How a $1,000 Personal Check turned into a Company with a Multibillion-Dollar Valuation

Past Tides
November 30, 2018 By Jackie Connor

TAE Technologies CEO Michl Binderbauer and Hollywood actor Harry Hamlin catch up with the ACA during a fireside chat with UCI Applied Innovation’s Richard Sudek.

The Angel Capital Association held a three-day conference at the Cove @ UCI, which featured a fireside chat with TAE Technologies’ Chief Executive Officer Michl Binderbauer and Harry Hamlin, Hollywood actor and one of the company’s earliest investors. With an initial concept and Hamlin’s $1,000 personal check, TAE developed from UCI intellectual property and evolved into a fusion energy company with a multi billion-dollar valuation, which is now located in Lake Forest.
Moderated by Richard Sudek, UCI Applied Innovation’s chief innovation officer and executive director, the trio discussed TAE’s history and the continuous progress towards commercializing fusion energy.

Fireside Chat moderator Richard Sudek, Applied Innovation chief innovation officer and executive director asks one of TAE’s investors Harry Hamlin, Hollywood actor and TAE CEO Michl Binderbauer about the company’s journey towards commercialization. Photo: Marissa Koo

TAE develops clean fusion energy, which is used as an inexpensive and abundant source without creating lasting toxic waste. The company began on UCI’s campus in 1998 with Hamlin’s initial contribution. TAE earned acclaim for its breakthrough work in fusion energy and propriety accelerator beam technology and Binderbauer was quick to recognize UCI’s support in this effort.

“There’s something here that’s very different with the bridge Richard is building,” said Binderbauer of UCI and Applied Innovation. “There is a spirit here that is unique, it’s visionary and that’s exactly what happened in this project through the support we got from the university.”

The trio also discussed priming their IP portfolio, which includes TAE Fusion Power, the platform for fusion power generation; TAE Life Sciences, an innovative approach to cancer therapy; as well as other early stage adjacent technologies.

“Ultimately, think of TAE as a technology provider,” said Binderbauer. “We’re not going to build power plants–those are low margin things. It’s the interesting parts, the software, the technology, this is where the company’s focus is.”

The company has raised over $600 million with plans to commercialize their technology within the next five years, as well as expand their IP portfolio over the next decade.

Hamlin and Binderbauer discuss the future of TAE and the journey from their inital beginnings at UCI. Photo: Marissa Koo

“Without Michl coming on board, nothing you saw on that screen would have happened,” said Hamlin during the presentation. “The way he orchestrated that symphony of science has been absolutely historical. It comes down to the people; it comes down to if you find the right person to run the ship, that’s when you are going to have success.”

Find out more information about TAE and Applied Innovation’s latest events.