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Secretive semiconductor startup Groq raises $52M from Social Capital

Groq has raised $52.3 million of a $60 million round, per an SEC filing. Social Capital co-founder and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, who’s listed on the filing, has participated in the funding. Palihapitiya confirmed Social Capital’s participation in the round to TechCrunch and said a few other undisclosed investors participated as well. Social Capital, which has been experiencing a boatload of personnel changes as of late, also led Groq’s $10 million investment in April 2017. Groq is developing a tensor processing unit — which is an integrated circuit developed for machine learning specifically. There’s not much other info out there; the company doesn’t have much of a website or any promotional materials available for public viewing. In addition to Palihapitiya, two other names are listed on the most recent filing. That’s the company’s CTO Jonathan Ross, who spent about five years as a hardware engineer at Google and co-founded the search giant’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which is responsible for its custom ML chip. The other name is Douglas Wightman, a former software engineer at Google. His LinkedIn profile says he’s Groq’s CEO. The AI chip startup explosion is already here Palihapitiya has spoken publicly about the project before, telling CNBC last year that he was “really excited about Groq.” “It’s too early to talk specifics, but we think what they’re building could become a fundamental building block for the next generation of computing,” he said. The company has reportedly poached several people from Google’s TPU team.

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