Google has slowly been pulling back the curtain on homegrown silicon that could define the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Some key creators of that project — the Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU — recently left to team up with Chamath Palihapitiya, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent and outspoken young venture investors, on a stealth start-up.
Groq Inc. is the name of the company, at least for the time being.
There are no promotional materials or website. All that exists online are a couple SEC filings from October and December showing that the company raised $10.3 million, and an incorporation filing in the state of Delaware on Sept. 12.
“We’re really excited about Groq,” Palihapitiya wrote in an e-mail. “It’s too early to talk specifics, but we think what they’re building could become a fundamental building block for the next generation of computing.”
Groq names three principals in the SEC documents: Jonathan Ross, who helped invent the TPU, Douglas Wightman, an entrepreneur and former engineer at the Google X “moonshot factory” and Palihapitiya, founder of investment firm Social Capital. The listed address is Social Capital’s headquarters.
Palihapitiya told CNBC last month that he invested in a team of ex-Googlers who helped build the chip, which he first heard about on an earnings call 2 ½ years ago.
“They randomly mentioned that they built their own chip for AI and I thought, ‘what is going on here, why is Google competing with Intel?'” Palihapitiya said in an interview on “Squawk Box.”
All start-ups are hard, but a new chip company is something most venture capitalists won’t touch. The research and development costs required to get a working prototype can be exorbitant. Then there’s manufacturing and the Herculean challenge of finding device makers to take a chance on unproven technology.
Read the source article at CNBC.com.(http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/20/ex-googlers-left-secretive-ai-unit-to-form-groq-with-palihapitiya.html)