SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Contrary to popular belief, venture capital is still around.
But is it around for semiconductor companies? Barely. A larger percentage of the funds are going into clean technology. In fact, the latest round is heading to solar startup BrightView Ltd.
But two semiconductor companies--nLight Corp. and Stretch Inc.--have bucked the trend and obtained funding.
Still, it's a bleak picture. For example, semiconductor companies raised $231.6 million in venture capital during the third quarter, a decrease of 44 percent from the second quarter and a year-over-year decrease of 57 percent from the third quarter of 2007, according to a new report from the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) trade group.
But as climate change moves up the corporate agenda, clean-tech investment is reaching record levels, according to Ernst & Young.
The trends are not stopping some. Stretch (Sunnyvale, Calif.), a supplier of software configurable processors, has raised an additional $15 million in Series B funding. The round was co-led by Worldview Technology Partners, Oak Investment Partners, and Menlo Ventures.
Stretch intends to use this additional funding for operational expenditures to support increased volume manufacturing.
''In an uncertain economy, the ability of Stretch technology to reduce system costs while providing breakthrough performance is driving strong adoption of our products across a rapidly expanding customer base," said Craig Lytle, president and CEO of Stretch, in a statement.
Meanwhile, startup nLight, a supplier of high-power semiconductor lasers, has received $10.7 million in the first closing of a new equity financing. Continued investment came from existing venture investors Oak Investment Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Menlo Ventures.
NLight (Vancouver, Wash.) will use the new capital to drive continued product development of integrated laser modules. It is a supplier of high-power semiconductor lasers and fibers for industrial, medical, defense and consumer applications.
And not to be outdone, BrightView (Petach-Tikva,
Israel) has recently finalized a $6 million A round of financing and that Eyal Harel, formerly Orbotech Ltd.'s co-president, has joined the board.
Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV) financed the company in mid-2008 and was joined thereafter by Hasso Plattner Ventures (HPV) to co-lead the round. Glen Schwaber, partner at ICV, has joined the company's board.
"BrightView is focused on perfecting the production process of photovoltaic-based solar-cells," said Benny Shoham, BrightView's co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "Our tools are designed to deliver a solution suite that uniquely addresses some key production gaps while optimized to meet the particular needs of the most advanced solar-cells manufacturers. The current investment will enable us to introduce our first solution to the market during 2009."