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Ayar Labs, led by Siebel Scholar Alex Wright-Gladstein, Gets $2.5M to Go After Optical Chips for Data Centers

ARTICLE BY: Gregory T. Huang

Xconomy

August 16th 2016

This startup sits at the intersection of electronics, optics, energy efficiency, and the Internet. It is where more than a decade of academic research meets a multibillion-dollar market. This is the story of Ayar Labs, a company founded by Siebel Scholar Alex Wright-Gladstein (MIT Sloan, '15.)

The San Francisco startup, which has roots in Cambridge, MA, and Boulder, CO, is trying to solve a fundamental problem in computer systems, starting with data centers—namely, how to make them perform better while also using less energy. Now, the company has raised seed funding from prominent investors (more on that below) as it gears up to build its first product. And its experience sheds light on how a team of diverse experts can take a broad scientific advance and focus it on a particular market.

The story begins in a classroom at MIT in 2014. Alex Wright-Gladstein was getting her MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She had previously worked in energy efficiency and smart-grid systems at EnerNOC and other companies. She says her “passion for the global warming problem” drove her to look for emerging technologies that she could help commercialize to address some of the world’s big challenges.

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