Local quantum leader Q-CTRL lands Salesforce backing

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australian quantum startup Q-CTRL plans to add 40 more staff this year after securing an additional A$38.5 million funding in an expanded series B announced Wednesday that includes Salesforce Ventures as the largest single investor.

The Salesforce backing of the Sydney based Q-Ctrl is from its global fund operated from San Francisco. It comes just days after the software giant confirmed it has axed its Australian venture capital arm after almost four years of investing in Australian startups.

Q-Ctrl’s expanded investment round widens the 2021 Series B to A$74 million and brings the quantum firm’s total raises to more than A$100 million.

The company said it will put the new funding towards engineering and an expansion of its sales and marketing capacity. It expects headcount to grow from 80 to 120 in 2023 across offices in Sydney, Los Angeles and Berlin.

The funding injection comes just weeks out from the expected launch of Australia’s first national quantum strategy and as interest in the potentially transformative technology grows around the world.

Quantum sensing and earth observation. Photo: Q-CTRL

Q-CTRL confirmed Salesforce was the largest single investor in the expanded round and is the marquee new syndicate member, but they did not formally lead.

The Salesforce backing was announced just days after it was revealed the US company had axed the Australian arm of its venture fund as part of a round of redundancies.

Salesforce Ventures’ Australian arm had invested in a host of local tech startups like Culture Amp, Airwallex and Go1. The company told the Australian Financial Review this week its move out of Australia did not reflect a lack of interest in the market and the global fund would monitor opportunities and its investments from the US.

Salesforce Venture’s first employee and principal Robert Keith, who ran Salesforce Ventures in Australia from 2019 before returning home to the US in 2022, said Q-CTRL’s technology “stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the industry”.

“Q-CTRL’s products are essential for enterprise adoption of quantum computing, and their use of AI is delivering critical insights across hardware platforms that no one else can match,” Mr Keith said in a statement.

“With their additional leadership in pioneering quantum sensors, we came to see Q-CTRL as one of the most consequential businesses in the sector for their ability to deliver value through quantum technology.”

In addition to Salesforce Ventures, new investors include Alumni Ventures, ICM Allectus, Mindrock Capital, former General Dynamics partner Bill Lightfoot, and former Australian rugby team captain John Eales.

Continuing Q-CTRL investors in the expanded Q-Ctrl Series B include Airbus Ventures — which led the initial series B in 2021 — Data Collective, Horizons, Main Sequence Ventures, and Ridgeline Partners.

Q-CTRL was founded by University of Sydney Professor Michael Biercuk in 2017, pioneering the quantum infrastructure software segment. It touts a software product and training that helps solve the Achilles heel of quantum technologies, hardware stability and error.

It has since expanded into quantum sensing, and now claims more than 8000 users and made bookings of $15 million last year.

“Our technical and product achievements are exceptional, and it’s thrilling to see such broad adoption of our products from some of the largest and most important technical and enterprise customers,” said Q-CTRL founder and chief executive Professor Biercuk.

“With the world’s largest team of experts in quantum control and error suppression, we’ve established ourselves as the leading provider of some of the most important technology in this sector. Today’s additional validation from the investor community – especially while capital raises have been difficult to assemble – is a huge boost for our mission and ambition to truly make quantum technology useful.”

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