May
08
2018
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Intel Capital pumps $72M into AI, IoT, cloud and silicon startups, $115M invested so far in 2018

Intel Capital, the investment arm of the computer processor giant, is today announcing $72 million in funding for the 12 newest startups to enter its portfolio, bringing the total invested so far this year to $115 million. Announced at the company’s global summit currently underway in southern California, investments in this latest tranche cover artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, cloud services, and silicon. A detailed list is below.

Other notable news from the event included a new deal between the NBA and Intel Capital to work on more collaborations in delivering sports content, an area where Intel has already been working for years; and the news that Intel has now invested $125 million in startups headed by minorities, women and other under-represented groups as part of its Diversity Initiative. The mark was reached 2.5 years ahead of schedule, it said.

The range of categories of the startups that Intel is investing in is a mark of how the company continues to back ideas that it views as central to its future business — and specifically where it hopes its processors will play a central role, such as AI, IoT and cloud. Investing in silicon startups, meanwhile, is a sign of how Intel is also focusing on businesses that are working in an area that’s close to the company’s own DNA.

It’s hasn’t been a completely smooth road. Intel became a huge presence in the world of IT and early rise of desktop and laptop computers many years ago with its advances in PC processors, but its fortunes changed with the shift to mobile, which saw the emergence of a new wave of chip companies and designs for smaller and faster devices. Mobile is area that Intel itself acknowledged it largely missed out.

Later years have seen still other issues hit the company. For example, the Spectre security flaw (fixes for which are still being rolled out). And some of the business lines where Intel was hoping to make a mark have not panned out as it hoped they would. Just last month, Intel shut down development of its Vaunt smart glasses and reportedly the entirety of its new devices group.

The investments that Intel Capital makes, in contrast, are a fresher and more optimistic aspect of the company’s operations: they represent hopes and possibilities that still have everything to play for. And given that, on balance, things like AI and cloud services still have a long way to go before being truly ubiquitous, there remains a lot of opportunity for Intel.

“These innovative companies reflect Intel’s strategic focus as a data leader,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel senior vice president and president of Intel Capital, in a statement. “They’re helping shape the future of artificial intelligence, the future of the cloud and the Internet of Things, and the future of silicon. These are critical areas of technology as the world becomes increasingly connected and smart.”

Intel Capital since 1991 has put $12.3 billion into 1,530 companies covering everything from autonomous driving to virtual reality and e-commerce and says that more than 660 of these startups have gone public or been acquired. Intel has organised its investment announcements thematically before: last October, it announced $60 million in 15 big data startups.

Here’s a rundown of the investments getting announced today. Unless otherwise noted, the startups are based around Silicon Valley:

Avaamo is a deep learning startup that builds conversational interfaces based on neural networks to address problems in enterprises — part of the wave of startups that are focusing on non-consumer conversational AI solutions.

Fictiv has built a “virtual manufacturing platform” to design, develop and deliver physical products, linking companies that want to build products with manufacturers who can help them. This is a problem that has foxed many a startup (notable failures have included Factorli out of Las Vegas), and it will be interesting to see if newer advances will make the challenges here surmoutable.

Gamalon from Cambridge, MA, says it has built a machine learning platform to “teaches computers actual ideas.” Its so-called Idea Learning technology is able to order free-form data like chat transcripts and surveys into something that a computer can read, making the data more actionable. More from Ron here.

Reconova out of Xiamen, China is focusing on problems in visual perception in areas like retail, smart home and intelligent security.

Syntiant is an Irvine, CA-based AI semiconductor company that is working on ways of placing neural decision making on chips themselves to speed up processing and reduce battery consumption — a key challenge as computing devices move more information to the cloud and keep getting smaller. Target devices include mobile phones, wearable devices, smart sensors and drones.

Alauda out of China is a container-based cloud services provider focusing on enterprise platform-as-a-service solutions. “Alauda serves organizations undergoing digital transformation across a number of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, aviation, energy and automotive,” Intel said.

CloudGenix is a software-defined wide-area network startup, addressing an important area as more businesses take their networks and data into the cloud and look for cost savings. Intel says its customers use its broadband solutions to run unified communications and data center applications to remote offices, cutting costs by 70 percent and seeing big speed and reliability improvements.

Espressif Systems, also based in China, is a fabless semiconductor company, with its system-on-a-chip focused on IoT solutions.

VenueNext is a “smart venue” platform to deliver various services to visitors’ smartphones, providing analytics and more to the facility providing the services. Hospitals, sports stadiums and others are among its customers.

Lyncean Technologies is nearly 18 years old (founded in 2001) and has been working on something called Compact Light Source (CLS), which Intel describes as a miniature synchrotron X-ray source, which can be used for either extremely detailed large X-rays or very microscopic ones. This has both medical and security applications, making it a very timely business.

Movellus “develops semiconductor technologies that enable digital tools to automatically create and implement functionality previously achievable only with custom analog design.” Its main focus is creating more efficient approaches to designing analog circuits for systems on chips, needed for AI and other applications.

SiFive makes “market-ready processor core IP based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture,” founded by the inventors of RISC-V and led by a team of industry veterans.

Jan
16
2018
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Nyansa lands $15 million led by Intel Capital to grow user performance management

 Companies like New Relic and AppDynamics have been offering applications performance management solutions to help operations teams track external performance issues for years. Nyansa (pronounced ‘knee-ans-sah’) is bringing that kind of performance management to internal networks. Today, the company announced a $15 million Series B investment. The round was led by Intel Capital… Read More

Oct
19
2017
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Data is the name of the game, as Intel Capital puts $60M in 15 startups, $566M in 2017 overall

 Intel Capital, the investment arm of the processor giant, is today announcing its latest tranche of investments, a total of nearly $60 million going in to 15 startups that are working on solving different problems in the bigger area of big data (with a full rundown below). The investments come on the back of a big year for the group: In 2017 so far, Intel says that it’s invested $566… Read More

Sep
18
2017
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Matroid picks up $10M Series A to automate video stream monitoring

 As computer vision and object recognition technology continue to mature, we’re edging closer to automating away the exceedingly boring task of monitoring closed circuit TV cameras. Matroid is one of the startups leading the democratization of this variety of machine intelligence. The company is announcing a $10 million Series A this morning from NEA and Intel Capital that brings… Read More

Nov
18
2016
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French IoT startup Sigfox confirms €150M Series E at €600M valuation

sigfox-logo Sigfox, the IoT company based out of France that is building a dedicated, global network to connect, monitor and control devices like smart-home alarms, machinery, refrigerators and city streetlights, today confirmed that it has closed its latest round of funding, a Series E round of €150 million ($160 million). We broke the news of this round in October, noting it was likely to be… Read More

Aug
03
2016
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Panoply.io raises $7M Series A for its data analytics and warehousing platform

Panoply.io, a startup that wants to make setting up a data warehousing and analytics infrastructure as easy as spinning up an AWS server, today announced that it has raised a $7 million Series A round led by Intel Capital, with participation from previous investor Blumberg Capital. This follows Panoply’s $1.3 million seed round from late last year. Read More

Nov
10
2015
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Suddenly Every Company Is Becoming A Venture Capitalist

Person handing another person a stack of bills. It has often been said that every company is a software company or even a big data company, but as I attended the Intel Capital Global Summit last week, another thought occurred to me: every company is now also an investment company. The star of the show last week was Intel Capital of course, the venture arm of Intel Corporation, but it’s far from alone. Over dinner strictly by… Read More

Mar
06
2014
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Emotient Raises $6M For Facial Expression Recognition Tech, Debuts Google Glass Sentiment Analysis App

Emotient, a startup based out of San Diego that works in the emerging area of facial expression recognition, is today announcing a $6 million round of funding and its first steps into applying its technology in the wearables market: a new piece of “glassware” for Google Glass that measures sentiment analysis based on reading people through the headgear’s camera. Read More

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