Bristol, UK based AI startup Graphcore announced the completion of a $50 million Series C fundraising round. The latest round brings the company’s total fundraising to a whopping $110 million. This round was led by Sequoia Capital.
Sequoia Capital is a household name in Silicon Valley venture capital arenas. Sequoia has backed companies like Google and Apple in their early days, and has taken many startups from mere ideas to multinational companies.
Graphcore is currently developing new generation computer processors that can be used to train artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The company claims its IPU (intelligence processing units) can improve the performance of machine learning training from 10x to 100x compared with current chips.
The funding round comes just four months after Graphcore announced a Series B round that brought in a $30 million investment from Atomico, the London-based VC firm set up by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström; Demis Hassabis, the CEO of Google-owned AI lab DeepMind; Zoubin Ghahramanic, the chief scientist of Uber, and several other investors.
Graphcore plans to start shipping its processors during the first half of 2018, using the money from the Series C funding round to accelerate growth. The funding will specifically be used to scale up production to build a community of developers around its Poplar software and investing in its Palo Alto-based team.
As part of the deal, Matt Miller, partner at Sequoia, is joining Graphcore’s board. In a statement, he said:
“Machine intelligence will cause an explosion of new applications and services that will transform every industry. The unique nature of this workload and scale of this opportunity creates an opening where a valuable new chip company can be created. We believe Graphcore’s product architecture, team and early market interest make it the best positioned new entrant in this market. We look forward to helping them build a large and enduring company.”
Nigel Toon, CEO at Graphcore said: “Efficient AI processing power is rapidly becoming the most sought-after resource in the technological world. We believe our IPU technology will become the worldwide standard for machine intelligence compute. The performance of Graphcore’s processor, compared to other accelerators, is going to be transformative, whether you are a medical researcher, roboticist, online marketplace, social network or building autonomous vehicles.”