An inside look, part one
Over the next few months or two, after SEC approval, IonQ, Inc. will make history. It will become the first pure-play quantum computing stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its ticker symbol will be “IONQ”.
IonQ sponsored a virtual symposium on April 13 for key analysts in the investment community ahead of the SEC approval. The goal was to give investors a better understanding of quantum computing, the potential of IonQ, and the technological and business differentiators of IonQ. Although Moor Insights & Strategy is a technology industry analyst versus a financial analyst firm, we regularly see financial events because they are often the best source of truth.
This summary is the first of two parts. It contains information on IonQ’s management structure, funding history and business strategy. The second part will contain the technical information and the architectural strategy of IonQ presented during the event and will be published in two weeks.
The IonQ management team
IonQ was founded in 2015 by Drs. Christopher Monroe and Jungsang Kim, who have spent more than four decades together researching quantum physics. When the company was founded, Monroe led the University of Maryland’s quantum group and Kim led Duke University’s quantum efforts. Today, Monroe is the Chief Scientist of IonQ and Kim is the Technical Director.
Peter Chapman, President and CEO of IonQ, joined IonQ two years ago from Amazon. He was one of two administrators who oversaw Amazon Prime technology. Prior to Amazon, Chapman ran an IT company for seven years owned by futurist Ray Kurzweil, currently Google’s chief engineering officer.
Dave Bacon, vice president of software for IonQ, joined the company in October 2020. Bacon was from Google, where he was part of the team that achieved quantum supremacy. Quantum supremacy means demonstrating that a quantum computer performed computational tasks faster on a quantum processor than on a conventional processor. Bacon is the co-developer of the Bacon-Shor code for error correction, which reduces the effects of noise in quantum computing. He holds a doctorate in physics from UC Berkeley.
A scalable error correction solution is essential for the future of the quantum computing industry. This is perhaps the main hurdle IonQ must overcome to build a large-scale, commercially applicable computer. Bacon’s expertise and understanding of correcting mistakes is invaluable to IonQ in achieving his long-term plans.
Based on feedback from event attendees, it was obvious to them that IonQ has a strong team of business and technical leaders with the expertise to achieve its goals.
How the Monroe-Kim partnership created the IonQ architecture
Trapped ion computing had its real beginnings in the early 1990s, according to Chris Monroe, when he worked at the US government’s Advanced Atomic Clock Laboratory. At the time, Monroe was experimenting with quantum entanglement to improve the performance of the atomic clock.
“We were building little quantum computers before we knew they were quantum computers,” he said. “The peloton fell in our towers in the mid-90s. We performed the very first quantum operation on any physical platform. It turns out that they are trapped ions because it was the most mature technology for atomic clocks at the time.
Over the next twenty years, with their complementary interests in trapped ions, Monroe and Jungsang Kim formed a close working relationship. Kim approached the trapped ion system with an orderly engineering approach that made it possible to build a scalable system. Monroe was concerned with better understanding the fundamental aspects of quantum gates when more ions are added.
“We perfected the doors,” said Monroe. “And we start to build systems. Around 2010, we started producing high level quantum architecture plans and we also wrote several articles. ”
The research papers caught the government’s attention with large grants. According to Monroe, “We have received more than $ 160 million in grants from the federal government, primarily the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and the National Science Foundation, to build and refine an ion-based quantum computing system. trapped. High-level architectural papers began to become less about physics and science than about product engineering. ”
In late 2014, the late Harry Weller, one of New Enterprise Associates (NEA) principal venture capitalists and passionate about physics, read several research articles by Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim. Again, newspapers served as fundraising magnets. To Weller, the research papers look a lot like a viable business plan. In 2015, the NEA agreed to provide scientists with $ 2 million in seed money, and IonQ was born.
In early 2017, IonQ raised an additional $ 20 million from GV, Amazon Web Services, and NEA. Two years later, under the leadership of its new CEO and Chairman, Peter Chapman, IonQ has raised an additional $ 55 million from investors including Samsung Electronics, Lockheed Martin, Airbus Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), Hewlett Packard and Mubadala Capital.
Later in 2019, Chapman engineered another milestone for the business, making IonQ computing accessible through the cloud by building relationships with Microsoft Azure and AWS Braket. IonQ remains the only quantum system available on the AWS Microsoft Azure and Amazon clouds.
Since its creation, IonQ’s management has been efficient and measured in its use of investor funds. IonQ has created six generations of trapped ion quantum computers since its inception, using only $ 52 million of the $ 84 million raised from private investors to date.
The new IonQ card
The board includes the leaders of IonQ, Peter Chapman and Jungsang Kim, as well as four representatives from its long list of high quality investors.
Ron Bernal and Blake Byers are longtime directors representing two of IonQ’s early major investors. Bernal is a venture capital partner at NEA, which provided IonQ with its first seed funding in 2015. Byers was until recently a general partner of GV, formerly Google Ventures, and has served on the board since the series A from IonQ.
Three new members will be added to the board later this year:
- Harry You and Niccolo de Masi: Executives of dMY Technology Group III, the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) that facilitated a merger with IonQ to become a publicly traded company on the NYSE.
- Craig Barratt: Independent Board Member. Craig sits on the boards of Atmosic, Calysta, and Intuitive Surgical, and previously held executive positions in various high-impact hardware and systems companies including Intel, Google, Barefoot Networks and Atheros.
IonQ’s advisory board also includes several highly qualified and well-known experts in quantum computing and related technologies, including Nobel Laureate David Wineland.
IonQ has developed its business plan around four different revenue streams: hardware sales, cloud revenue, direct access with technical support, and partnerships focused on co-development of quantum applications. Its target markets are university, government and corporate businesses.
- IonQ has a strong management team that includes pioneers and authorities in trapped ion technology and error correction.
- There are marketing and funding advantages to being the first quantum company listed on the NYSE. IonQ has already proven that it can do a lot with moderate funding by building six generations of quantum computers and only using $ 52 million of the $ 84 million from seed funding.
- Although the technical information is not included in the first part, IonQ has a robust and complex architectural and material strategy. With the public offering, he will have no problem with financing or executing this strategy.
- While there have been plenty of quantum computing investment funds this year, I expect to see more deals that are significant for some companies, with investors rushing in before the public offerings are announced.
- IonQ’s long-term outlook is excellent.
Note: The editors and editors of Moor Insights & Strategy may have contributed to this article.
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