Open Kernel Labs raises $7.6 million

The embedded-virtualization spinout of Australia's NICTA gets $7.6 million in venture funding from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and Citrix Systems without many noticing.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

There hasn't been much Web chatter around Open Kernel Labs, but late last week, the Chicago-based Open Kernel Labs, a spinout from Australia's NICTA, announced a $7.6 million investment from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and Citrix Systems.

This follows a $2.5 million grant Open Kernel Labs recently received from NICTA.

Not much noise is made about Open Kernel Labs because it operates in the embedded-virtualization market, providing microkernel technology to manufacturers of electronics such as mobile handsets.

Importantly, while based on the open-source General Public License 3, the company is able to segregate differently licensed components and run on Linux, Windows, or other embedded operating systems (including real-time operating systems), which is a critical requirement in the embedded world.

True to its open-source roots, developers can dig through information on the source code, another key advantage to an open-source microkernel technology. The embedded market invests a lot of time and resources in customizing code: it's the one market in which modifiability of source code is a must-have feature.

I haven't seen much funding in the embedded-operating-system market since my own company in that market, Lineo, sold to Metrowerks in late 2002. It's nice to see the eruption of the mobile market turning interest toward open-source embedded software again.