Stealthy Soladigm raises $10.6M

Now you see through it, now you don’t.

That’s the type of abracadabra that startup Soladigm is working to bring to office buildings with its switchable glass technology.

Glass that can limit the amount of light that passes through it is attractive to green building makers, who look at the technology as a way to reduce the need for air conditioning. But costs have been prohibitive. A decade ago, a square-meter of panel made from switchable glass would have cost between $100 and $1,000, according to reports. That price has dropped considerably since then and is poised to go lower.

How exactly Soladigm plans to lower the cost of switchable glass is unclear. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company recently raised $10.6 million from venture capitalists to build glass with variable transparency. The investment includes $4 million in debt and the sale of $6.6 million of warrants that the investors can exercise in the future.

Soladigm’s investors include two optical networking experts turned cleantech venture capitalists. Vinod Khosla made his name investing in such companies as Juniper Netorks and Cerent, while Sigma Partners Fahri Diner founded and lead long-haul photonics company Qtera, which sold to Nortel Networks for $3.25 billion.

Now Khosla leads Khosla Ventures, a cleantech-focused fund that is reportedly looking to raise $1 billion from institutional limited partners. Diner is now working on such companies as Kateeva, which is developing an organic light-emitting, and Envis, which provides power management services.

The investors’ background in optical networking seems to dovetail with the experience of Soladigm’s management. CEO Mick Scobey formerly was the CTO of optical component maker Cierra Photonics. Soladigm CTO Paul Nguyen comes from a semiconductor background and helped found memory device company Grandis, which has raised funding from Sevin Rosen Funds and others.

San Jose, Calif.-based Soladigm raised $8.55 million in equity and debt last year, according to regulatory filings. —Alexander Haislip