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Pivotal Commware announced its initial round of funding of $17M with lead investments from The Thermo Companies and DIG Investment, along with those from Bill Gates, Lux Capital, the family office of Barry Sternlicht, and others. The fourth spin-out from Intellectual Ventures (IV) based on metamaterials, Pivotal will bring to market communications products that use Holographic Beam Forming (HBF).

Jay Monroe, CEO of The Thermo Companies and majority shareholder of satellite company Globalstar, added, “I’m very excited to be investing in Brian Deutsch and his talented team. Thermo’s capital is currently focused on telecom infrastructure via spectrum and satellite with Globalstar and fiber through FiberLight, LLC and holdings in Level 3 Communications, Inc. We see what Brian and the Pivotal team are doing as a significant component to future networks and look forward to the potential of this standalone investment as well as the integrated benefits with our other telecom investments.”

Pivotal spun out of IV in 2016 as the exclusive licensee of its metamaterials technology for terrestrial communications markets such as cellular, Access-in-Motion (e,g., planes, cars, ships, trains and drones) and defense. “The promise of metamaterials is to completely change nearly every aspect of electronic communications, and Pivotal has taken another step toward making that promise a reality. HBF is the ultimate software-defined antenna able to improve communications products across a wide range of applications,” said Nathan Myhrvold, CEO of Intellectual Ventures. Pivotal’s HBF technology combines microsecond switching performance with low Cost, Size, Weight and Power (C-SWaP), and rapid fabrication cycles using simple, inexpensive components. Pivotal has been generating revenues for over a year as prime contractor to an air-to-ground, in-flight communications service provider.

“We think that travel – whether by plane, train or ship — shouldn’t be a broadband dead zone,” says Deutsch. He adds, “In this market, broadband connectivity worthy of the name means continuous tracking by high gain beams with electronic-speed beam switching. And the best solution for that is Pivotal.”

The larger opportunity, however, is radio access networks; that is, mobile operators. Pivotal has generated significant 4G and 5G interest from and field-tested with Tier 1 operators. Additionally, Globalstar, a mobile satellite service provider with terrestrial spectrum holdings, is working closely with Pivotal to be best positioned to leverage the Pivotal technology into future service offerings over its spectrum.

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