December 6, 2022
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Calient raises $27M, hires new CFO


Santa Barbara-based photonics firm Calient Technologies has raised $27 million in venture capital and hired a new chief financial officer to lead growth.

The firm said July 24 that it raised the round from a combination of new and existing investors and that the funding will be used to enhance its portfolio of 3D micro electromechanical devices, or MEMs. The new funds will also be used to extend its intellectual property portfolio and to provide working capital, Calient said.

The latest funding round brings Calient’s total raised over the past two years to $46.4 million.

The company was founded out of UC Santa Barbara in 2000, when the first dot-com explosion resulted in a bandwidth crunch. MEMs are its core technology. On a single silicon chip, the company can make hundreds of tiny mirrors. Those mirrors swing on two hinges, giving them the freedom to rotate in almost any direction, beaming light-based data signals with extremely high bandwidth.

Exploding user demand for online video from firms such as Netflix, YouTube and Hulu is driving a huge demand for bandwidth, both in Internet networks that get data to users and within the massive data centers that store, process and serve up that data. Calient said it is helping meet that demand with products that help data centers communicate internally and are obvious to whatever coding language the data center’s servers happen to be talking to each other.

“Data centers are cumulatively becoming almost 20 percent of the total power consumption for our country,” Calient Chairman and CEO Atiq Raza told the Business Times. “You’re talking about a gigantic scale. A third of that power is dedicated to supplying power and cooling.”

As demand for its products heats up, Calient has also hired a new CFO. Jag Setlur is a 20-year technology industry veteran, Calient said, who joins the Santa Barbara firm from July Systems, where he was the chief operating officer and CFO. Before that, he was the CFO for Cotendo, where he closed two rounds of funding of nearly $30 million and managed the sale of the company to Akamai. Setlur has also held leadership roles at NetXen, which was acquired by Qlogic; VeriSign; CoWare, which was acquired by Synopsys; enStage, iPrint Technologies, which was acquired by American TonerServ Corp.; TCSI; and UB Networks.

Raza told the Business Times he expects Setlur to be deeply involved in operations as the company expands its customer base and works to meet demand. The firm has a headcount of about 100 people.

“We are ramping up our manufacturing activity,” Setlur said. “We’ve added an additional shift, as well as keeping up our R&D function.”