Stealthy Memoir Raises $5.1M Series A To Speed Up Memory

A Series A semiconductor deal is pretty rare these days, so it caught our attention when we saw a regulatory filing today showing that Memoir Systems has raised $5.12 million in first-round funding.

“We’re probably one of the few semiconductor companies funded in the last year or so,” says Sundar Iyer, a repeat entrepreneur and Memoir’s co-founder and CEO.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup isn’t technically a chip company, Iyer says, in the sense that it isn’t designing or building a chip. Instead, “We build IP that gets embedded into standard memory chips and processors” to speed up their memory performance, he says.

The regulatory filing doesn’t list Memoir’s financial backers, but Iyer says Lightspeed Venture Partners was the sole backer of the Series A round and Lightspeed Managing Director Barry Eggers has taken a seat on the company’s board. (Lightspeed previously seeded the company with $750,000 last year.) Memoir will keep the Series A open for about 90 more days to raise an additional $500,000 from angels, Iyer says.

Although he spoke with peHUB today, Iyer says Memoir is just now coming out of stealth mode and doesn’t plan to do a formal media launch for about two to three months.

Iyer wouldn’t say how long it took to raise venture capital or if he pitched Memoir to other VCs besides Lightspeed. “It was a straightforward process for us,” he says. “If it’s a good idea, good team and good market it’s not difficult to raise money. It just takes more diligence and more time.”

This isn’t Iyer’s first startup or experience with VC. He raised $1.5 million in a Series A from
Benchmark Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures and angels in 2004 for Nemo Systems. That company—which he founded in 2003 to develop network memory technology—was bought by Cisco in September 2005 for up to $12.5 million in cash, according to a Cisco press release.

Nemo was different from Memoir in that it “was pinpoint solution for one application in enterprise switching—accelerating packet buffering,” Iyer says. “It only made sense to use in enterprise switches.”
This time around, Iyer is developing memory technology for chips that be used in everything from consumer devices to enterprise hardware. “We’re using pure computer science algorithms to improve [memory] performance,” he says. “We want to improve the performance of memory in a very agnostic fashion. … We expect [our IP] to be virtually everywhere,” he says.

Iyer wouldn’t say how he expects the Series A capital to last, but he says Memoir’s “pilot product is ready and we’re in the process of rolling it out.” (He declined to reveal the number or names of pilot customers.)
Iyer founded Memoir in March 2009 with Da Chuang, who is the company’s chief technology officer.

The two previously worked together from September 2005 to December 2008, leading the network memory group at Cisco Systems (following Cisco’s purchase of Nemo). Previously, Iyer was a founding member and senior architect at SwitchOn Networks, which was bought by PMC-Sierra in September 2001, according to Memoir’s website says.

Chuang was previously a founding member of Abrizio Systems, which was acquired by PMC-Sierra in August 1999, and has worked at Nvidia and Adaptec, according to the website.