Rigetti Lays Off 28 Percent of Staff, Focuses on Narrow Quantum Advantage

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Insider Brief

  • Rigetti Computing announced updated business strategy, including staff cuts and technological roadmap changes.
  • The company announced it is laying off about 28% of overall staff.
  • Road map will focus on delivering Ankaa-1 84-qubit system this quarter and achieving narrow quantum advantage.

PRESS RELEASE — Rigetti Computing, Inc. (“Rigetti” or “the Company”) (NASDAQ: RGTI), a pioneer in hybrid quantum-classical computing systems, today announced that its Board has approved an updated business strategy, including revisions to its technology roadmap. In connection with this updated strategy, the Company will transition to a newly appointed CFO and CTO and is implementing a workforce reduction in order to focus the organization and its resources on nearer-term strategic priorities.

“Upon assuming my role as CEO, we have moved quickly to review and confirm key strategic priorities for the nearer term,” stated Dr. Subodh Kulkarni, Chief Executive Officer. “The Company’s revised technology roadmap will, (i) concentrate on the goal to deliver the anticipated Ankaa-1 84-qubit system in Q1 2023, aiming to deliver denser qubit spacing and tunable couplers expected to enable better performance compared to Rigetti’s current 80-qubit Aspen-M system; (ii) prioritize increasing the performance of the anticipated Ankaa-1 84-qubit system once it is launched and (iii) focus efforts to achieve narrow quantum advantage, the point at which a quantum computer is able to solve a practical, operationally relevant problem significantly better, faster, or cheaper than a current classical solution. Specifically, upon the anticipated launch of the Ankaa-1 84-qubit system, Rigetti plans to focus its efforts on improving the performance of the system with the goal of reaching at least 99% 2-qubit gate fidelity on the anticipated Ankaa-2 84-qubit system, and if this target is achieved, Rigetti plans to shift its focus to scaling to develop the anticipated Lyra 336-qubit system.”

An updated Investor Presentation, including the revised technology roadmap reflecting these changes, has been published on the Investor section of the Company’s website (https://investors.rigetti.com/news-events/events), and the Company’s previously announced roadmap should no longer be referred to or relied upon. Rigetti believes that this revised business plan and technology roadmap will enable it to concentrate its software application development strategy on what the Company believes to be the highest likelihood applications for demonstrating nearer term narrow quantum advantage.

In connection with updating its business plan, the Company also announced leadership changes at the CFO and CTO positions. Jeffrey Bertelsen will replace Rigetti’s current Chief Financial Officer, Brian Sereda, effective February 15, 2023, and Mr. Sereda will thereafter remain with the Company as a non-executive employee until March 31, 2023, in order to support the transition. Mr. Bertelsen comes to the Company with more than 25 years of experience as a finance executive, most recently as CFO and COO of CyberOptics Corporation, a developer and manufacturer of high precision sensors and inspection systems for the semiconductor and electronics industry.

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“I want to thank Brian for getting the Company through the complicated process of going public and being in a position to hand off the CFO duties,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “I am excited to have Jeff join Rigetti as our new CFO. I have previously worked with Jeff for nine years and believe he has the skills and experience Rigetti needs at this phase of the Company’s evolution.”

“I’m looking forward to joining Rigetti to work alongside Subodh and the team during this critical phase,” commented Mr. Bertelsen.

In addition, effective February 9, 2023, David Rivas has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer, replacing Mike Harburn who is leaving the Company, effective February 9. Mr. Rivas previously served as Rigetti’s Senior Vice President, Systems and Services since March 2019, overseeing the engineering and operations of Rigetti’s Quantum Cloud Services platform.

As part of the updated business strategy to narrow Rigetti’s focus in the nearer term on Ankaa 84-qubit system performance and the goal of advancing toward achieving narrow quantum advantage, the Company also is reducing its headcount by approximately 28% of overall staff, in order to lower operating expenses in activities outside these focus areas and preserve available cash resources.

“We value the contributions of all of our employees,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “We believe these actions put Rigetti in a better position to deliver on the promise of quantum computing and are aligned with the Company’s refocus on nearer-term priorities.”

The Company plans to discuss the strategic and organizational changes during its earnings call announcing Q4 and full year 2022 results in March. Details of the earnings call will be forthcoming.

About Jeffrey Bertelsen

Mr. Jeffrey Bertelsen has more than 25 years of executive accomplishments in the hi-tech industry. Previously, Mr. Bertelsen served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for CyberOptics Corporation from 2005 until 2022.  Prior to CyberOptics, Mr. Bertelsen was Vice President, Finance, Corporate Controller, Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary of Computer Network Technology Corporation (“CNT”), a provider of storage networking equipment and solutions. During his 10 years at CNT, Mr. Bertelsen held various finance positions starting as a controller in 1995. Prior to CNT, he served as a CPA with KPMG, LLP. Mr. Bertelsen has a B.S. in accounting and finance from the University of Minnesota.

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Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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