Sunday 11 December 2016

Ireland's venture capital king nets €23m gain from €300m sale of Movidius to Intel

Simon Rowe

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

The Intel deal announced this week - estimated to be worth in excess of €300m - represents a dramatic turnaround for the Irish chipmaker, which had to secure rescue funding in 2013 Photo: PA
The Intel deal announced this week - estimated to be worth in excess of €300m - represents a dramatic turnaround for the Irish chipmaker, which had to secure rescue funding in 2013 Photo: PA

Serial tech investor Brian Caulfield's winning streak continues with his VC firm on course to net a €23.4m profit from the sale of Irish start-up Movidius to Intel.

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Caulfield, who heads the Irish office of Draper Esprit - one of Europe's largest venture capital firms - will see his stake valued at €27m, after investing €3.6m just three years ago.

The Trinity graduate says Draper Esprit will use the cash pile to invest in Irish tech start-ups - and Caulfield is already on the hunt for the next big thing here.

The Intel deal announced this week - estimated to be worth in excess of €300m - represents a dramatic turnaround for the Irish chipmaker, which had to secure rescue funding in 2013. At the time Draper Esprit, Atlantic Bridge and Bosch came on board with €16m in a crucial funding round.

"We invested in March 2013 when Movidius was in a tough spot," recalls Caulfield. "A number of their original investors had run out of road and they needed a rescue round."

In another funding round last year, €38m in cash was raised from investors that included Summit Bridge Capital, the China-Ireland Growth Technology Fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital, ARCH Venture Partners and Caulfield's firm.

Caulfield says the €300m price tag for Movidius is easy to justify.

"It is probably one of the most important technology companies ever to come out of Ireland," he said.

"It will underpin the future of artificial reality and virtual reality. Artificial reality will be the next big computer platform, and Movidius technology is a key enabler of that."

Movidius was founded in 2006 by David Moloney and Seán Mitchell. Its main activity is making chips that let machines 'see' and 'think'. They are in huge demand for use in unmanned drones.

The State holds a stake of roughly 8pc in the company, held through a number of investment managers backed by the National Treasury Management Agency.

Having signed deals with Google and Lenovo, the Dublin-based company has secured a lucrative position in the 'internet of things' sector.

Google plans to use Movidius chips in its own 3D-mapping platform.

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