Rayspan raises $6 million for revolutionary metamaterials

rayspan logoRayspan Corporation, a San Diego based company which has invented innovative metamaterials for high performance wireless networks, has raised $6 million in funding from Sequoia Capital. The deal was lead by Mark Stevens , who focuses on semiconductor, systems and software investments at Sequoia.

metamaterialsMetamaterials are composite materials that are manufactured to have specific electromagnetic behavior characteristics, above and beyond what can be achieved with naturally occurring materials.

According to Rayspan:

Metamaterials technology brings three powerful enabling capabilities
(1) the ability to strongly manipulate the propagation of electromagnetic waves in the confines of small structures
(2) simultaneous support of multiple RF functions, and
(3) the freedom to precisely determine a broad set of parameters which include operating frequency and bandwidth; positive, negative and zero phase offsets; constant phase propagation; and matching conditions and number and positioning of ports.

ImageThe significant result is that electrical components that have a sizable physical footprint, such as an antenna, can now be squeezed into shorter lengths using metamaterials . A standard antenna, whose length is half the wavelength of the signal, can be shortened by a factor of five, using these new materials. This can have a great impact on gadgets where size is an issue, such as mobile devices.

Rayspan has a couple of product lines centering upon MIMO antennas and antenna arrays. MIMO (Multiple input multiple-output) uses antennas both at the transmitter and receiver, and is begining to be used in wireless communication. It offers increase in data throughput and link range without using extra bandwidth or power.These “smart” antennas can see much higher throughput than those of conventional antennas (by a factor of 3 or more).

The technology was developed in association with the University of California, and was presented at the UCLA Faculty Mixer on July 25th.

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MMO Ramayan: A 5000 year old epic gets a new twist

ImageSony Online Entertainment announced on August 9th, 2007, that they will be coming out with an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game based on the Virgin Comics “Ramayan 3393 AD”.

The Ramayan is a 5000+ year old epic which describes the life of Lord Rama, and his clash with the demonical Ravana, in a monumental struggle that ends with the victory of good over evil. The story of the Ramayan has all the ingredients of heroism, evil, and the eternal power struggle between the two, which one can imagine making up the basis of a really fast paced, and exciting fantasy game.

Virgin comics, producer of the comic book “Ramayan 3393 AD”, is one of those iconic productions, which boasts of larger than life personalities, all the way. It was founded by Richard Branson, the dare devil, thrill seeking uber-entrepreneur, Deepak Chopra - the enigmatic doctor and spiritual teacher, and Shekhar Kapur, the brilliant Indian film maker, who received an Oscar nomination for his movie “Elizabeth”.

ramayan 3393 adVirgin Comics has published several comic titles based upon Indian mythology. The company seeks to re-tell traditional stories in a creative, and sometimes fantastical, fashion.

Now Sony Online Entertainment is planning to carry the story telling to the next level with an MMO game for the PC, that is geared not only towards the growing Indian gaming market, but also the international audience which is expected to welcome a new universe of characters and stories, from one of the oldest and most colorful cultures in the world.

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Rotohog: Fantasy sports - real money

ImageRotoHog, an Inglewood CA based fantasy sports site raised $6 million in a Series A round, let by DFJ Dragon and Mission Ventures along with Allen & Co. and SCP Worldwide.

Rotohog is a free website that allows visitors to “manage” a sports team, and the game has a real exchange floor, where players are traded. Gamers have the opportunity to win up to $100,000. Besides that, those who refer players, get another 50% in (real) prize money.

rotohog fantasy sportsThe $6 million capital raise will be used for RotoHog to expand into other sports, beyond football and baseball. They have a social component already, with fans setting up their profiles, and chatting with other enthusiasts.

All this brings up the question, what is their revenue source? At present there is no obvious ad. placement. No doubt, a targeted site like this one, would, with a large enough fan following, bring in a fair amount of niche advertising revenue.

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Accoona: An IPO amongst the bric-bats

accoona logo

The insults keep flying at search engine Accoona, which filed recently for an IPO. It will be listed on Nasdaq for an offer price of about $80.5 million. According to VentureBeat, the search engine is little more than hype and the Acoona IPO smells like a dog . The “search engine” actually derives most of its revenue not from search, but from an electronics retail business.


Accoona, formed in 2004 by a partnership of two Chinese companies China Daily Information Company (CDIC), and China Communications Corp (CCC), claims to use Artificial Intelligence for its search engine (whether this is true AI or just database matching, is not clear).

When they launched in December of 2004, there was a lot of buzz about Accoona. They actually invited President Bill Clinton to do the first search at their launch.

The general consensus on the Accoona IPO is, just because it quacks like an IPO, doesn’t mean it is. Take for example, the fact that the company has consistently posted a loss - 14.8 million for the last quarter, and the search engine has very little traction. Accoona is also using a Google like auction process, according to John Batelle, who has scrutinized their S1.

In 2005, Chinese search engine Baidu.com made a spectacular entry on Nasdaq. Similar to Acoona, Baidu was a relatively small deal but ended up quadrupling from its $27 offer price to $122.54 at the end of its opening day. So it happened that a company with only $8 million in revenue ended up carrying a price tag of $4 billion at the end of its first quarter.

Also Baidu had stalwarts Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston and Piper Jaffray as its underwriters. Accoona is listing Maxim Group LLC (who are they??) as its sole underwriters.

We might be proven wrong, but so far, Accoona is no Baidu!

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