Quantum computing software startup Sandbox AQ, which spun off from Alphabet Inc. last year, said today it has closed on a $500 million round of funding.
Breyer Capital, T. Rowe Price funds and Salesforce Inc. founder Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures all participated in the round, as did its Chairman Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google LLC.
Sandbox AQ, which is incorporated as SB Technology Inc., is led by CEO Jack Hidary, who previously led quantum computing research at Alphabet’s X lab. Its main focus is on building post-quantum cryptography software, which is a new approach to data encryption that’s designed to withstand attacks from quantum computers.
It’s believed that quantum computers, which take advantage of quantum mechanics, could one day perform calculations millions of times faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers. Although that day is still likely years away, there is a real risk that such machines could render today’s encryption methods useless.
The fear is that hackers are already harvesting data today, in preparation for the day when quantum computers are ready and accessible. Last year, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology set new cryptography standards that could better withstand quantum computer attacks.
Sandbox AQ’s software works by scanning enterprise’s information technology systems to identify any data that’s still using older cryptography standards. It identifies which parts of the system need to be updated urgently, and also sets out to fortify the encryption of the entire company, Hidary told Reuters in an interview.
In addition, Sandbox AQ also sells quantum simulation software that can assist with the development of new drugs and materials, plus quantum sensors for medical devices and technologies that could one day replace the Global Positioning System.
Sandbox AQ has said it’s targeting customers in areas such as telecommunications, financial services, government, healthcare and cybersecurity. Existing customers previously disclosed include New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, SoftBank Group Corp.’s telecommunications business and Vodafone Business.
In a statement today, Schmidt said the company already has more than 15 enterprise and government customers, and is working with more than 30 universities to train Ph.D.s and other talent required to build its post-quantum cryptography solutions.