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US $10.6 billion in over 1,234 companies in 51 countries. In that timeframe, 199 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and 297 were acquired or participated in a merger. In 2011, Intel Capital invested US$526 million in 158 investments with approximately 51 percent of funds invested outside the U.S. and Canada.
Founded in 2007, Sand 9 is a privately held technology company based in Cambridge, MA. Offering a precision MEMS technology platform that reportedly enhances quality and performance, simplifies system design, and promotes space and power savings in integrated electronic systems, Sand 9's broad patent portfolio has the potential to transform wireless and wired systems in a wide range of market segments: mobile, industrial and communications.