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Rigetti gets new CFO, CTO, cuts staff by 28% as it seeks higher fidelity

By Dan O'Shea posted 13 Feb 2023

After a little over two months in charge of Rigetti Computing, CEO Subodh Kulkarni is making some changes, appointing a new CTO, hiring a new CFO and reducing the firm’s staff headcount by about 28%.

Regarding the executive-level changes, Jeffrey Bertelsen will replace Rigetti’s CFO, Brian Sereda, effective Feb. 15, though Sereda will remain with the company as a non-executive employee until March 31. Also, David Rivas, Senior Vice President, Systems and Services at Rigetti since March 2019, overseeing the engineering and operations of Rigetti’s Quantum Cloud Services platform, has been promoted to CTO, replacing former CTO Mike Harburn, who left the company effective Feb. 9.

Kulkarni said in a statement that the moves will help Rigetti to focus the organization and its resources on nearer-term strategic priorities, including its technology roadmap.

“Upon assuming my role as CEO, we have moved quickly to review and confirm key strategic priorities for the nearer term,” stated Kulkarni. “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.”

More specifically, Kulkarni said that upon the anticipated launch of the Ankaa-1 84-qubit system, Rigetti plans to focus its efforts on improving system performance with the goal of reaching at least 99% 2-qubit gate fidelity on the eventual Ankaa-2 84-qubit system, something Kulkarni hinted at as a near-term goal during a public appearance at last month’s Needham & Co. Growth Conference.

He said that if the company achieves that gate fidelity target, Rigetti plans to shift its focus to scaling to develop the planned Lyra 336-qubit system. 

Getting back to the executive changes, the Bertelsen appointment is notable because he also served as CFO and COO of CyberOptics, a developer and manufacturer of high precision sensors and inspection systems for the semiconductor and electronics industry, and which previously was led by Kulkarni and eventually sold under his leadership.

About the layoffs, Kulkarni stated. “We value the contributions of all of our employees. 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 exact number of job cuts were not announced, but if recent public information about the firm’s headcount was still accurate, the reduction could have affected around 35-40 employees.

These moves come after Rigetti recently was served a Notice of Delisting from Nasdaq just a few weeks short of its one-year anniversary as a publicly traded company, Rigetti told IQT News last week prior to the executive shuffle and layoffs that its had no comment regarding the delisting notice. The company said it plans to further discuss the strategic and organizational changes during its earnings call for the fourth quarter and full year 2022 next month.

Screenshot from Needham & Co. Growth Conference on Jan. 10, 2022, where Rigetti CEO Subodh Kulkarni (left) spoke along with David Rivas (right), who was just named the company’s CTO.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

Categories: quantum computing

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