Peraso, armed with $42M in latest round, sees traction in fixed wireless space

Fabless semiconductor company Peraso Technologies has raised an additional $42 million in financing, primarily from two strategic investors and some existing investors, namely Roadmap Capital.

The financing provides enough to get to a positive cash flow position, supporting the ramp-up of its 802.11ad products, the development of 802.11ay products and the ongoing expansion of the company to support those activities, according to Bill McLean, president and CEO.

However, the company has changed its tune somewhat from a year ago, when it was talking about AR/VR to a large degree. It hasn’t discontinued its activities there, but it’s no longer forward investing, so to speak, in part because it’s a very challenging area especially for a startup, McLean told FierceWirelessTech.

“Where we are seeing a lot of traction is in the fixed wireless marketplace,” he added.

The reason it’s focusing on the OEMs that serve Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) is it’s a good-sized market that traditionally has been serviced by Wi-Fi—and based on what customers have told them, Peraso’s leadership doesn’t believe that Wi-Fi will continue to offer those customers a path forward.

“They don’t believe 802.11ax is going to support their needs going forward,” and that’s why they’re taking a hard turn to WiGig, McLean said.

RELATED: Peraso looks to scale WiGig technology over next 6 months

One really critical issue with 802.11ax is it’s in the 5 GHz band, which is getting saturated. The beauty with 60 GHz is it’s a fresh band and interference-free. “What we’re hearing is with ax, the interference issues are really not worth dealing with in terms of implementing that generation,” said Ron Glibbery, founder and senior VP of corporate development at Peraso.

Of course, Peraso has been keeping tabs on Facebook’s ventures in the 60 GHz band, with its attempts to effectively drive a standard for fixed wireless. If and when there’s serious market demand, Peraso will be able to easily move forward and support that, according to the executives.

“It’s still emerging,” Glibbery said, stressing that they’ve chosen the 60 GHz band for largely the same reasons: it’s unlicensed and greenfield, largely interference-free, and getting as much bandwidth as possible for fixed wireless is optimal.

Peraso has more than 100 employees with the majority in Toronto. “We think we have one of the preeminent millimeter wave development teams in the industry,” McLean said, noting the benefit of working closely with two universities in the Toronto area from which to draw talent and the stability of the workforce compared to Silicon Valley. “We have a very stable team,” that’s been together almost a decade developing millimeter wave-type products.

Peraso is also working with a number of customers in the areas of wireless networking and 4K wireless video distribution.

“I like to say that WiGig has been around for a long time but I think some of the applications are just now catching up to it,” McLean said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”