Clever algorithms and exponential growth in computing power has helped tech companies bring about massive change across every major industry. But when it comes to taking on really big and complex math problems, current computing technology might be brushing up against its limits.
Strangeworks, an Austin-based startup founded by local serial entrepreneur William Hurley, wants to take on these complex data challenges with quantum computing. And the company just raised a $4 million seed round to launch its product for companies operating in finance, energy, pharmaceuticals and the aerospace sector.
A major area of focus for data pioneers like IBM and Google, quantum computing is still spoken about largely in theoretical terms. Unlike traditional computing, in which every math problem eventually breaks down into bits — 1s and 0s — quantum computers rely on quantum physics to store more information in their fundamental building blocks, known as qubits.
The upshot is that quantum computers could crunch math problems that are impossibly complex by today’s standards, in addition to increasing computing speed and reducing energy usage across all math problems.
According to Adam Goldberg, a partner at Lightspeed, which led Tuesday’s round, Strangeworks’ efforts to apply the approach to real-world business cases is showing great promise.
“I’ve been working with the Strangeworks team for several months now, and I'm confident that their approach to building a business around quantum and other forms of unconventional computing is the most audacious and forward-thinking I've seen,” said Goldberg in a statement. “Strangeworks has enormous potential and I'm excited that Lightspeed has partnered with such an accomplished team.”
Founded in 2017, Strangeworks will design software for researchers and developers, as well as systems management infrastructure. At launch, the company’s tools will be available on a subscription basis and run on a proprietary computing platform.
Hurley, Strangeworks’ founder and CEO, who is best known as "whurley," is also the founder of Chaotic Moon Studios, Equals and Honest Dollar. The latter was acquired by investment firm Goldman Sachs in 2016, only two years after its founding.
Several members of Honest Dollar’s founding team, including David Cardona and Justin Youens, have joined Hurley in the venture.
Investors in the round include GreatPoint Ventures, Ecliptic Capital, Lux Capital, BoxGroup and Amplify Partners, as well as three individual investors. Among them is Jon Soberg, who led Honest Dollar’s initial seed round.
“I led the seed round in Honest Dollar, which has brought retirement products to a grossly underserved market and is thriving at Goldman Sachs after the very good exit,” said Soberg in a statement. “Strangeworks is doing something similar by making a rare and valuable resource — quantum computing in this case — available to more people who can benefit from it. I'm proud and excited to work with whurley, Justin, David and the team again.”
The startup is already part of the IBM Q Network, which is dedicated to pushing quantum computing technology forward. Strangeworks is also part of several international groups dedicated to industry standardization and advocacy, including IEEE’s Quantum Computing Standards Workgroup and the European Organization for Nuclear Research.