Fabless Chip Designer Sheds Stealth Cloak, Changes Name to Enerv

1/26/11Follow @bvbigelow

Pervasive was keeping a low profile last year, when I reported the fabless semiconductor design startup had raised $6 million in a round led by two Bay Area venture firms, New Enterprise Associates and Walden International. But that’s not true any more.

Reza Mirkhani, the company’s San Diego-based founder and CEO, tells me the company has changed its name to EnVerv, and is no longer in stealth mode.

EnVerv specializes in designing communications chips for advanced metering infrastructure and related power grid and utility applications. “The core strategy is to deliver a mission-critical level of performance to smart grid communications,” Mirkhani says. The company’s “system-on-a-chip” technology for power line communications enables a utility to transmit and receive data, using its own electric power lines as the carrier between communication nodes.

EnVerv, which had 22 employees seven months ago, now has more than 30 employees and full-time consultants, most of whom work in the company’s Milpitas, CA, office. Mirkhani says the company also has expanded its product development so it can offer chipsets that have been optimized for different markets overseas. Most of the customers targeted by EnVerv are outside the United States.

Developing a specialized chipset for a single market makes more sense in Europe than in the United States, where some 2,700 utilities operate the nationwide power grid, Mirkhani says. A single utility runs the power grid in Italy, and the same is true in France. In Spain, three utilities operate the nationwide power grid.

EnVerv has raised a total of $6 million since it was founded last year, and will likely need to raise another $12 million to $15 million by May or June, Mirkhani says. The company is fortunate to have NEA and Walden as lead investors, he adds, “because in the markets we’re entering, our financial backing is one of the first things that potential customers look at.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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