Graphcore (Bristol, UK) has raised a further $222 million that the company says will be used to speed development of its AI and machine learning chips, systems and software development.
The E-series funding brings the total raised since its founding in 2016 to $710 million, valuing the company at $2.77 billion.
Graphcore’s co-founder and CEO, Nigel Toon, said the latest investment “underscores the size of the market opportunity that Graphcore is addressing in datacenter AI compute, as well as the maturity of the company’s product offerings.”
He suggested the next fundraising could be an IPO but it would be unlikely to come during 2021.
Companies participating in the latest funding round include some of the biggest names in backing technology start-ups, including existing investors Baillie Gifford and Draper Esprit, as well as new investors led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, and funds managed by Schroeders and Fidelity International.
Other companies backing the company include Microsoft, Bosch, BMW, Samsung and Huawei, as well as venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Toon said the stronger balance sheet would build confidence among customers and partners after revenue growth was held back by customer purchasing delays during 2020. He also admitted some projects have been delayed during the difficult year, when almost all its developers have been working remotely.
Toon said the line-up of investors brings to the table deep experience in disruptive technology and support for scale-up businesses and underscores the size of the market opportunity.
“Having the backing of such respected institutional investors says something very powerful about how the markets now view Graphcore.”
As noted in EE Times earlier this week, chip makers focusing on AI have been one of the big favorites for investors over the past 12 months.
Toon said volume production of the company’s second generation process that launched July 2020 would commence in the fourth quarter.
Another highlight during 2020, he added, was the launch of the Graphcore Partner Program, a global network that includes some of the biggest resellers and OEMs in the electronics sector. Members of the program include companies such as Dell, Microsoft and Atos, as well as researchers at leading universities, healthcare and telecommunications focused companies.
He added that the first published benchmarks for the company’s new systems “show them clearly dominating the latest GPU-based set-ups.”
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