Menlo Micro Raises $44 Million to Accelerate High-Volume Production of its Ideal Switch

Menlo Microsystems (Menlo Micro), the company responsible for re-inventing the electronic switch with its Ideal SwitchTM technology, has announced the successful closure of it new $44 Million Series B funding round. The round was led by 40 North Ventures alongside San Francisco-based Piva, leading global investor Paladin Capital Group, Vertical Venture Partners, and Tony Fadell’s Future Shape. This round brings Menlo Micro to $78 million in total funding to date.

Menlo Micro is also backed by Corning and Microsemi. Following more than 12 years of research at General Electric, Menlo Micro was co-founded by CTO Chris Keimel and SVP of Worldwide Marketing Chris Giovanniello. Semi-conductor industry veterans, CEO Russ Garcia and SVP Operations Jeff Baloun, helped to productize the technology and scale the company. Today, Menlo Micro has created an entirely new switch category that is bringing massive reductions in size, weight, power and cost to multiple industries.

“This is a major milestone for Menlo Micro and the deployment of the Ideal SwitchTM, which we firmly believe to be the most important technological innovation in the electronics industry since the transistor,” said Russ Garcia. “This round of financing will enable us to significantly accelerate our product development and the scaling of our production lines. It is an incredible validation that our investors are standing behind our truly disruptive technology and our team at a time of so much uncertainty around the world.”

The Ideal SwitchTM eliminates the compromises and tradeoffs of today’s electromechanical relays and solid-state switches, solving the major challenge that industry leaders have attempted to address for 40 years. It has been 70+ years since the invention of the silicon transistor and 185+ years since the invention of the electromechanical relay. These legacy technologies have major shortcomings that can limit the performance of many end products and systems. By combining the key benefits of both electromechanical and solid-state technologies, the Ideal Switch is providing users a 99% or more reduction in key system-level metrics including performance, size, weight, power consumption, and cost.

These reductions will bring vital improvements for:
  • Radio performance in critical defense, government, radar, and commercial communications networks
  • RF/Microwave switching with applications including 5G cell networks, radio, satellite, and Wi-Fi
  • The transition to 5G, reducing losses, improving efficiency, and supporting the deployment of new frequency bands and vital measurement equipment; and
  • Consumer cell phone usage, including fewer dropped calls, higher data rates (high speed/higher capacity), improved coverage, and longer battery life.

Throughout the past year, Menlo Micro has sampled products from its new production line to over 30 lead customers in its core target market groups including 5G mobile networks, aerospace and defense, and test and measurement. The funding will also enable the company to accelerate its expansion into new markets over the next few years, leveraging the Ideal SwitchTM ability to handle kilowatts of power. This will create additional opportunities in industrial IoT, home automation, electric vehicles, medical instrumentation, quantum computing and more.

“The concept of an ‘Ideal Switch’ was theoretical – something companies have been working to achieve for decades – until Menlo Micro,” said Marianne Wu, Managing Director of 40 North Ventures. “We are incredibly excited to work with such a dynamic, experienced team on a core technology that is disrupting nearly every industry.”

Over the last 30 months, Menlo Micro has completed the transfer and qualification of its Ideal SwitchTM manufacturing process, moving from a 4-inch research fab to a new 8-inch high volume manufacturing line. This milestone allows Menlo to ramp production for its initial products, while significantly increasing capacity. The qualification of Menlo Micro’s manufacturing line means the company will be able to cost-effectively scale up production to over 100,000 units per month by the end of 2020 and millions per month in 2021.

“For 40+ years, the industry has been searching for a switch that has the perfect combination of the electromechanical relay and the silicon transistor. Menlo Micro’s Ideal SwitchTM is a tiny, efficient, reliable micro-mechanical switch with unmatched RF-performance and, counterintuitively, high-power handling of 1,000s of Watts. As our world moves to the electrification and wireless of everything, Menlo Micro’s deep innovation is already triggering massive cross-industry upheaval," said Tony Fadell, Founder of Nest and Principal at Future Shape.

Click here to read everything RF's interview with Menlo Microwave in 2019.