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Venture capital raises at Goleta firms Transphorm and Tyrian top $23M

By   /   Friday, February 21st, 2014  /   Comments Off

Transphorm, a maker of energy-efficient electronic components, has raised $15 million in additional capital related to its recent partnership with Fujitsu Ltd. of Japan. Tyrian Systems, a firm founded by a pair of longtime infrared sensor entrepreneurs to commercialize thermal vision technology, has raised an $8.3 million Series B investment.

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Two Goleta tech firms have raised a total of $23.3 million in venture capital, according to securities filings.

Transphorm, a maker of energy-efficient electronic components, has raised $15 million in additional capital related to its recent partnership with Fujitsu Ltd. of Japan. The firm has raised more than $110 million to date.

Meanwhile, Tyrian Systems, a firm founded by a pair of longtime infrared sensor entrepreneurs to commercialize thermal vision technology, has raised an $8.3 million Series B investment. This brings its total funds raised to date to $28.3 million.

Here’s a closer look at each deal.

Transphorm

Founded by UCSB professor Umesh Mishra and longtime business partner Primit Parikh, Transphorm has raised about $110 million from funds connected to Google, George Soros and major Japanese firms, among others. The company has more than 100 employees in Goleta.

Transphorm uses a substance called gallium-nitride, or GaN, to reduce the amount of energy wasted by semiconductors. By coating semiconductor wafers with just enough pricey GaN to get the job done, Transphorm says its products can reduce the wasted heat and energy in electronic systems by between 40 and 90 percent, and result in systems that are lighter and smaller than conventional silicon and cost less than pure GaN. Though GaN energy-efficiency technology has been around for years, the Transphorm team was the first to make it viable at the high voltages used in many everyday electronics.

Last December, Transphorm, Fujitsu and Fujitsu Semiconductor said they had reached an agreement to merge their GaN lines of business into one entity.

The deal resulted in Fujitsu and its semiconductor subsidiary both taking minority stakes in Transphorm in exchange for creating a new company in Japan that will be capable of high-volume production based on Transphorm’s technology.

Transphorm president Parikh said the $15 million in capital was related to the Fujitsu transaction.

In the meantime, one of Transphorm’s offerings was named Product of the Year by Electronic Products Magazine, an influential trade journal. The TPH3006PS is a 600-volt high-electron mobility transistor. Importantly,

it’s the only such device at the high voltages used by computer servers and other devices to be certified by the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council, a standards body whose approval is needed before engineers can put a part into a mass-produced product. “Transphorm has continued to maintain leadership in high voltage GaN power conversion with the only JEDEC-qualified high-voltage device,” Parikh told the Business Times in an email.

Tyrian Systems

Longtime infrared entrepreneurs Bill Parrish and Tim Fitzgibbons founded Tyrian Systems and raised $20 million in late 2012 with plans to commercialize the technology advances made at Raytheon Vision Systems, coupled with the chip manufacturing prowess of FreeScale Semiconductor, one of the largest chipmaking firms in the United States that was spun out of Motorola.

The pair has been involved in some of the most prominent infrared sensor companies in Goleta, including Indigo Systems, which was sold to Oregon-based Flir Systems in 2004 for $185 million.

The company has not yet announced any products. However, Parrish and Fitzgibbons have a history of making infrared systems smaller, lighter and cheaper, and Raytheon has broken resolution barriers in recent years. A Tyrian spokesman said the company “has raised additional capital for the continued expansion of thermal vision technology and innovative products” and that it hopes “this investment will result in expanded business and job creation on the Central Coast.”

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