Intel puts cash behind WiFi-first smartmobes
After almost 35 years and 1,400 investments, Intel’s investment chief says farewell.
Intel Capital just announced they are investing $22 million in 11 different startups, and that the venture capital arm of the tech company is on track to invest $500 million in startups this year. Intel Capital, which is set to surpass out a half-billion dollars of investment through the end of the year, said that Tuesday’s announcements brought its total investments in Israel to $300 million.SAN DIEGO, California — Back in the 1980s, when Arvind Sodhani first approached his boss, then-CEO Andy Grove, about using Intel’s cash to invest in other tech companies, Grove’s reaction was typical of his fiery personality. SAN DIEGO – Intel Capital on Tuesday announced 11 new portfolio companies, including two Israeli companies, at the chipmaker’s venture capital fund’s global summit.
Intel invests to advance its own strategic interests, but it pours so much money into the tech ecosystem on a global basis that it has a huge impact on the overall tech economy. The company made its announcement at the 16th annual Intel Capital Global Summit, which is expected to draw more than 1,200 people to San Diego, California. Some of the companies that received funding rounds include FreedomPop, which offers free mobile phone and data plans, Perfant Technology, which manufacturers panoramic cameras, what3words, which creates address and geolocation services for remote areas, and KMLabs, which makes advanced laser technology. The company builds for G.Fast modems, which allows telecommunication companies to send huge amounts of data over existing infrastructure. “At SCKipio we are counting on having billions of devices out there, because what we do is connect those devices to the cloud, to the network,” said SCKipio CEO David Baum.
As a point of comparison, during the same event last year, Intel announced $67 million of investments in 16 startups, but said that 2014 investments totaled $359 million. The event also included product demos from companies already in Intel’s portfolio, such as Avogy’s batteries that simultaneously charge laptops and phones, and a Braille printer from Braigo Labs (which was founded by a 13-year-old). I’m very proud of that.” Sodhani started investing at Intel decades ago, and he has led the Intel Capital group since 2005, and he has put nearly 35 years in altogether at Intel.
Today’s investments cover a range of companies running from later stages in larger and more established startups through to newer companies and emerging technologies, and come from five countries: China, Israel, Taiwan, the UK, and the U.S. The latest Intel funding recipients range from wireless charging firm Chargifi to Body Labs, which is creating new ways to digitally model the human body. It hopes to deliver fiber-optic speeds for broadband access over existing wires such as copper phone lines. “Sckipio and Intel have been working closely together since the beginning of the G.fast market and jointly announced the first G.fast residential gateway reference design in the fall of 2014,” said Dan Artusi, Intel vice president and general manager of its Connected Home Division, in a statement. “This strategic investment is another milestone for the Intel Connected Home Division and Sckipio to deliver fiber-like speeds to the people on existing copper infrastructure.” “Sckipio continued to deliver many industry firsts,” said David Baum, cofounder and CEO of Sckipio Technologies, in a statement. “With the investment from Intel Capital, Sckipio will increase technology investments to accelerate our innovations in the broadband access market.” Sckipio has received three rounds of funding. FreedomPop, a provider of “free” wireless voice and data services that makes its money on value-added options like voicemail, extra data allowances and so on.
We are now the top tech VC in the world.” Intel’s strategic investment and acquisition group has invested $11.6 billion since 1991 in 1,400 companies in 57 countries. This is a strategic investment for FreedomPop, which plans to use the money to build out a new broadband service that will rival Google Project Fi — specifically, it will use Intel’s new SoFIA platform to launch a WiFi-based smartphone with free mobile services. LISNR, maker of Smart Tones, a “protocol that sends data over audio using a high-frequency, inaudible technology” that turns speakers and other media into beacons. The investments have a wide range and include Internet of Things, virtual reality, drones, cloud computing, and data center technology. “I said to Andy that we can’t do all of the R&D for the PC ourselves,” Sodhani said. “We need fellow travelers. Perfant Technology, out of China, develops imaging and video technologies for artificial intelligence, machine vision, 3-D reconstruction and virtual reality.
Chargifi is a wireless charging network, billed as “power as a platform.” It offers this in a series of “Chargifi Spots” across public locations. KMLabs, a maker of laser systems for research and industrial applications, including multi-photon imaging, spectroscopy, OCT, THz-generation, CEP, micro-machining and attosecond, coherent soft X-Ray and EUV pulse generation as well as a “tabletop x-ray laser” light source. The company has created a platform to find and communicate a location more accurately and more easily than global positioning system (GPS) technology. Perfant’s new panoramic camera, Eyesir, is being targeted at tourism, aviation, virtual reality, smart homes, real estate, media, weddings, sports, and various events.
This startup is a 3D advanced battery provider that promises “transformational performance” at a competitive cost using nontoxic materials with customizable shapes. With offices in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, the company was founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs with backgrounds in distributed computing, system programming, machine learning, and statistics.
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