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Will Silicon Valley Bank crisis affect quantum? Concerns linger

By Dan O'Shea posted 14 Mar 2023

The shutdown of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) late last week led to a weekend full of chaos and speculation about what might or might not happen next. By Monday morning, the federal government seemed poised to provide financial back-up and assistance for depositors affected by the crisis, but there remains an air of concern about the ripple effects the SVB issues could continue to have across the technology start-up community, including in the quantum technology sector.

SVB has been active in recent years as an investor in quantum companies, having been listed among investors in Xanadu, and as a backer of the Duality quantum acceleration program. There are believed to be a handful of quantum technology companies that have some relationship with the bank, either directly as account holders or through venture capital investment in past funding rounds. 

One quantum industry source, speaking late last Friday on the condition of anonymity, told IQT News that he knew of one company and multiple individuals who held accounts at SVB, but he declined to identify any of those parties. IQT has attempted to contact other quantum sector sources about their reaction to the crisis, but as of Monday morning had not received any other responses.

Over the weekend, a few quantum sector luminaries took to social media channels to comment on or wonder aloud about the crisis.

For example, Chad Rigetti, who founded Rigetti Computing and led the company as CEO until late last year, posted several Tweets about the SVB crisis, one of which included a link to a petition to help SVB depositors.

Charles Tahan, who is with the Executive Office of the PresidentOffice of Science and Technology Policy, posted on Twitter last Friday: “How many quantum startups are being affected by the Silicon Valley Bank takeover?” Q-CTRL founder Michael Biercuk reacted to that Tweet, replying: “Most or almost all. Just like almost all tech companies broadly.”

Therein lie ongoing concerns. Even as the federal government has moved in to calm fears, to what extent will the SVB crisis further cripple an already struggling environment for start-up funding in the U.S.? For example, for the last several months new funding for quantum companies in the U.S. in particular has slowed to a trickle, even while quantum start-ups in other regions of the world continue to announce new funding at a rapid rate.

Also, another very pertinent question for quantum folks: To what degree will the optics around the SVB crisis negatively affect the ability of start-ups to continue to lure new employees and earn the trust of new partners and new customers?

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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