– Blaize, a California semiconductor venture, is receiving $71 million in funding from Middle Eastern investors.
– Despite potential export control issues, Blaize has been signing deals in the Middle East and aims to become a major player in edge computing and AI.
So, here’s a tale of a little company that could. Blaize, a California semiconductor venture, is gearing up to hop on the IPO rollercoaster with an enterprise value of $894 million. You’ve heard it right, folks, Middle Eastern investors are playing fairy godmother for this Cinderella story. And the fairy godmother’s name, in this case, is Shahal Khan. This guy, already known for spearheading the 2018 acquisition of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, sees the potential in Blaize’s chips and is keen on turning the Gulf states into what he calls “one of the major supercomputer hubs on the planet.” Now that’s a lofty goal if I’ve ever heard one.
Yes, Blaize has been in the semiconductor game for over a decade, operating in relative obscurity much like that one cousin no one remembers at family gatherings. And similar to that cousin, Blaize has struggled to get the attention (or in this case, capital) it needs from its current investors. But fear not, our underdog has found its knight in shining armor. Middle Eastern investors, led by our man Khan, have taken the reins and are now set to inject a cool $71 million into Blaize.
But, hold your horses, there’s a wrinkle in this pretty picture. As it turns out, being buddies with the Middle East might not be all sunshine and rainbows for an American chip company. The U.S. government, in their infinite wisdom, is tightening the noose on semiconductor export controls to countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, primarily because they fear China is using these regions as a backdoor to get their hands on this tech. It’s like playing hide and seek with your little brother, and he hides in the neighbor’s backyard. But hey, Blaize CEO, Dinakar Munagala, assures us that they’re all about playing by the rules.
Despite this potentially hairy situation, Blaize has been signing deals in the Middle East left, right, and center. They recently entered a Memorandum of Understanding with Mark AB Capital, a fund controlled by members of Abu Dhabi’s royal family. I mean, if you’re going to make some friends in high places, why not aim for royalty?
Now, let’s not forget that Blaize’s origins are humble. The founding team consisted only of former Intel semiconductor engineers, led by Munagala, who had a dream about providing compute power for edge applications like video analytics. After releasing its first products in 2020, they even raised $70 million from investors like Franklin Templeton, GGV, and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek. It’s like the little engine that could, only this engine might just power the future of AI.
As the IPO comes knocking, our hero Munagala, is currently on a roadshow trying to drum up some hype. His first stop? Saudi Arabia. They’re in talks to deploy Blaize chips in a new data center outside Riyadh and in drones used for agriculture. Who knows? Maybe the next time you bite into a Saudi Arabian apple, you’ll have Blaize to thank.