Over the past decade, or so, the US 'big-tech' firms have 'filled their boots' acquiring numerous UK start-ups in the AI/ML space... in reverse chronological order, here are a select few:

- Oracle acquired Grapeshot (2018)

- Twitter acquired Magic Pony (2016)

- Microsoft acquired SwiftKey (2016)

- Apple acquired VocalIQ (2015)

- Google acquired DeepMind (2014)

- Amazon acquired Evi (2012)

It's quite a roll-call, but - in my humble opinion - the exit of WaveOptics to Snap Inc (for +$500M) last week is hugely impressive on many other levels.

Whilst all of the above are software companies, WaveOptics make hardware: wave guides (lenses) for augmented reality (AR) glasses. 

Building a start-up supplying components in the consumer electronics industry is 'not for the faint hearted'.

You're competing with companies with massive scale and a supply chain (whether it be contract manufacturers or material suppliers) who all gravitate to the 'big guys'.

It's proper 'David v Goliath' stuff (no pun intended!).

There is a long list of Silicon Valley companies - with huge VC backing - which have tried and failed in this sector. So for Oxford-based WaveOptics to achieve this outcome - essentially in a five-year period - is remarkable. 

Respect to the management team, founders, board and investors: you know who you are ;-)... also, congratulations to Snap... you just acquired a serious amount of IP.