Salesforce Ventures joins quantum tech startup Q-CTRL’s $39m Series B top up

Salesforce Ventures joins quantum tech startup Q-CTRL’s $39m Series B top up

The interior of an IBM quantum computing system (via IBM Research on Flickr)

Salesforce Ventures has this week backed a Series B-1 fundraise of US$27.4 million (AU$38.9 million) for a Sydney-based company working in the rapidly-emerging and complex world of quantum computing.

For Q-CTRL, the Series B top-up takes the total amount raised to more than $74 million, with the funds powering the company’s technological advancements, as well as supporting sales and marketing efforts.

Based in Sydney with international offices in Los Angeles and Berlin, Q-CTRL is a quantum computing startup building infrastructure software, and works with the likes of AI scaleup Advanced Navigation, tech giant IBM, The University of Sydney, and the New South Wales Department of Transport.

For the uninitiated, quantum computing makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information. In a nutshell, these computers are able to solve problems that are too complex for classical computers and are even able to outperform supercomputers.

Some real-world uses for quantum computers include modelling and simulating the behaviour of individual atoms in a molecule, or sort the ideal routes for hundreds of tankers in a global shipping network.

Via subsidiary Black Opal, the firm also provides quantum computing education programs for those looking to understand the field which is tipped to be an $850 billion industry by 2050 according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Beyond improving its technology and marketing capacity, Q-CTRL anticipates growing its team of 80 to approximately 120 this year across its three offices.

In addition to Salesforce Ventures, new investors include Alumni Ventures, ICM Allectus, Mindrock Capital, former General Dynamics vice president Bill Lightfoot, and global rugby legend and Australian business leader John Eales.

Continuing investors include Airbus Ventures, Data Collective, Horizons, Main Sequence Ventures, and Ridgeline Partners.

The announcement comes just a few days after Salesforce Ventures announced it would be axing its Australian venture capital arm - a blow to the local VC sector considering the fund had previously invested in major success stories such as Go1, Airwallex, Culture Amp and more.

In a short statement to Business News Australia, a Salesforce spokesperson said the group would continue to work with the 17 local portfolio companies.

“We will manage our investments from the United States and continue to engage with our 17 portfolio companies and the local startup and venture capital ecosystem,” the spokesperson said.

“We will continue to make new and follow-on investments in the Australian market.”

Of these new investments is Q-CTRL, which claims it has more than 8,000 users across its product portfolio and achieved $15 million in bookings between its quantum computing and quantum sensing divisions in 2022.

“Our technical and product achievements are exceptional, and it’s thrilling to see such broad adoption of our products from some of the largest and most important technical and enterprise customers,” said Q-CTRL CEO Michael J. Biercuk, who founded the company in 2017.

“With the world’s largest team of experts in quantum control and error suppression, we’ve established ourselves as the leading provider of some of the most important technology in this sector.

“Today’s additional validation from the investor community - especially while capital raises have been difficult to assemble - is a huge boost for our mission and ambition to truly make quantum technology useful.”

Salesforce Ventures managing director Robert Keith said Q-CTRL’s technology stood ‘head-and-shoulders above the rest of the industry’.

“Q-CTRL’s products are essential for enterprise adoption of quantum computing, and their use of AI is delivering critical insights across hardware platforms that no one else can match,” Keith said.

“With their additional leadership in pioneering quantum sensors, we came to see Q-CTRL as one of the most consequential businesses in the sector for their ability to deliver value through quantum technology.”

Q-CTRL is reaping the benefits of an influx of investment into quantum computing companies. According to consultants McKinsey, more than USD$3 billion in venture capital was plugged into quantum computing firms as of June 2022, and that the sector was the second largest space for tech investment into Australia.

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