Gesture recognition co PrimeSense raises $50m

The round was led by US private equity firm Silver Lake.

Israeli start up PrimeSense Inc., whose technology forms part of Kinect, the device that allows players of Microsoft's Xbox 360 to operate games remotely with body movements, recently completed a $50 million funding round. The round was led by US private equity firm Silver Lake, which manages $14 billion.

This is the firm's first investment in an Israeli start up. PrimeSense's existing investors, venture capital firms Gemini, Genesis, and Canaan Partners, also participated in the current round.

PrimeSense is a fabless semiconductor company that develops products for the multimedia consumer electronics industry.

PrimeSense was founded by five entrepreneurs - president Aviad Maizels, CTO Alexander Shpunt, Dmitri Reiss, Ophir Sharon, and Tamir Berliner - in 2005. CEO Inon Beracha joined the company early on. The company has raised $29 million since it was founded, and the present round boosts the figure to $79 million.

PrimeSense operates in the electronic games and media industry. Its five co-founders are gamers who wanted to improve users' gaming experience and make games more intuitive and easier. The development of its proprietary technology and processor means that various electronic devices can capture the 3D world and become more user-friendly. In other words, electronic devices can scan the user, who can operate them with gestures instead of via a remote control device.

The potential was quick to emerge, despite the hard times in the industry. Within five years and with fairly limited capital for a chip company, PrimeSense chalked up achievements and profits.

At the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Maizels told "Globes" in an interview, "We constantly get acquisition offers, but we want to be part of an industry in Israel and we don’t intend to be easily sold."

"Globes": The way that PrimeSense is behaving, it appears that it will begin making acquisitions of its own soon. Are you planning an IPO soon?

Beracha: "We have pursued the same line since the company was founded. It's possible to reach Nasdaq strong and sound, or to reach it exhausted. It is possible to continue growing as a public company, or to run out of steam after a few quarters. Happily, this financing round will meet the company's needs at this time."

What are those needs?

"We're growing fast, and the growth is organic. Revenue is rising accordingly. We now have 50 employees, and we'll have 80 next year. We're a balanced and profitable company, and the present round enables us to consider non-organic growth options. That's why we needed money."

What is planned for the next stage.

"To bring our products not just to the living room, but also to mobile computers. Later, we'll expand to all electronic devices in order to make them more user-friendly.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 12, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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