How much are Nvidia’s rivals investing in startups? We investigated

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Over the previous couple of years, Nvidia, by far the biggest AI chipmaker, has ramped up its investments in startups that propel it deeper into the AI house. According to S&P International and Crunchbase, the funding and funding database, Nvidia’s startup investments jumped 280% year-over-year from 2022 to 2023, with the corporate and its VC arm, Nvidia Ventures, taking part in ~46 offers final 12 months.

It’s not the one one. Nvidia’s chief rivals within the AI chip house — AMD, Arm and Intel — have been investing aggressively in startups, too, seeking to make up floor in markets inclusive of the particularly frothy generative AI section.

We at TechCrunch have been curious to see how the investments stacked up between the highest AI chipmakers — Nvidia, AMD, Arm and Intel. So we pored over Crunchbase information, with an eye fixed towards latest exercise from every chipmaker and their VC divisions.


Of Nvidia’s rivals, Intel far and away has the largest startup funding operation due to Intel Capital, its long-running VC. In 2023, Intel Capital deployed over $350 million throughout its investments, together with OpenAI rival AI21 Labs, threat-hunting platform Twelve Labs, app supply community and office security outfit TuMeke.

Crunchbase information isn’t exhaustive. Nevertheless it reveals that Intel Capital participated in 32 startup offers in 2023, down from 47 in 2022. Intel additionally straight invested in 4 startups final 12 months (GenAI vendor Aleph Alpha and Hugging Face amongst them) and one (Vanguard Semiconductor) in 2022, per Crunchbase — bringing its grand complete deal depend to 36 in 2023 and 48 in 2022.

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Curiously, AI startups — regardless of their strategic significance to the chip business as of late — make up a comparatively small portion of Intel’s enterprise portfolio. In keeping with Crunchbase, Intel’s holdings in software program, IT and enterprise SaaS firms far outnumber its AI startup holdings by deal quantity.

That might change as Intel seeks to ship new software program services and products, together with GenAI-powered merchandise, that make its {hardware} extra engaging for a variety of AI purposes. Simply in January, Intel spun out an organization, Articul8 AI, to construct GenAI options working on Intel chips for enterprises within the aerospace, monetary providers, telecommunications and semiconductor industries.


Arm won’t be a very energetic startup investor in comparison with Intel. However the firm, which makes most of its cash licensing chipsets it designs to clients, has a number of direct funding offers in addition to offers via Deeptech Labs, a VC fund and accelerator that Arm co-launched with the College of Cambridge, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Martlet Capital.

Final 12 months, Arm made 4 direct investments in startups — microprocessor enterprise SiPearl, eSIM safety firm Kigen and Raspberry Pi and the Raspberry Pi Basis — and 6 investments via Deeptech Labs. Beneficiaries of the Deeptech Labs money included Nu Quantum, a quantum networking startup; RoboK, which is constructing 3D sensing tech; and Perceptual Robotics, a supplier of automated wind turbine inspection tech.

Altogether, then, Arm poured cash into 10 startups in 2023. That’s a big uptick from 2022, when Arm invested in simply 4 firms — a direct funding within the open supply {hardware} startup Arduino and three investments via Deeptech Labs (Waku Robotics, Xapien and SonicEdge).

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One presumes Arm’s future investments will rope in AI in a extra apparent means, provided that the corporate’s betting on gross sales of each its information middle and shopper AI chips to steeply enhance this 12 months.


Like Intel and Arm, AMD invests in startups each straight and thru a VC org, AMD Ventures. However for AMD, the offers come few and much between.

Final 12 months, AMD Ventures made a single funding, taking part within the Sequence A for Ethernovia, a startup constructing a household of ethernet chips and software program. The 12 months earlier than, AMD Ventures invested in Radian Arc, an infrastructure-as-a-service platform for cloud gaming and AI — and no different firms.

AMD’s direct offers outnumbered its company VC offers, unusually — a minimum of in 2023. That 12 months, AMD invested in Important AI, which appears to pioneer AI-powered software program automation tech; Moreh, an organization creating instruments to optimize AI fashions; and Hugging Face (alongside Intel and Nvidia).

Factoring in direct investments, AMD’s deal complete in 2023 got here to 4 — on the conservative aspect in comparison with rivals. However 2024 might look a bit totally different. Contacted for remark, AMD had this to share from Mathew Hein, the corporate’s chief technique officer of company growth:

AMD Ventures has ramped up its funding exercise previously 12 months and is seeking to speed up additional in 2024, concentrating on reaching a double-digit funding degree. We make investments throughout levels, supporting promising early startups poised to turn out to be market leaders, in addition to mature later stage firms. Most of our new investments in 2024 will probably be concentrating on the AI ecosystem, together with AI platforms, generative mannequin firms and AI infrastructure choices.

2024 will probably be a pivotal 12 months for AMD in different respects. The corporate’s ramping up manufacturing of its MI300 AI chip, which is designed to deal with AI workloads in information facilities, and launching Ryzen 8040, its cell AI-accelerated processors sure for laptops.

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By the numbers

So it’s true: Nvidia isn’t the one chipmaker investing in early ventures. Nevertheless it does seem like outgunning the competitors. Within the first three quarters of 2023 alone, Nvidia funneled practically a billion {dollars} to “non-affiliated” companies, per the sooner S&P International report — a determine even Intel Capital struggled to match.

Success within the AI chipmaking house needn’t entail fostering a sturdy startup ecosystem. Nevertheless it’s clear that Nvidia, one of many world’s most respected firms with management of about 95% of the marketplace for AI chips, is enjoying for retains — trying to shore up dominance by spreading its monetary affect far and large.

I’d say its rivals have their work reduce out for them.

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