Much of the world’s technology press has been dominated by the news of Open AI and its chatbot named chatGPT and Dall-E 2, which generates images for those who haven’t tried the AI bot. It is a revolution. We kids who grew up with primitive chatbots had to contend with Eliza and Microsoft’s Clippy. You might not know about the selective investments made by Sam Altman, the founder of Open AI in the quantum technology space. We list investments made via a corporate entity such as Open AI or himself in the Quantum Computing area.
In 2017, Altman invested in Rigetti Computing, a startup that develops quantum computing hardware and software. Founded by Chad Rigetti, the founder, has recently departed the company, which continues to trade under his name. But recently the markets have not been kind to Rigetti with a threat of delisting from the NASDAQ as its share price hovers around the $1 mark, down from an all-time high of just under $12.
Altman’s investment in Rigetti was part of a $40 million funding round that included other notable investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator. The investment was aimed at helping Rigetti to accelerate its efforts to build and commercialize quantum computing technology.
At the time of the investment, Altman stated that he believed Rigetti had the potential to be a leader in the emerging field of quantum computing. He also expressed excitement about the possibility of quantum computing to solve previously unsolvable problems in areas such as drug discovery and materials science. Rigetti is exploring the same superconducting technology that IBM has pioneered, with IBM recently executing its roadmap to bring more significant numbers of qubits to the mainstream.
Altman was a part of Atom Computing’s $15 million Series A funding round in 2020. Atom Computing is developing a neutral-atom-based quantum computing platform that could be more stable and reliable than other quantum computing technologies. This technology differs from trapped ions from companies such as IonQ and Universal Quantum.
Sam Altman participated in Xanadu’s $32 million Series A funding round in 2019. Xanadu has been featured in our article: 5 companies doing amazing things with light. Xanadu is a quantum company developing a photonic quantum computer that uses light instead of atoms or ions to perform quantum operations. Xanadu is a full-stack quantum computing with interests that range from languages to hardware to applications to frameworks. We have written extensively on offerings from Xanadu, such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.
In 2019, Altman led a $25 million funding round for PsiQuantum, a company developing photonic-based quantum computing technology.
Sam Altman led a $25 million funding round for PsiQuantum in 2019. PsiQuantum is a company that is developing photonic-based quantum computing technology. Photonic-based quantum computing is an alternative approach to building quantum computers that use photons (particles of light) to represent quantum bits (qubits) instead of the more traditional system that uses atoms or other subatomic particles. PsiQuantum has continued to grow in funding and has achieved claim for the sheer amount of VC funding it has received.
Altman was potentially attracted to PsiQuantum because of the company’s focus on solving practical problems with quantum computing. PsiQuantum’s approach to building a functional quantum computer involves using silicon photonics to create integrated circuits to perform quantum operations. This approach can be more scalable and less error-prone than other approaches to building quantum computers.
In 2020, Altman invested in Quantum Motion, a UK-based startup developing software for quantum computers. Altman participated in Quantum Motion’s seed funding round in 2020, which raised £3.6 million ($4.8 million). It recently achieved funding of £42m, making it one of the standouts in the UK quantum space.
Quantum Motion is focused on developing software that can optimize the performance of quantum computers. Specifically, the company is developing algorithms that can control the complex and delicate interactions between quantum bits or qubits, which are the basic building blocks of quantum computers.
Cambridge Quantum Computing (now Quantinuum)
Altman has also invested in Cambridge Quantum Computing, a company that develops quantum computing software and algorithms. In October 2020, CQC announced that it had raised $45 million in a funding round led by Honeywell Ventures and engaged in partnerships with IBM and Cambridge University. Altman was among the investors who participated in the funding round, although the specific amount of his investment is unknown.
CQC is one of the largest Quantum Computing companies dedicated to the field and has on staff a range of eminent academics such as Bob Coeke, who is putting QML or, more specifically, QNLP (Quantum Natural Language Processing) on the map. It also has developed its quantum language named tket. But that’s not all, the company has made inroads into many quantum computing applications, including security.
Altman is an investor in Zapata Computing, which provides quantum software and algorithm development tools.
Altman participated in Zapata’s $21 million Series A funding round in 2018, which was led by Pillar VC and included participation from other investors such as Comcast Ventures, Prelude Ventures, and The Engine. Altman’s investment in Zapata is consistent with his interest in supporting cutting-edge technology startups that have the potential to make a significant impact in their respective industries.
Zapata’s quantum software platform, Orquestra, enables researchers to design, execute, and analyze quantum computing experiments from a single platform. The company also provides quantum algorithm libraries and consulting services to help businesses explore the potential applications of quantum computing.
Sam Altman first invested in QC Ware in November 2017 as part of the company’s seed funding round.
Amount of Investment: Altman’s investment in QC Ware has not been publicly disclosed. However, the company’s seed funding round raised $1.5 million, with participation from a group of investors, including Sierra Ventures, Boost VC, and SineWave Ventures. In September 2020, QC Ware announced that it had raised an additional $7.5 million in a funding round led by the lead investor, Battery Ventures, with participation from new investors, including A&E Investments and existing investors, D.E. Shaw Ventures and Altman’s startup accelerator, OpenAI.
Sam Altman invested through the investment fund, OpenAI LP. OpenAI was among several co-investors in IonQ’s Series B funding round, led by the venture capital firms NEA and GV (formerly Google Ventures). Other investors in the round included Samsung NEXT and Mubadala Investment Company.
IonQ is an American Maryland-based startup developing quantum computers based on trapped ion technology. The company was founded in 2015 by Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim, both experts in quantum information science. IonQ’s quantum computers use individual atoms trapped in electromagnetic fields to perform quantum computations, which are more powerful and efficient than classical computations. IonQ is now listed on the American Stock exchange and did this via a SPAC merger.
Possible float of Open AI
The investment of $10 billion into Open AI from the likes of Microsoft has potentially set the course of Open AI towards an eventual float. That means the company might be poised to be one of the best with a diverse portfolio of Quantum technology investments.