Eric Schmidt, a venture fund founded by Google’s parent company, Alphabet’s former chairman, and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, are among a group of investors backing Sandbox AQ, a new independent quantum business that was previously part of Alphabet’s company. was embedded within.
Sandbox AQ CEO Jack Hidari declined to disclose the exact amount of money the business raised, but says it is “well in the nine figures.” The funds will be used to add more skilled employees to the company’s 55-person team and to fund research and development.
According to Schmidt, sandbox AQ—A stands for AI and Q stands for Quantum—is a game plan that involves using machine learning and AI to develop software to generate short-term revenue that captures data from cyberattacks involving quantum computers. , which taps into some of the almost-mysterious properties of quantum physics to generate processing power that can surpass even the most powerful supercomputers. The company will also pursue long-term research in areas such as quantum sensors, which could potentially be used as navigation aids for trucks, ships and aircraft.
cryptographic breaking point
Quantum computers are in their infancy and their researchers still grapple with significant engineering and other challenges, but some companies and governments are already preparing their data and networks for the day when those obstacles are overcome. Will be done. “At some point in the future, it should be possible to break [conventionally] Encrypted data,” says Schmidt. “It’s a big, big deal.”
Many other companies, including corporate giants like IBM and startups like Isara and QSecure, already offer “quantum safe” algorithms that can run on existing computers, so Sandbox AQ will play into an increasingly competitive field. In addition to its financial backers, Joe Schmidt and Benioff’s Time Ventures, T. Roe Price, Breyer Capital, Guggenheim Partners and billionaire investor Thomas Tull are betting that its experience building security for Google will help it stand out.
Neither Google nor Alphabet are investors in the new company, but they will still have a business relationship. Sandbox AQ will work in conjunction with Google Cloud to help provide quantum-secure cryptography to the Cloud Computing Group’s customers, but will not be an exclusive arrangement. “The world is multicloud and someone has to recognize it,” Hidri explains.
Sandbox AQ has already signed up a number of customers, including Mount Sinai Health System in the US and Japan’s SoftBank, which plan to test quantum-secure algorithms on their 4G, 5G and WiFi networks later this year. Used to be. in emailed comments Forbes, Ryuji Wakikawa, head of SoftBank’s advanced technology division, says it intends to verify the software’s impact on network performance and expects its adoption to “realize the ultra-secure communications needed in the coming 6G era.” would be a big step towards
A quantum compass?
Revenue from such deals will help support the long-term research that Sandbox AQ is planning. Onboard quantum sensors could be valuable to ships and submarines, which find themselves cut off from other sources of location data, such as GPS systems. There has been a lot of discussion lately about creating a backup for GPS, which is potentially vulnerable to cyber and physical attacks. Other companies have already begun trials to test the idea of a quantum “compass,” but Hidari cautioned: “While quantum sensing is R&D, it’s not ready for market today.”
Several quantum businesses have already entered the public market, including IonQ with a $2.7 billion market cap and Rigetti Computing, which has a market cap of $758 million. Could Sandbox AQ be tempted to follow them in an IPO in the near future? Schmidt dismissed that scenario, saying he and his other financial backers are investing in the company for the long term. “I’ve taken four companies public and I’m in no rush to do a fifth.”