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The first publicly traded quantum computing company debuted on Wall Street on Friday, marking a milestone for a technology that until recently was considered to be many years of practical use.
IonQ’s public listing, through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or Spac, comes as much larger amounts of capital have started flowing into quantum companies with growing hope. that rudimentary forms of technology will soon solve everyday problems. for companies.
Quantum computers exploit the strange effects of quantum mechanics to process information in such a way as to massively accelerate certain types of computation. But the difficulty of controlling the qubits at the heart of the systems has made it difficult to build systems large enough to exploit the effects practically.
After raising $ 82 million in its first six years as a private company, including a financing round led by SoftBank earlier this year, IonQ’s public listing has grossed $ 635 million. PsiQuantum, which builds quantum computers using different photon-based technology, raised $ 450 million in private funding earlier this year. Honeywell has agreed to inject $ 300 million into a new quantum unit after merging with Cambridge Quantum Computing in the UK.
Peter Chapman, the former Amazon executive who runs IonQ, predicts that his company’s quantum machines will equal the world’s fastest supercomputers “in a few years.”
Software designed to run on machines and run simulations was already demonstrating their superiority over traditional computers, Chapman said. Much of the focus has been on using a quantum computer to speed up the time it takes to train a machine learning model, he added. However, quantum systems capable of running these algorithms have yet to move from scientific experimentation to larger-scale production.
IonQ predicts a rapid escalation in its business by the middle of this decade, with revenues rising from $ 60 million in 2024 to $ 522 million in 2026. The revenue take-off would occur when companies that pay to develop quantum applications start. to use them in their daily operations, Chapman said.
The ability to foresee far into the future was one of the main draws of the IPO via a Spac and IonQ might not have been able to fit under the tighter regulatory constraints imposed. to companies pursuing a standard initial public offering, he added.
Chapman admitted that the technology comes with much higher risk than normal stock investing, but added, “We’ve come to a point where companies have to be perfect by the time you get to an IPO. Much of the risk has been removed, but much of the return has been removed as well. ”
IonQ shares ended the day at $ 9.20, valuing the company at around $ 1.7 billion. The price was 15% below the level at which Spac was trading prior to closing.