Intel to acquire Movidius
It is difficult to believe now, but back in 2013 when Atlantic Bridge led the $16M A-round investment in Movidius, many analysts and industry peers did not believe that a new microprocessor company could emerge as a leader in an intensely competitive and mature industry. We were more optimistic, recognising early on the potential disruption the Movidius’ Vision Processing Unit (VPU) technology could bring. We had just led the investment in Metaio GMBH- a leader in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality - and both investments were driven by the same belief, that vision technologies and machine learning /machine intelligence were on the cusp of driving huge market change (Metaio was acquired by Apple in 2015).
Computer Vision was identified as one of the first real commercial opportunities but the fundamental game-changing technology that Movidius had developed enabled Deep Neural Networks and Machine learning applications of all kinds to be performed in real time on battery powered devices. The core platform that Movidius had developed enabled for the first time highly efficient machine intelligence systems to be moved to the edge of the network, improving latency for real-time applications, reducing bandwidth requirements while minimising battery power consumption on the device. The age of distributed intelligence systems had arrived..
Josh Walden Senior VP at Intel and General Manager of the New Technology Group with Remi El-Ouazzane CEO Movidius
The competition was adrift - their DNA was firmly rooted in more traditional algorithms and processor architectures. By comparison the new Vision Processor Unit (VPU) from Movidius could run machine learning tasks with up to one hundred times more compute power for the same battery consumption. This unprecedented performance dazzled customers such as Google, FLIR, and DJI which in turn inspired an additional $60M in investment.
Abven prides itself on being a value added investor and the Movidius story is no exception.
Our relationship with Movidius goes back over 20 years when both founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney joined Parthus Technology - a semiconductor company Brian Long founded in 1993. Shortly after the Nasdaq IPO of Parthus, Sean and David launched Movidius targeting the 3DTV marked with a solution based on a new highly parallel processor architecture. ABVEN did not invest in the 3DTV market but did re-engage with Movidius in early 2013. We led the re-financed A-Round as the company focused its offering around the computational photography and computer vision market. Both Brian Long and Gerry Maguire joined the board from Abven.
We believed that building a Silicon Valley HQ for this early stage Irish company was fundamentally important and Brian immediately began a search for a Valley based CEO. Remi El-Ouazzane was introduced to Brian through close friend and serial entrepreneur Amarjit Gill. Following many meetings and cups of coffee in Palo Alto, Remi was convinced to leave his corporate VP job at Texas Instruments and take the risk as CEO of this fledgling start-up. Remi and founders Sean and David were soon joined by Farshid Sabet and formed an outstanding management team, driving one of the most successful semiconductor start-ups in the last ten years.
Two weeks after Remi joined, Brian met renowned processor architect and serial entrepreneur Dan Dobberphul, again through Amarjit Gill.
Over even more cups of coffee at the Red Rock cafe in Mountain View, Brian explained the Movidius story to Dan and asked if he would consider investing and joining the board. Delighted to be involved again with the “Technology Midas” Amarjit, Dan signed up as requested and some caffeinated Irish charm even got Dan over the threshold as Chairman of the board. Three weeks later Dan was totally absorbed in Movidius, reviewing architectures, attending design reviews and deeply engrossed in every aspect of the company including design. It would have been virtually impossible to have wed ourselves to a more engaged and cooler chairman than Dan.
In 2015 we introduced our joint venture China-Ireland Fund (Summit Bridge) to Movidius. They led the company's B-round with our partner David Lam joining the board. Within weeks David helped introduce the company to many Chinese customers resulting in major contracts for Movidius with companies such as DJI. This relationship resulted in the first consumer drone (Phantom 4) with vision-based collision avoidance being launched.
The Movidius MA2150 chip
Atlantic Bridge continues to invest in disruptive technologies, helping to develop companies such as Movidius and Metaio. We believe that the era of artificial intelligence and machine-learning is just beginning. Enabling machines to emulate the learning ability of the human brain will drive the next generation of computing and intelligent devices. We are proud of the important contribution that Movidius has made in this evolution and are confident it will make an even bigger contribution in the future with the backing of Intel Corporation.