Semiconductor startup Astera Labs on track to hit $100 million in revenue this year as data center expands

Onestera Labs co-founders Jitendra Mohan, Sanjay Gajendra and Casey Morrison met at Texas Instruments, where they came up with the idea for a new chip business to remove bottlenecks across data centers. The problem is that connectivity has not kept pace with advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“This is an exciting time for us,” said Gajendra, 48, the company’s chief commercial officer. “This AI and machine learning train is moving fast.”

So in 2017, the trio, all first-time entrepreneurs, quit their jobs to start Santa Clara, California-based Astera to create connectivity solutions that help keep data flowing.​​​ A so-called fabless chip maker that designs chips in the cloud, expediting the process, and then manufactures them by semiconductor giant TSMC.


“People thought it would be easy to connect. It wasn’t a glamorous story, but they all needed plumbing.”


Today, with the rapid growth of data centers, Astera has earned a spot on this year’s Forbes list of next billion dollar startups, the 25 venture capital firms we think are most likely to reach a billion-dollar valuation. Investors include fund giant Fidelity, Intel’s venture capital arm Intel Capital and serial technology entrepreneur Avigdor Willenz, and Astera, recently valued at $950 million, was the first semiconductor company to be shortlisted.

“If you look at the state of the semiconductor market today, now is the time,” said Mohan, 49, the company’s chief executive. “I’m trying to figure out how we’re going to get to a billion dollars. That’s the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

While other chip startups focus on the more glamorous parts of the business, such as using artificial intelligence to develop smarter chips, Astera’s founders chose to focus on how to connect their basic plumbing faster. “Back then, people thought it would be easy to connect,” Gajendra said. “It’s not a glamorous story, but they all need pipes.”

The fundraising happened so quickly that the three were caught off guard at first, Gajendra said. “In five minutes, hey [Willenz] All these numbers are being written, ‘It’s upfront funding and post funding,'” Gajendra said. “We google what all these terms mean in real time because it’s too fast for us. “

To get Amazon’s AWS an early customer, the founders found their contacts at the cloud giant and told them why such a solution to a data center bottleneck was needed. “I don’t know how convinced they are, but we’ve done a good job executing in the past,” Mohan said. “When they’re convinced, that’s when we deliver on our promise. Customers come to us now and say, ‘We have this problem, how do we fix it?'”

Today, the company has three distinct product lines focused on different bottlenecks, and dozens of customers, including Google and Microsoft and AWS. Last year, Astera’s revenue was estimated at $35 million. This year, it is expected to reach $100 million.

While supply chain tightening has delayed many chips, Gajendra said the company has been able to differentiate itself by shipping within three to four-month lead times, noting, “In today’s industry, that like gold dust.”

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