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.
Snap acquires AR startup WaveOptics, which provides tech for Spectacles, for over $500M