Alphabet’s quantum project, a pioneer quantum unit started by Google cofounder Sergei Brin, may be preparing to leave the quantum sandbox, according to several media sources and a few tantalizing clues.
Both Business Insider and Tech Radar are reporting that several signs indicate that Alphabet will spin out its quantum division, Sandbox@Alphabet. Business Insider reports the new company will be led by current boss Jack Hidary.
The sources report that Hidary has submitted filing to create a new company, SB Technologies, and there is a website, sandboxquantum.com. The website is sparse on information, however.
Google’s well-funded quantum approach made scientific history and — arguably — kicked off the current quantum computing era in 2019 when the team announced its superconducting quantum computing achieved quantum supremacy. It’s research team has been somewhat quiet since 2019, although has made significant advances in chemical simulation and breakthroughs in error correction with a goal of creating a “useful, error-corrected quantum computer” by the end of the decade. One of the more intriguing experiments to come out of Google’s quantum division is its work with time crystals.
The new quantum company would join an industry that is experiencing exponential funding growth and a breathtaking pace of scientific advances. Alphabet’s move would almost certainly be seen by not just the burgeoning quantum field, but the industry at large, as official recognition of the potential for quantum to deliver practical results.
The Quantum Insider view
If the rumours prove to be true, this is just another example of an increasingly interesting corporate landscape in quantum computing. 2021 saw significant changes in the quantum corporate landscape. Quantinuum was formed through the announced merger of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum Computing. IonQ, Rigetti and Arqit announced SPACs and over $3 billion of private capital in total flowed into the market.
However, a spin out from Google would be particularly interesting. Many industry pundits have been questioning whether 2022 and 2023 will see significant consolidation with developers of superconducting quantum technology (IBM, Google for example) looking to acquire start-ups in the space such as Oxford Quantum Circuits and Alice & Bob. The reality of the quantum tech ecosystem is a little more complex however. Industry participants are now working across different qubit modalities (Ion Traps, Photonics, Neutral Atoms, Silicon Spin) which all have now received significant VC funding, and we question whether the corporate moves will be more subtle and complex than the big mergers we have seen to date.
Let’s watch this space.