Intel Capital Invests $62 Million in a Range of Tech Startups

  • 4th Nov 2014

URL: http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2014/11/04/intel-capital-invests-62-million-in-a-range-of-tech-startups/

Intel Capital Invests $62 Million in a Range of Tech Startups

Intel Capital, the global investment arm of Intel Corp., has invested $62 million in 16 tech companies, part of a $355 million investment in startups that the chip giant expects to make this year. For a 17th company, Ossia Inc., the venture arm has warrants for work done that  allow it to invest in the future.

The amount is similar to what Intel Capital has invested for the last two years and reflects Intel’s drive to find and participate in new technology that can help the company sell more chips.

“The lower cost of computing is driving innovation, which disrupts industries and enables things that were previously not viable,” said Intel Capital President Arvind Sodhani at a presentation Tuesday.

This year’s investments span four themes–wearable devices, wireless, microprocessors, and big data and cloud infrastructure, categories that Mr. Sodhani said “will shape the future of the world.”

Founders include a 13-year-old middle school student, Shubham Banerjee, who created a Lego Braille printer after he asked his parents how blind people read and they told him to Google the answer; a semiconductor specialist,  Sundari Mitra, who started her career as a design engineer at Intel in 1988; and a rocket scientist, Ernest Earon, who now specializes in drones.

One of the hottest investment areas for Intel this year has been data analytics. The falling cost of servers and the growing prominence of the open source Big Data software Hadoop, “is changing everything,” Mr. Sodhani said. “It’s impacted the ability of enterprises to analyze data [that] you don’t know what to do with but can’t manage. It has implications for networking and storage—it requires lots of storage. We’re very focused on it and are making lots of investments.”

Intel’s investments include:

  • Avegant Corp., which makes a noise-canceling headset whose headpiece projects video onto the retina by using an array of tiny mirrors that reflect the light;
  • Braigo Labs Inc., which has a prototype Braille printer made out of Legos that the company expects will drop the cost of Braille printers from about $2,000 to less than $500;
  • Eyefluence Inc., which has eye-tracking technology that aims to let people use their eyes to operate wearable devices the way they would use their fingers on a smartphone;
  • AnDAPT Inc., whose technology lets businesses customize how they manage power and sensors;
  • Audyssey Laboratories Inc., which corrects complex acoustical problems to improve sound quality in mobile and headset devices;
  • Incoming Media Inc., a spin-out of NICTA, Australia’s national research lab, that predicts how viewers consume video on mobile devices so the device can deliver more personal experiences;
  • INRIX Inc., which uses data analytics to predict traffic and reduce congestion and pollution and is creating apps for smarter cities;
  • Screenovate Technologies Ltd., which lets smartphone and tablet users wirelessly beam videos and games to their TV screens;
  • NetSpeed Systems Inc., which has more than 50 patents for system-on-chip designs that put active networks on silicon, enabling smaller and more powerful chips that can also be created in less time;
  • Reno Sub-systems Canada Inc., which provides process control technologies for manufacturing next-generation semiconductors to enable the performance improvements and cost reductions predicted by Moore’s law;
  • Gigya Inc., whose technology helps companies turn unknown Web or mobile visitors into customers by registering their information so they can provide personalized experiences while at the same time avoiding privacy issues;
  • PrecisionHawk USA Inc., whose software and drones collect data for agriculture and other industries that is analyzed in the cloud, cutting the cost of using satellites;
  • Stratoscale Ltd., which makes a data center operating system; and
  • Ossia Inc., whose antenna delivers wireless power to mobile devices as far as 30 feet without needing a line of sight.

Still in process is Thundersoft Software Technology Co. Ltd., which provides tools and services to speed product development for Android devices.

Write to Deborah Gage at deborah.gage@wsj.com. Follow her on Twitter at@deborahgage

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