Authentec Lets Fingers Do the Talking

Bio-authentication has become big business in this world of Homeland Security, and AuthenTec Inc. is one of the first to commercialize the technology for use in everyday applications ranging from personal computers to cell phones.

The Melbourne, Fla.-based startup pulled in a $15 million Series D last week, bringing its total venture backing to more than $63 million.

The round was led by Carlyle Venture Partners and included previous investors Advantage Capital, Firsthand Technology, Knickerbocker LLC, Sierra Ventures, Harris Corp., Newlight Associates, Stonehenge/Bank One and Texas Instruments.

Investors were impressed by AuthenTec’s well-developed sales channels and partners, such as Analog Devices, Bioscrypt, Computer Associates, Delphi, Fellowes, Harris, INM, Microsoft, Samsung, TI and others. The company claims to have delivered more than 2 million of its silicon-based sensor devices and software to builders of computers, wireless devices, PDAs, access control systems and automobiles.

The company says its technology allows “live” sub-epidermal fingerprints to be read, which allows users of its technology to avoid problems with “dry, worn, callused, or dirty” skin and to read fingerprints under virtually any conditions.

It’s just the kind of market that one has come to expect of late-stage investor Carlyle. The market is populated with publicly traded companies such as Verdicom International, a spinout of Lucent in 1997 and Identix Inc., both of which already provide fingerprint recognition products or services and represent potential acquirers of AuthenTec.