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Switching The World On and Off: Menlo Microsystems Closes $44M Series B

Menlo Microsystems brought in $44 million in Series B funding to make electronic switches smarter.

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“There are a lot of places with electronic switches and millions of buildings,” said Menlo Microsystems CEO Russ Garcia. “If you could turn things on and off a hundred or thousand times faster or have automatic sensing, energy becomes a savings. It will have a huge impact.”

The company’s reinvention of the switch is in the form of the Ideal Switch, which eliminates the shortcomings of the electromagnetic relays and solid-state switches being used today. It also provides users a 99 percent or more reduction in key system-level metrics including performance, size, weight, power consumption and cost.

“The electronic switch hasn’t changed much–in fact, the circuit breaker was invented 140 years ago–and needs to be faster and manage energy better,” Garcia said. “This research was born out of the General Electric research lab and perfected over 12 years. In 2016, we moved it into a high-volume manufacturing capability and are scaling it now.”

The new round of funding was led by 40 North Ventures, alongside Piva, Paladin Capital Group, Vertical Venture Partners and Future Shape. This round brings Menlo Micro to $77 million in total funding to date, which includes a $33 million Series A, Garcia said.

Bennett Cohen, a partner at Piva, said his partner used to work for GE Ventures, and introduced Cohen to the company while it was raising the Series B.

“Piva is all about investing in companies transforming the energy, transportation, food and agriculture [sectors],” he said. “Menlo Micro is one of those rare hardware companies that is 99 percent better than what it is replacing. This was a rare occasion to invest in something that was such a big opportunity.”

With the Irvine, California-based company’s plan to scale into mass production, the timing of the new funding “is perfect,” he added. It will also be used for sales and marketing and to expand into new markets, industrial IoT, home automation, electric vehicles, medical instrumentation and quantum computing.

Menlo Micro is still in the early revenue stage, but also has 30 committed designs and has been sampling the product for more than a year. Now it is finishing qualifications and placing orders, Garcia said.

The company also plans to boost production in 2021. Currently, it is producing thousands of units per quarter, and Garcia expects that to increase to 100,000 units per month by the end of the year and then significantly into the millions per month by next year.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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