Expands Board of Directors with Appointments of M12’s Samir Kumar and SpaceX’s Bret Johnsen
Irvine, Calif., October 24, 2018 – Syntiant Corp., an artificial intelligence semiconductor company that is creating an entirely new class of ultra-low-power, high-performance, deep neural network processors for edge computing, today announced it has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by M12, Microsoft Corp.’s venture fund. Other strategic investors that participated in the raise include the Amazon Alexa Fund, Applied Ventures, Intel Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Robert Bosch Venture Capital.
Syntiant also announced the expansion of its board to five members with the appointments of Samir Kumar, managing director of M12, and Bret Johnsen, CFO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), who will serve as an independent director.
“We are both humbled and excited to be supported by several of the world’s greatest technology companies,” said Kurt Busch, CEO of Syntiant. “With participation from existing and new investors, and deeper guidance from our expanded board with the additions of Samir Kumar and Bret Johnsen, we will be able to commercialize Syntiant’s neural network technology for battery-powered devices to truly enable pervasive artificial intelligence.”
“Syntiant’s architecture is well suited for the computational patterns and inherent parallelism of deep neural networks,” said Kumar. “We see great potential in its ability to enable breakthroughs in power performance for AI processing in IoT [Internet of things].”
"Machine learning at the edge is the new frontier for custom semiconductors," said Dave Flanagan, vice president of Intel Corp. and group managing director of Intel Capital. “We are enthusiastic with the progress Syntiant has made since we led its Series A round last year. We look forward to working closely with the impressive line-up of Series B corporate investors to help further grow the company.”
Syntiant is developing semiconductor solutions designed from the ground up for deep learning inference. Without the constraints of legacy processor architectures, Syntiant’s neural decision processors (NDPs) use an analog neural network that can offer orders of magnitude lower power by extreme memory efficiency along with massively parallel computation with modest precision. Ideally suited for applications as small as hearing aids and IoT, to as large as smart speakers and mobile phones, Syntiant enables always-on deep learning inference in battery-powered devices.
“Syntiant’s technology is unrivaled by any other player in the AI hardware acceleration sector for the consumer industry, enabling always-on inference for voice/sound and image/video applications on the edge,” said Luis Llovera, managing director at Robert Bosch Venture Capital. “The technology is strategically relevant for a variety of Bosch products, in particular for consumer sensor applications.”
Earlier this month at Infineon’s OktoberTech 2018, Syntiant demonstrated a prototype NDP that can simultaneously support dozens of application-defined audio and keyword classifications, enabling developers to create custom, always-on speech user interfaces. Optimized for audio data rates, the processor is capable of speaker identification, audio event detection and environment classification, and sensor analytics.
“Syntiant aligns perfectly with our mission to support companies that fuel voice technology innovation,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund at Amazon. “Its technology has enormous potential to drive continued adoption of voice services like Alexa, especially in mobile scenarios that require devices to balance low power with continuous, high-accuracy voice recognition. We look forward to working with Syntiant to extend its speech technology to new devices and environments.”
“Syntiant’s neural network technology and its memory-centric architecture fits well with Applied Materials’ core expertise in materials engineering as we enable radical leaps in device performance and novel materials-enabled memory technologies,” said Michael Stewart, principal at Applied Ventures, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, Inc.
“Syntiant’s ultra-low-power neural decision processors have the potential to create growth in the chip marketplace and provide an effective solution for today’s demanding voice and video applications.”
“Syntiant brings exciting possibilities to our communications, workflow applications and video technology for users in public safety and industry,” said Paul Steinberg, chief technology officer, Motorola Solutions. “With many of our users working in the field, often in dangerous or demanding situations, Syntiant’s deep learning capabilities are well-suited for resource-constrained edge devices that can help our customers – from police officers to oil rig workers – work safely and efficiently.”
Kumar and Johnsen join Syntiant’s current board of directors comprised of Sunil Sanghavi, senior director, Intel Capital; and Kurt Busch and Jeremy Holleman, CEO and CTO, Syntiant, respectively.
Kumar leads investment activities in key frontier technology areas, such as AI, quantum computing and autonomous vehicles. Previously, he served as senior director for business development and product management in Qualcomm’s corporate R&D division. In that role, Kumar led early stage product validation, partnerships, acquisitions and strategy for embedded/on-device deep learning. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.
Johnsen brings more than 20 years of financial leadership experience, and currently serves as CFO of SpaceX. Prior to SpaceX, he spent nearly a decade at Broadcom Corporation and played a key role in helping transform the organization into a leading Fortune 500 technology company. Previously, Johnsen served as senior vice president and CFO for Mindspeed Technologies, now MACOM Technology Solutions Inc., a leading supplier of semiconductor solutions. He is a CPA and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Science degree in finance from San Diego State University.
Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Syntiant Corp. is moving artificial intelligence and machine learning from the cloud to edge devices. A member company of EvoNexus, Southern California's leading startup technology incubator, Syntiant’s advanced chip solutions merge deep learning with semiconductor design to produce highly efficient ultra-low-power neural computation for always-on applications in battery powered devices. More information can be found on www.syntiant.com or follow the company on Twitter @Syntiantcorp.
M12, formerly Microsoft Ventures, is the corporate venture arm of Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft), the leader of digital transformation in the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. M12 partners with visionary entrepreneurs looking to drive digital transformation. As part of its promise to portfolio companies, M12 offers unrivaled access to go-to-market resources and strategic relationships globally. M12 currently operates in London, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Tel Aviv. Visit https://m12.vc/ or follow @M12vc to learn more.
About The Alexa Fund The Alexa Fund fuels voice technology innovation by providing startups with venture capital funding and access to a variety of resources, including early access to SDK capabilities, hands-on development support, enhanced marketing on Amazon.com, and more. Since its launch in 2015, the Alexa Fund has invested in more than 50 companies and launched programs like the Alexa Fellowship and Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. To learn more about working with the Alexa Fund, visit https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-fund.
About Applied Ventures Applied Ventures, LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, invests in early-stage technology companies that promise to deliver high growth and exceptional returns. Our investments help develop technologies and markets that provide natural extensions to Applied Materials’ core business and stimulate the growth of applications for semiconductors, displays, and related products and services. Learn more at www.appliedventures.com.
About Intel Capital Intel Capital invests in innovative startups targeting artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, datacenter and cloud, 5G connectivity, next-generation compute and a wide range of other disruptive technologies. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested US $12.3 billion in over 1,530 companies worldwide, and more than 660 portfolio companies have gone public or been acquired. Intel Capital curates thousands of business development introductions each year between its portfolio companies and the Global 2000. For more information on what makes Intel Capital one of the world’s most powerful venture capital firms, visit www.intelcapital.com or follow @Intelcapital. About Motorola Solutions Venture Capital Motorola Solutions Venture Capital makes strategic investments and partners with portfolio companies to advance technologies as well as expand and build new mission-critical solutions and markets. Current areas of focus include next-generation communications, workflow solutions at the edge, UI/UX, data analytics and artificial intelligence. Our investments are strategy-driven and growth-oriented, and we invest in compelling venture-backed companies that align with our vision for improving safety and efficiency for our customers. Learn more on our website.
About RBVC GmbH Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) is the corporate venture capital company of the Bosch Group, a leading global supplier of technology and services. RBVC invests worldwide in innovative start-up companies at all stages of their development. Its investment activities focus on technology companies working in areas of business of current and future relevance for Bosch, above all, automation and electrification, energy efficiency, enabling technologies, and healthcare systems. RBVC also invests in services and business models that are relevant to the above-mentioned areas of business. Additional information is available at www.rbvc.com.
George Medici/Evan Pondel