Laser Maker nLight Adds $17.5M, Mulls IPO

Semiconductor laser manufacturer nLight Corp. is heading toward a possible public stock offering after completing a $17.5 million round of venture financing from existing investors.

In an interview with VentureWire, chief financial officer Dave Schaezler said nLight is “at a size where it makes sense to plan for an IPO,” although the Vancouver, WA-based company doesn’t have specific dates in mind for an initial IPO filing. (The full VentureWire story is behind a paywall, but a the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch has a summary.)

The latest venture round included participation from longtime investors Oak Investment Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Menlo Ventures, which nLight described in a release as having “a strong record of companies achieving initial public offerings.” nLight’s total equity funding stands at about $110 million.

The company, founded in 2000, makes lasers for a wide array of uses in medical, defense, and industrial scenarios. The company said it has continued to grow its profitability while adding more than 100 employees in the past year and booking more than $60 million in orders in the first six months of 2011.

The news is part of a long-term survivor’s tale for nLight. The company was started in Seattle, and initially focused on the telecommunications industry. That quickly changed when telecoms went through a huge downturn in 2001.

As we reported in this 2009 profile, nLight dropped from about 80 employees down to 20 and refocused on different sectors, an era that CEO Scott Keeney said the company “barely survived.” Looks like it’s paying off now.

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