Color Kinetics Draws on $13M

In preparation for an IPO, Color Kinetics announced a $17 million Series D round last week.

Needham Capital Partners led the round, while Think Equity Investment Partners, SAC Capital Advisors, Deutsche Bank, Armen Capital Management, and others also participated.

To date, the company has raised over $47 million since it was founded in 1997. Neither company management nor investors would comment because the 7-year old company is preparing to register for an IPO.

Color Kinetics builds LED-based colored lighting systems for architectural, entertainment, and home uses.

The company, which holds more than 20 patents on its systems, buys LEDs from producers such as Agilent and integrates them into systems, such as a proprietary semiconductor controller, circuitry and software. Originally targeting theatrical and entertainment markets, the company broadened applications of its products to architectural and building design, and has claimed that it has the ability to expand beyond its current niche.

The white-light illumination market is dominated by General Electric (NYSE: GE), Osram/Sylvania, Phillips (NYSE: PHG) and other publicly traded companies.

Bob Steele, director of OptoElectronics at Strategies Unlimited in Mountain View, Calif., and who provides market research for LEDs, says that “it’s a stretch for Color Kinetics to go into the white light, bright light and low cost market.” But he says that the company has clearly staked out a position on a piece of the lighting business.

Color Kinetics’ Web site shows its LED lighting systems installed for interior uses in homes, retail outlets, restaurants, theaters, museums and for external building ornamentation.

Last week, its lighting system was on view during the ABC TV program Super Millionaire. Color Kinetics designed the lighting for the set with its LED-based systems, including the color-changing staircase that was lit from within.

“Color Kinetics leads the market for solid state light in architectural and entertainment lighting,” says Kathryn M. Conway, principal at LED Consulting in Nassau, N.Y. But she adds that there are probably 500 companies worldwide involved in the supply and distribution of LED lighting.