Qualcomm's longer term bet on the automotive sector as a lucrative customer base for its chips and related communications technology is getting a significant push today: The company announced that it is acquiring Autotalks, a fabless chipmaker out of Israel that builds semiconductor and system-on-a-chip technology to aid in automotive safety; sources tell us Qualcomm is paying between $350 million and $400 million for the startup.
Autotalks' tech is used in sensors that help vehicles (which can be bikes, cars or another form of mobility) and their drivers detect road hazards such as oncoming vehicles in a driver's blind spots; it also communicates with other vehicles using compatible tech to improve responsiveness. Qualcomm said the plan will be to integrate Autotalks' V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication tech into its mobility-focused Snapdragon Digital Chassis portfolio.
The financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed, but a source close to the deal tells us that it's a $350-$400 million deal. We have contacted Qualcomm for a comment and will update as we learn more.
Autotalks, founded in 2009, has raised $110 million, according to data from PitchBook. Its many backers included a number of strategic investors such as Samsung, Hyundai and Toyota, as well as financial backers like Gemini Israel and Magma Venture Partners.
Qualcomm has picked up some interesting momentum in its automotive business to date, with customers including VW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Honda and Stellantis. In September last year it claimed a $30 billion "design-win pipeline" in automotive -- although that is a longer-term idea more than a solid concept. In more hard numbers, its QCT division (the core CDMA business covering mobile and wireless chips and related tech) saw automotive revenue of $975 million in FY21, and $1.3 billion in FY22.
It's not too much of a surprise to see Qualcomm scooping up a company like Autotalks. In the world of advanced automotive technology, safety has become one of the most important issues, but also one of the most lucrative opportunities, in the building of autonomous and driver-assisted systems. As a primary feature and solution most likely to be used by customers, it also becomes one that carmakers are most likely to invest in when designing newer car models, regardless of larger timelines for fully autonomous systems. So beefing up Qualcomm's capabilities and product range in this area is a logical next step.
“We have been investing in V2X research, development and deployment since 2017 and believe that as the automotive market matures, a standalone V2X safety architecture will be needed for enhanced road user safety, as well as smart transportation systems,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president & GM, automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement. “We share Autotalks’ decades-long experience and commitment to build V2X technologies and products with a focus on solving real-world road user safety challenges. We look forward to working together to deliver global V2X solutions that will help accelerate time-to-market and enable mass market adoption of this very important safety technology.”
“It has been our mission to revolutionize safety for the transportation and automotive industry through our V2X solutions,” added Hagai Zyss, CEO of Autotalks. “We are confident that by combining our knowledge and expertise, we will not only deliver strong V2X products that will enhance transportation efficiency and safety for road users but will accelerate widespread adoption of V2X. We look forward to serving the auto industry together with Qualcomm and to bring the best technologies to market.”