Sabeus Photonics Get $16 Million in Funding

Jan. 16, 2002
Sabeus Photonics, Inc, an optical components supplier to manufacturers such as Marconi, Alcatel Submarine and others, has attracted an additional $16 million in financing. The company plans to use the funds to develop and market additional "high-concept" optical devices that utilize high technology to achieve simple, elegant, and cost-effective components for the optical network

Sabeus Photonics, Inc, an optical components supplier to manufacturers such as Marconi, Alcatel Submarine and others, has attracted an additional $16 million in financing. The company plans to use the funds to develop and market additional "high-concept" optical devices that utilize high technology to achieve simple, elegant, and cost-effective components for the optical network.

Sabeus will expand its manufacturing facilities to provide higher capacity for currently-shipping and future high-concept devices. This is the first closing of the company's third round of funding, bringing total financing to date to over $24 million.

"Sabeus is a most refreshing startup," said Brad Jones of Redpoint Ventures, which led the company's first investment round, of the three-year-old venture. "Not only does it have breakthrough technology that will sustain its market position for years to come, but it is already shipping products that are acknowledged as the very best in their category." Redpoint joins other investors in this round which was led by TL Ventures and also includes Digital Coast Ventures, and CSFB Ventures.

Sabeus has pioneered the "high-concept" device, a component that offers dramatic reductions in system cost and complexity through the sheer elegance and simplicity of its design. High-concept devices use revolutionary technology to achieve complicated or precise results using simple, cost-effective materials and processes. This is in contrast to "Moore's Law" devices, such as microprocessors or other chips, that become increasingly complex with each product generation.

Andre de Fusco, Sabeus' CEO explained: "It's a matter of economics. For over four decades, technology's focus has been on ever-increasing complexity, through denser and denser electronic integration. But to achieve the required process and cost breakthroughs in photonics, it is often the case that less is more. With the right technological insights, scientists and engineers can design entire families of important devices that are deceptively simple yet achieve complex results." This is important, said de Fusco, because network engineers have often already engineered every conceivable efficiency out of the network or network equipment. "We replace expensive complexity with cost-effective simplicity - without compromising performance. It's the next big thing in photonics." he said.

As a case in point, Sabeus is a leader in "mode-coupled" devices. Mode coupling, as broadly defined by Sabeus, refers to influencing light in a communications fiber or other transmission medium to interact with itself or with the medium to accomplish specific signal processing tasks such as filtering, multiplexing, de-multiplexing, modulation, or amplification. Sabeus mode coupling technology enables the creation of unusually precise filters, for example, out of a 10-cent piece of optical fiber. "Such high concepts are not unknown," said Redpoint's Jones, "but Sabeus is taking them to a high art."

Sabeus has been shipping production quantities of such devices for over 18 months, and has attained the Telcordia 1221 certification for its highly-automated prototyping and manufacturing operation. Products include ultra-precise, fiber-based gain-flattening filters that are manufactured in high volume to unique customer specifications, and fiber-based pump laser stabilizers, for use in such products as EDFAs (erbium-doped fiber amplifiers) and RAMAN amplifiers.

The pump laser stabilizers offer another example of the high concept: Sabeus is the only company that can etch complex patterns into the core of an optical fiber - necessary to create in-fiber components such as the pump laser stabilizer - by "writing" through the polymer coating. Other manufacturers must strip off the coating, etch their patterns, and then recoat the fiber - a process that destroys the mechanical integrity of the fiber. The unique Sabeus approach is elegant, simple, and attacks the largest element of optical component cost: packaging In 2002 the company will parlay its mode-coupling and manufacturing expertise into additional complexity-reducing, high-concept components such as dynamically tunable filters, bandpass filters, and field-programmable components.

Sabeus has been able to pioneer these new technologies because of its unique blend of inhouse expertise. The company was founded by Dr. Jack Feinberg, one of the world's leaders in nonlinear optics, and Dr. Dmitry Starodubov, Sabeus' chief technology officer and former head of the head of the photosensitivity group for the Fiber Optics Research Center at the General Physics Institute, Russian Academy of Science in Moscow. The team also includes Dr. Bill Morey, one of the "fathers" of the fiber Bragg grating, and Dhiren Patel, an acknowledged industry expert veteran in the manufacture of precise optical components.

Massoud Entekhabi, managing director of TL Ventures in Santa Monica, CA, commented, "This team is unmatched, in my experience, in its fundamental understanding of the complex physics of light in waveguides, and in certain computer-controlled, volume manufacturing technologies. It's no wonder they hit the ground running."

Sabeus Photonics, Inc. is a technology leader in the design and manufacture of high-concept optical devices for use throughout the optical communications network. High-concept devices use revolutionary technology to achieve complex results in a simple, elegant fashion. Sabeus' high-concept mode-coupling technology, based upon the company's unique understanding of the physics of light and materials, has enabled Sabeus to become, in a very short period of time, the pre-eminent manufacturer of several high-precision, cost-effective, in-fiber optical components used by Marconi, Alcatel Submarine, and other major optical equipment vendors. These products represent the first in a variety of Sabeus high-concept devices that will continue to revolutionize the economics of the optical network.

Sabeus is located in Chatsworth, CA, with an advanced development facility in Long Beach, CA. Investors include Agere Systems, Inc, Credit Suisse First Boston, Digital Coast Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and TL Ventures. The company, which was founded in 1998, has over 60 employees, and has applied for or has received 15 patents for its high-concept optical technology. Sabeus sells direct in the U.S, and through distribution in Europe and Asia.

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