Pivotal raises $50M in C round

Pivotal Commware, the millimeter-wave (mmWave) focused startup backed by Bill Gates, closed a $50 million C round led by an affiliate of Tracker Capital Management.

Joining Tracker Capital in the round is Devonshire Investors, a private investment firm affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments. Pivotal’s existing investors, including DIG Investment, Thermo, Lux Capital and Bill Gates, also participated in this round.

Pivotal’s products are based on Holographic Beam Forming technology and used by mobile network operators to improve services using 5G mmWave spectrum – both for mobile and fixed wireless access (FWA).

The company is eyeing this latest round to increase its presence on a global scale. “This capital will allow Pivotal to become a significant 5G telecom infrastructure provider on a global stage,” said Pivotal COO Chris Brandon in a statement.

Since its inception, Pivotal has been a mmWave-focused shop, developing technology for the likes of Verizon and other operators looking to differentiate their 5G offerings with high-capacity, super high-speed services. It supports 28 GHz and 39 GHz and plans to support 24 GHz as well. 

RELATED: Pivotal takes ‘lemons’ out of mmWave to improve coverage

Pivotal CEO Brian Deutsch told Fierce in a recent interview that he expects the company will be looking to expand to other bands, such as the recently auctioned C-band, as well as CBRS, Band n53 and others.

“You’ll start to see us in some of these up-and-coming frequency bands because beamforming matters there also,” Deutsch said. The propagation paradigm isn’t as rigorous as it is in millimeter wave, but “it’s not 700 MHz, either.” The same types of requirements come into play and it’s working with partners now in the OEM and ODM space.  

Band n53 is the Globalstar band that is supported by Qualcomm’s new 5G X65 modem. In Thermo, Pivotal and Globalstar share the same investor. Globalstar Executive Chairman Jay Monroe III has been the majority owner of Thermo Companies since the founding in 1984. 

Thermo Partner and Pivotal board member Kyle Pickens said that since its inception, Pivotal has benefited from an extremely strong and supportive investor base. “With Tracker Capital leading the Series C we maintain that momentum,” he stated. “The progress that Pivotal has recently made in mmWave technologies has been impressive and this capital will be used to turbocharge the company’s development.”

Tracker Capital was founded by Stephen Feinberg, who is also co-founder and co-CEO of Cerberus Capital Management. Shaygan Kheradpir, a senior advisor to Tracker Capital who formerly served as Verizon’s Group CIO and was CEO of Juniper Networks in 2014, is joining Pivotal’s board of directors.

“Pivotal has cracked the code for mmWave 5G,” Kheradpir said in a statement. “Their ecosystem is critical to mobile network operators around the world, and to the future of U.S.-based telecom infrastructure. To deliver on the promise of 5G for industrial internet and immersive web, quantum step improvements in throughput, capacity, latency, and precision are required for the new wave of devices and applications. As the world shifts to mobile edge computing, Pivotal delivers a demonstrable competitive advantage for deploying true 5G applications with dramatically improved efficiency and performance.”

It helps that Pivotal is a U.S.-based company. The last administration emphasized “Made in the U.S.A.” as a way to improve security in telecom, and that’s expected to continue under President Biden.