Nokia Backs Secretive Kilopass

Kilopass, a non-volatile memory chip developer in Sunnyvale, Calif., last week closed its first round of venture capital after three years of product development.

Nokia Venture Partners, InveStar Capital and iGlobe Partners invested in the round. Neither the company nor its backers would disclose how much was invested.

John Malloy and Jui Tan of Nokia gained board seats, as did Michael Lin, a partner with InveStar, and Soo-Boon Koh, founder of iGlobe.

It is the 3-year old company’s first round of institutional venture capital – angels funded the company’s operations until it secured customers and began reporting revenue in mid-2003.

This institutional infusion will be used to further the company’s research and development efforts to make its chips more robust, and to develop a sales and marketing team, says Charles Ng, vice president for worldwide sales and marketing at Kilopass.

Kilopass is a fabless semiconductor company developing non-volatile memory technology, the kind that a memory card uses to store photos when a digital camera is not turned on, for example. That type of memory is used in all sorts of consumer electronics devices -such as DVD players – as well as in communications and networking devices for encryption services. For example, it allows a handheld device to communicate with an enterprise network. As a result, Kilopass is targeting SOC (systems-on-a-chip) and ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) developers. It wants to sell them its memory technology as a component for building semiconductors.

So far, the company has lined up customers in both the United States and Asia, Ng says. It wouldn’t be surprising if its new relationship with Nokia Ventures translates into a joint development or research agreement, but Ng would not comment on any possibilities.

For now, the company is concentrating on gaining more traction among its clients to break even.