Battery start-up Leyden Energy raises $10 million

Lithium-ion battery start-up Leyden Energy announced Wednesday that it has raised $10 million in a follow-on round  from existing investors, including including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Lightspeed Ventures, Sigma Partners and Walden International.

That’s no easy feat for a battery start-up these days. In October, battery-maker A123 filed for bankruptcy, and the battery ecosystem has suffered as a result.

“The environment was challenging,” said CEO Rick Wilmer in an interview about raising money late last year. “The collapse of A123 put a damper on things. But we’re very different from A123 in terms of the markets we’re focusing on, and we’re very lightweight from a capital standpoint.”

The Fremont-based company is developing flat and rectangular “pouch cells” for the fast-growing consumer electronics market and is moving into the automotive market. But Leyden not trying to be a full-blown battery maker for electric vehicles: its focus is “start-stop vehicles,” where the engine turns off when the car comes to a stop.  So-called SSVs get 10 to 15 percent better gas mileage than traditional vehicles but need batteries capable of cycling and recharging hundreds of times per trip.

“Our main focus is thin mobile consumer electronics: tablets, smartphones, high-end headphones,” said Leyden. “Stop-start is a less expensive way to begin to electrify transportation.”

Wilmer was named Leyden’s president and CEO in  May 2012; he was previously the CEO of Pliant Technology, which was acquired by SanDisk.

Leyden, which has about 45 full time employees, has relationships with Dr. Battery and NVIDIA but hasn’t announced other customers.


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