ZettaCore Lands $17.5M

The promise of what ZettaCore Inc. offers – high-density memory devices – is so convincing that last week the Denver company secured a $17.5 million investment and added another heavyweight to its bulging board of directors.

Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the Series B round and will take a seat on the company’s board alongside Les Vadasz, who joined the board last month.

This the first board appointment for Vadasz since retiring as the head of Intel Capital last summer. Vadasz, who was a part of Intel Corp.’s founding team in 1968, subsequently managed the design teams for the world’s first DRAM and the world’s first commercial microprocessor.

The rest of the members of ZettaCore’s board are Steve Jurvetson, a managing director with Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ); Jordan Davis, a managing partner with Radius Ventures; and Herb Goronkin, Motorola’s former executive vice president and director of research.

In addition to Kleiner, investors in the Series B round were Access Ventures, DFJ, Garrett Capital, Oxford Biosciences, Radius Ventures and Stanford University. The company now has $23 million of venture capital under its belt.

ZettaCore makes ultra-dense memory devices out of molecules that are one nanometer wide. The small size increases the amount of memory that can be placed on a single chip by 100 times, meaning the company can put 128 gigabytes of memory where 128 megabytes sit now. More memory means better performance for various electronics.

ZettaCore was formed in 1999, with technology spun out of the labs of the University of California at Riverside and North Carolina State University, and scored its first round of venture funding in late 2001. Since then, it has developed working prototypes of its technology.

With this round of funding, the company plans to transform these prototypes into working designs for customers. The funding also will be used to add another 15 employees and to continue research and development efforts.

Once ready for market, the company plans to license its technology to other chip designers and to sell the technology to contract manufacturers. Chips using the company’s memory technology are expected to hit the market within another two to three years, says Randy Levine, president and CEO.