Alameda, Califonira-based Sila Nanotechnologies, which is developing and manufacturing energy-dense lithium-silicon battery materials, announced Thursday that it has raised $70 million in a series D round. The round, which brings the company’s total funding to about $125 million, was led by Sutter Hill Ventures and joined by previous investors such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Samsung, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners and Changwei Capital. Also joining the round were Next47, Siemens’ venture funding arm, and battery manufacturer Amperex Technology Limited. According to PitchBook, this round brings to company to a $350 million valuation.
The goal of the funding, according to CEO and cofounder Gene Berdichevsky, is primarily to move the company into commercial production of its proprietary battery material, which is currently in the qualification phase with a number of different battery manufactures. The company’s goal is to be in “millions” of wearable devices such as fitness trackers and other products by next year.
“It’s a substantial amount that allows us to expand into commercial deployments,” he said.
Sila Nanotechnologies manufactures a nanocomposite that enables silicon to be used as an anode in lithium-ion batteries instead of graphite, which is the material most manufacturers currently use. Using silicon allows batteries to hold more energy in the same amount of space, which is of great interest for consumer electronics devices as well as electric and hybrid cars.
There are dozens of battery startups working to introduce new and better technologies, but one advantage that Sila has is that its battery material can drop into existing manufacturing processes, reducing capital expenditure by manufacturers who want to give their batteries a boost.
With this new funding being used to get its materials into commercial production, Berdichevsky also highlights that the company is moving out of the development phase.
“That’s the differentiation we want to hold – we’re in product,” he said.
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To assist with the company’s move into production, the company has also announced several new executive hires. This includes Warren DeSouza to be its new chief financial officer. DeSouza is a veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, having served as CFO of Aimmune Therapeutics and VP of finance at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. The company has also hired Linda Miller, formerly of Applied Materials, to be its VP of supply chain and Eric Larkin, who formerly worked at Tesla, to be its VP of data systems.
“As we get product into market, the demand for better batteries will be insatiable,” Berdichevsky said to explain the need for the new hires. “So we’re going to be looking at how to expand quickly and how do we deploy capital to build factories. We want to start planning for that in advance.”
Read more about Sila Nanotechnologies in this article from the June 30, 2018 issue.
Company: Sila Nanotechnologies
Job: Chief Financial Officer
Cand: DeSouza, Warren