A secret ‘Electronic Warfare’ startup is raising US$15 million

Innovation

CX2, which is still in stealth, is being led by serial entrepreneur Nathan Mintz, who co-founded the counter-drone unicorn Epirus.
Nathan Mintz

Serial entrepreneur Nathan Mintz has a vision for a new defense prime focused on electronic warfare.

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Andreessen Horowitz is leading a $15 million seed funding round into a secret defense startup led by a serial entrepreneur who is planning to build weapons for electronic warfare, an emerging need for the U.S. military, Forbes has learned.

Led by Nathan Mintz, a co-founder and former CEO of the defense tech unicorn Epirus, the new company is called CX2, and is finalizing talks to close on the massive seed funding round.

A16z’s American Dynamism team, which funds companies “that support the national interest,” is leading the investment, along with the venture firm 8VC, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Forbes. The deal valuation could not be immediately learned, nor what other investors were involved.

Chris Beach, a spokesperson for 8VC, confirmed the firm’s investment alongside a16z, and said the company will address “a critical gap based on learnings from modern warfare.” He declined to provide more details on the company, and referred Forbes to Mintz.

Mintz declined to comment. A16z didn’t respond to a comment request.


Mintz’s new endeavor comes amid a resurgence of interest from the Pentagon in electronic warfare, which has taken center stage in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Both sides have used directed energy weapons to stop drone attacks and intercept communications — though recent Russian success using EW to thwart Ukrainian drone attacks and send U.S.-made munitions veering off course has prompted calls for the U.S. to more urgently invest in the technology.

“What we have seen in the Ukraine-Russian conflict is more [electronic warfare] than we have ever seen before,” U.S. Space Force Colonel Nicole Petrucci said at a conference in April. “We’ve actually been studying this very carefully to see what’s going on.”

The U.S Space Force launched a unit in September to deploy its first EW system, a ground-based radio frequency jammer used to interfere with enemy satellite communications. The Army recently said it is shifting to bolstering EW capabilities in the Pacific, while the Air Force is rushing to deploy its own tools.

Mintz has spent much of the past two decades building sensors and weapons systems, starting his career at Raytheon and then Boeing. Along with 8VC’s Joe Lonsdale, with whom Mintz met while attending Stanford, he cofounded Epirus in 2018, a California-based company that makes microwave weapons to zap drones out of the sky; the company is now valued at $1.4 billion after raising $300 million from investors like Lonsdale and Geoff Lewis at Bedrock.

Then in 2020, Mintz left Epirus and started another company Spartan Radar to build radars for autonomous vehicles, which is also backed by 8VC’s Lonsdale.

The EW sector is currently dominated by incumbent defense giants — BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Gruman, among others — that have been selling systems to the Pentagon for decades. But given Mintz’s background, investors like Lonsdale clearly see potential in CX2 to address a growing demand for EW systems from the Pentagon.

“The way I see it, directed energy weapons are a game changer on the battlefield,” Mintz told Lonsdale on a podcast last year. “They don’t have any of these magazine depth problems…the headlines right now are plagued with ammunition shortages and missile shortages and how are we going to replenish all this? The easy solution: don’t use ammunition at all.”

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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