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ThingMagic Raises $9.5 Million

CEO Tom Grant says the latest round of funding will help the company continue to develop custom RFID solutions and UHF passive-tag readers for specific applications.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 14, 2008ThingMagic, a privately held RFID reader supplier, has secured an additional $9.5 million in funding from its current investors. The money will be used to help the Cambridge, Mass., company continue on its strategic course to develop embedded RFID readers and fixed RFID interrogators designed for particular applications, and to collaborate with customers to build custom RFID solutions.

Founded in 2000, ThingMagic was an early player in the passive EPC UHF RFID market. Its initial work centered on RFID interrogators for supply chain applications that were being spurred by RFID initiatives at Wal-Mart, the U.S. Department of Defense and others.

Tom Grant
ThingMagic operated for five years without outside investments. In 2005 and 2006, the company's first round of funding brought it a total of about $21 million, provided by several investment-management and private equity firms, as well as networking giant Cisco (see Cisco Backs ThingMagic).

The $9.5 million in new funding, announced today, comes from existing investors, including Tudor Ventures, The Exxel Group, Morningside Technology Ventures and 406 Ventures.

According to Tom Grant, ThingMagic's chairman and CEO, the company began embarking on a new strategic direction more than a year ago with the introduction of its embedded Mercury M5e and subsequent M5e-Compact readers. First introduced in March 2008, the Mercury M5e is optimized for EPC Gen 2 tags and employs the RFID Transceiver R1000 chip developed by Intel and now made by Impinj (see Impinj Acquires Intel's UHF RFID Reader Chip Operation).

The R1000 integrates a number of components into a single integrated RFID circuit, enabling digital signal processing and analog data processing on the same chip. The M5e-Compact is designed for mobile, portable and handheld RFID applications; compared with the M5e, it consumes one-third the power and is half the size (56 by 36 by 5 millimeters).

"When you develop a reader that is smaller, like the M5e-Compact," Grant says, "you can begin to deploy it in a variety of new places. That turned out to be a very intelligent move on our part, and enormously expanded our customer list." What's more, he adds, both the M5e and M5e-Compact, by design, combine multi-region capability into a single module, making it easier to deploy regulation-compliant products in North America, South America, Europe, South Korea, Japan and China.

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