Graphcore valued at $1.7bn after raising $200m in Series D round

18 Dec 2018676 Views

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Bristol, where Graphcore is based. Image: © Nick/Stock.adobe.com

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AI chipmaker Graphcore is one of Europe’s must-watch deep-tech unicorns.

Bristol-based Graphcore has raised $200m in a funding round that values the company at $1.7bn.

BMW i Ventures and Microsoft have joined the round alongside new and existing investors. The investment comes a year after one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms, Sequoia Capital, invested $50m in a Series C round in the company.

‘Machine intelligence marks the start of a new age of computing, which needs a radically different type of processor and software tools’
– NIGEL TOON

This Series D round was led by existing investor Skype founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico as well as Sofina, a large European investment firm. Merian Global Investors has also joined the round as a major new investor across a number of its managed funds, including Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Ltd.

The funding was fully supported with follow-on investments from existing investors including: Amadeus Capital Partners, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, C4 Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango and Sequoia Capital.

Fine minds and deep pockets

This new funding brings the total capital raised by Graphcore to date to more than $300m from the world’s leading venture capital, financial and strategic investors.

Graphcore has already attracted investments from many of the biggest names in machine intelligence, including: Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind; Zoubin Ghahramani of Cambridge University and chief scientist at Uber; Pieter Abbeel, UC Berkeley; and Greg Brockman, Scott Grey and Ilya Sutskever from OpenAI.

The company is currently in a stage of rapid global growth, tripling the size of the team and opening new offices in London, Palo Alto and Beijing in 2018.

Graphcore has built a completely new kind of processor and software for AI and machine intelligence. The company has been shipping first products to early access customers and generated first revenues this year, just two years after it was founded.

High-volume production is now ramping up to meet customer demand for its intelligence processor unit (IPU) PCIe processor cards. Graphcore’s IPU is said to be the first processor designed specifically for machine intelligence training and inference, and delivers an increase in speed of up to 100 times that of today’s hardware.

“Machine intelligence marks the start of a new age of computing, which needs a radically different type of processor and software tools,” said CEO Nigel Toon.

“This new, fast-growing market creates the opportunity for Graphcore to build a major global technology company that can help innovators in AI achieve important breakthroughs.”

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com