Intel today announced that Intel Capital, its global investment organization, committed a total of $132 million to 11 startups focused on AI, automation, and chipset design. It follows a year in which the firm invested $466 million in 36 new companies (and 35 follow-on investments) and led 72% of its deals through 22 successful exits. In 2020, Intel Capital says it’s on track to invest around the same amount — between $300 million and $500 million — in startups specializing in AI, with a particular focus on intelligent edge devices and network transformation.
Intel doubling down on AI and machine learning is business as usual. During an earnings call late last year, CEO Bob Swan said the company generated $3.8 billion in AI-based revenue in 2019, and that he anticipates the market opportunity will reach $25 billion by 2024. To position itself for growth, Intel recently acquired Habana Labs, an Israel-based developer of programmable AI and machine learning accelerators for cloud datacenters, as well as Moovit, a mobility startup that could be central to Intel subsidiary Mobileye’s plans for a robo-taxi service.
Intel Capital’s expanded investment portfolio includes Redwood City, California-based Anodot, which uses machine learning to perform autonomous business monitoring for clients across telco, finance, and digital sectors. The startup’s platform for real-time, contextual alerts helps to spot incidents — e.g., drops in success rate, customer incidents, app performance, and business metrics — that might impact revenue and costs. In fact, Anodot says it cuts incident management by as much as 80%.
Astera Labs, another new Intel Capital investment, is a fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Santa Clara, California that develops purpose-built connectivity solutions for data-centric systems. It aims to remove performance bottlenecks in compute-intensive workloads like AI and machine learning, with products that span system-aware semiconductor integrated circuits, boards and services, and more.
Intel Capital’s investment in Hypersonix could bolster the San Jose, California-based company’s autonomous analytics platform, which targets consumer industries like retail, restaurants, hospitality, and ecommerce. Through voice and text search and data visualization, Hypersonix provides real-time actionable insights from disparate data sources like regional business performance and website traffic.
Zhejiang, China-based KFBIO, which also received an Intel Capital investment, builds pathology systems such as a scanner that ostensibly improves on traditional microscopes with digital capabilities and connectivity. Using a combination of big data, cloud computing, and AI, the company’s medical image processing tech scans and digitizes images to make them easier to share for remote consultations with experts.
New Intel Capital portfolio company Lilt provides AI-powered language translation software and services. The San Francisco, California-based firm taps machine learning, a translation management system, and professional translators to enable organizations to scale their localization programs and improve their customers’ experiences.
As for Retrace, which recently received a cash infusion from Intel Capital, it applies machine learning to real-time data to improve dental decision-making. The San Francisco startup’s predictive platform aims to reduce the oral disease burden for health plans, providers, and patients by creating a more cost-effective and evidence-based oral healthcare experience.
Other new Intel Capital investments in 2020 include:
- Axonne, which is developing next-generation high-speed Ethernet network connectivity solutions for automobiles.
- MemVerge, which provides petabyte-size pools of shared persistent memory and data services for AI, machine learning, and high-performance computing workloads.
- ProPlus Electronics, an electronic design automation company specializing in device modeling and fast circuit simulation solutions.
- Spectrum Materials, a high-purity gas and material supplier for semiconductor fabricators.
- Xsight Labs, a developer of chipset designs that promise to enhance scalability, performance, and efficiency.
Intel Capital, which launched in 1991, made a total of 1,588 investments prior to today’s announcement, according to Crunchbase data. Its new commitments soberingly come as an estimated 390 startups, including companies like Uber and Airbnb, have laid off over 44,600 employees as a result of pandemic-related economic headwinds. Crunchbase anticipates a “more pronounced” reset in investments as venture firms reassess their existing funding needs.