Moving deeper into enterprise cloud, Intel picks up Barefoot Networks

When it launched out of stealth just three years ago, Barefoot Networks was hailed as a company that would transform the way a generation of computing giants like Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft would function while making chip manufacturers like Intel and networking companies like Cisco take notice

Now, Intel has not only taken notice, it’s acquired Barefoot Networks for an undisclosed amount.

It’s a sign of just how important cloud computing has become, and an opportunity for Intel to stake more of a claim in the networking space after losing ground to the GPU manufacturers whose chipsets have been in demand since the rise of gaming, graphics, and artificial intelligence made them ascendant.

Essentially, Barefoot Networks chips allow its customers to program whatever functionality they need on to the networking chips that Barefoot sells them. 

Previously, companies could customize network architecture down to everything BUT the chipset. The lack of programmable chips meant that network architectures couldn’t be quite as responsive as a company like Facebook, Microsoft, or Google would want, because they were always working around chipsets that had been designed for specific functions.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Barefoot Networks was launched from stealth in late 2016 by Dr. Craig Barratt, a former Stanford University professor whose work was critical to the development of the networking architectures that allowed Alphabet, Facebook and others to operate at the massive scale they now have.

As these companies demanded more customized hardware ranging from chipsets to enable their various machine learning algorithms to manage and monitor content (and win Go games), to the servers and routers that they’ve put up in their own internal networks Barratt realized they’d need chipsets that they could modify.

With the acquisition, Intel adds a core knowledge set around p4-programmable high speed data paths, switch silicon development, P4 compilers, drivers oftware, network telemetry and computational networking.

It also provides another bulwark against rival chip manufacturer, Broadcom .

No word from some of Barefoot Networks investors on the result for them in this acquisition. The company raised $155.4 million from investors including Tencent Holdings, DHVC, Alibaba Group, Dell Technologies Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lightspeed Ventures.

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A16Z interview, 5G, Peloton, handling Big Tech issues, and offering better benefits

Unraveling the “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” and the VC thought process, with Andreessen Horowitz’s Scott Kupor

Our Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos hosted an Extra Crunch live conference call with Andreessen Horowitz GP Scott Kupor, who manages all ops for the firm and was formerly head of the National Venture Capital Association. He just published a new book entitled “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” which is a guide to the venture capital industry and how to attract the attention of VCs to your startup.

This was our most popular conference call so far, and it was great to see so many people coming out to chat with Scott. In case you missed it, we have published the full transcript for Extra Crunch members.

Connie: Talking about demystifying venture capital, you’ve been with Andreessen Horowitz for roughly 10 years, pretty much from the outset of the firm. Can you tell us, beyond a warm introduction, what does it take to get a meeting at Andreessen Horowitz? What do you start looking for on paper?

Scott: What we’re really looking for is a couple of things. First, we always think about market initially, because we know that we’re going to be wrong a lot of times and the way we have to invest is we have to believe at the time we make the investment that the market size is big enough to be able to support a standalone, hopefully, public company at some point in time.

So, that’s always the threshold question we’re trying to ask — is the opportunity that they’re going after is as big as it possibly can be? And then, most of the analysis, particularly the early stage, tends to be based on team, because, we don’t really have the benefit of the product yet.

We definitely don’t even know, quite frankly, how the markets going to evolve. And so, the real question is what is it about this team or set of individuals that makes them uniquely qualified to go after this opportunity? What do they know?

We use this term internally, called an “earned secret”, which is what have you learned that other people might not know that’s going to really enable you to go build something that we know is going to be tough and competitive, and a long slog? And, a lot of the evaluation really starts there.

This year’s Computex was a wild ride with dueling chip releases, new laptops and 467 startups

Our Taipei-based correspondent Catherine Shu attended the local Computex conference, which has long been a major hub in the semiconductor, next-generation silicon, AI and 5G circuits. She wrote up her observations of what’s on the cutting edge of these fields, and what the opportunities for startups are in these hot spaces.

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This year’s Computex was a wild ride with dueling chip releases, new laptops and 467 startups

After a relatively quiet show last year, Computex picked up the pace this year, with dueling chip launches by rivals AMD and Intel and a slew of laptop releases from Asus, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Lenovo and other companies.

Founded in 1981, the trade show, which took place last week from May 28 to June 1, is one of the ICT industry’s largest gatherings of OEMs and ODMs. In recent years, the show’s purview has widened, thanks to efforts by its organizers, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and Taipei Computer Association, to attract two groups: high-end computer customers, such as hardcore gamers, and startups looking for investors and business partners. This makes for a larger, more diverse and livelier show. Computex’s organizers said this year’s event attracted 42,000 international visitors, a new record.

Though the worldwide PC market continues to see slow growth, demand for high-performance computers is still being driven by gamers and the popularity of esports and live-streaming sites like Twitch. Computex, with its large, elaborate booths run by brands like Asus’ Republic of Gaming, is a popular destination for many gamers (the show is open to the public, with tickets costing NTD $200, or about $6.40), and began hosting esport competitions a few years ago.

People visit the ASUS stand during Computex at Nangang exhibition centre in Taipei on May 28, 2019. (Photo by Chris STOWERS / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty Images)

The timing of the show, formally known as the Taipei International Information Technology Show, at the end of May or beginning of June each year, also gives companies a chance to debut products they teased at CES or preview releases for other shows later in the year, including E3 and IFA.

One difference between Computex now and ten (or maybe even just five) years ago is that the increasing accessibility of high-end PCs means many customers keep a close eye on major announcements by companies like AMD, Intel and Nvidia, not only to see when more powerful processors will be available but also because of potential pricing wars. For example, many gamers hope competition from new graphic processor units from AMD will force Nvidia to bring down prices on its popular but expensive GPUs.

The Battle of the Chips

The biggest news at this year’s Computex was the intense rivalry between AMD and Intel, whose keynote presentations came after a very different twelve months for the two competitors.

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The biggest news at Computex 2019

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Our week in Taiwan is coming to a close, and as Team Engadget bids goodbye to the dumplings and beef noodles, it’s time to look back on all the news we saw this week. As always, ASUS was the star of the show in its home turf, and this year was especially significant as the company celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. It unveiled attractive new special editions of the ZenBook and ZenFone, as well as a dual-screen laptop.

This Computex, chip makers ruled the show with their powerful new products. Intel even wowed us by showing off intriguing concept devices with dual and integrated companion screens, as well as the first slate of laptops from its Project Athena program. Qualcomm and Lenovo were also here to announce their “Project Limitless” collaboration with the first 5G laptop. And then there’s the usual onslaught of new gaming PCs, laptops, keyboards and accessories. It’s been a particularly interesting show with exciting news for the PC industry, and we can’t wait to come back next year for more.

Catch up on all the latest news from Computex 2019 here!

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Following US Huawei ban, China threatens own blacklist for foreign firms

Odds of the U.S. and China cooling off their trade war further diminished on Friday after the world’s most populous nation said it would create a list of “unreliable” foreign firms of its own.

Gao Feng, a spokesman of China’s commerce ministry, said today that the nation will create an “entity list” that will include, in part, foreign companies that have stopped or curtailed their businesses with Chinese firms.

“Foreign enterprises, organisations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract’s spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of ‘unreliable entities’,” he was quoted as saying by state-owned local media.

The retaliation comes weeks after the U.S. Commerce Department enlisted Huawei and 68 affiliates in an entity list over national security concerns, thereby requiring American companies to take approval from the government before conducting business with Chinese firms. A 90-day reprieve has been granted to allow companies such as Google to offer critical support to Huawei, however.

In the aftermath of that direction, several American firms including Google, Intel, and Qualcomm have curtailed their business agreements with the Chinese giant. Huawei executives have said in recent weeks that such ban on the company in the U.S. will significantly impact its business and hurt its reputation worldwide.

Even as details remain sparse at the moment, much of Silicon Valley giants appear to fit the bill of the companies that China wants on its blacklist.
Over the weekend, China will increase tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in response to U.S. duties on $200 billion in Chinese products earlier this month. The two nations have shown little signs of reaching a resolution.

Huawei, in the meantime, has filed a legal motion to challenge the U.S. ban on its equipment, calling it “unconstitutional.” The company has also sent its American employees deployed at R&D functions at its Shenzhen headquarters home. It has also asked its Chinese employees to limit conversations with overseas visitors, and cease any technical meetings with their US contacts.

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