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2 Quantum Computing Companies That Are Not D-Wave

Based on a recent analysis of our most popular articles, investors seem to have a strong interest in quantum computing. The problem for investors is that there aren’t any pure play opportunities to invest in quantum computing at the moment. The main reason for this is that there aren’t many companies working on quantum computing. In fact, there’s just one company right now that’s actually selling a quantum computer; Canadian based startup D-Wave.

D-Wave has actually released a controversial “quantum computer”, and is working with big names like Google, NASA, and Lockheed. D-Wave received some major credibility recently when Google announced that they solved an optimization problem in seconds that would normally take 10,000 years with a conventional computer. There is one way to get exposure to D-Wave, but it’s hardly a pure-play and doesn’t seem overly promising. While there are very few companies other than D-Wave directly involved in quantum computing, we did find two companies that quantum computing investors should keep an eye on.

QXBranch_Logo

The story of QxBranch starts with a private Australian company called Shoal (formerly Aerospace Concepts) which engages in system engineering and software development, primarily with the Australian Department of Defense. In 2014, Shoal teamed up with Lockheed Martin to work on one of two commercially sold quantum systems in the world (the other was sold to Google). As a result of that collaboration, Shoal created a spin-off called QxBranch which will work on developing and testing commercial applications for quantum computing. Lockheed Martin selected Shoal based on their expertise in managing large-scale complex projects and experience designing high-fidelity modeling and simulation using high-performance computing technology. With a very close relationship to D-Wave, QxBranch now sees themselves as the world’s first quantum computing software company. With 20 employees around the world, QxBranch was expected to see a Series A funding round by the end of 2015 which doesn’t appear to have happened.

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Founded in 2013 out of the renowned incubator Y Combinator, Berkeley California based Rigetti Computing has taken in $3 million in funding so far from 17 different investors, all of whom have been willing to commit a relatively small amount of capital to see where this thing goes. Contrast this to D-Wave who has taken in over $120 million in financing from a list of 14 much higher profile investors. The founder, Chad Rigetti, was previously a Technical Lead for 3-D quantum computing at IBM Research and has been building prototype quantum processors for 12 plus years. Mr. Rigetti has put together a top team of quantum computing researchers to develop a fault-tolerant gate-based solid state quantum processor using technology that is said to be highly scalable and low cost. According to an article on TechCrunch, Rigetti’s development work doesn’t even involve the actual quantum aspects of their hardware, but rather they use Ansys simulation software to rapidly test changes without having to build new circuitry with each iteration. Rigetti hopes that their unique approach and pool of top talent will help them develop the world’s fastest computer.

Pundits will often mention Google Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) as a “quantum computing company” but we don’t agree with that label from an investors’ perspective. Yes, Alphabet has not only been working with D-Wave for the past two years, but they are also said to be developing their own quantum computer. Whether or not they are building their own quantum computer, Alphabet does appear to be committed to developing quantum computing as they recently extended their contract with D-Wave for an additional 7 years.

However, industry or segment classification in typically based on a company’s sales. With $66 billion in 2014 sales, revenues from quantum computing would have to be a very large number in order for Alphabet to be considered a “quantum computing company”. Right now, their revenues from quantum computing appear to be zero. Other large companies present a similar situation for investors. Intel recently announced they were committing $50 million to quantum computing R&D. IBM has developed their own quantum computing chip, and most recently has been working on error-correcting techniques for quantum hardware. Similar to Google, neither Intel nor IBM appear to receive any revenues yet from quantum computing and consequently can’t be thought of as “quantum computing companies” in the same way we don’t consider Google to be a “driverless car company” or IBM to be an “artificial intelligence company”.

At the moment, there appears to be just three startups directly involved in quantum computing; D-Wave, QxBranch, and Rigetti Computing.

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  • Duncan Earl

    Qubitekk, Inc. out of San Diego is also working to build a quantum computer. Their approach focuses on a photonic/optical approach. Company has raised a few million so far and is actively looking to close a Series A round in 2016.

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