Transphorm emerges from stealth with $20M

Faith Merino · February 24, 2011 · Short URL:

The energy conversion company gets $20M from Google Ventures for a total of $38M raised


The energy industry got a bit of a surprise Wednesday afternoon when energy conversion company Transphorm emerged from stealth mode already in its third round of funding. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $20 million in a Series C round led by Google Ventures, with help from existing venture investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, and Lux Capital. This brings the company's total raised to $38 million since its creation in 2007.

The startup takes a unique approach to energy efficiency--in fact, it's pretty on-the-nose. When electric power is converted, some 10% of it is typically lost in the process, which adds up to 318 coal-fired power plants every year. If this sounds costly, that's because it is--it costs the U.S. economy $40 billion a year. Transphorm claims that using its power modules, it can eliminate 90% of that waste. 

So what is Transphorm's secret? Electrical power conversion works through rapidly switching circuits, and Transphorm breaks from tradition by using a new material, Gallium Nitride (GaN), which switches at a significantly higher frequency than traditional materials. The use of GaN, combined with the company's circuit design, enables Transphorm to save the hundreds of terawatts of energy typically lost in the traditional conversion process. And Transphorm's solution has the potential to produce cost savings and energy conservation across the grid, on everything from HVACs, hybrids, solar panels, and computer servers. 

“We founded Transphorm to re-imagine what enhanced efficiency in the generation and use of electrical energy can do for our economy,” said Umesh Mishra, CEO of Transphorm, in a prepared statement. “Why put up with needless energy waste in every electrical system and device, when we can quickly and cost-effectively design products that are inherently energy efficient? Transphorm’s next-generation power modules cut waste, increase efficiency, reduce system size and simplify overall product design.”

“Solving the enormous problem of power waste will create immediate, long-term shared value for Transphorm’s customers and investors,” said Randy Komisar, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in the announcement. “It was imperative for our firm to get behind Transphorm because it is the first company with a viable, commercial-scale solution to energy losses associated with high-voltage power conversion.”

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