Intel Capital invests in Chinese chip companies amid tech tensions

FILE PHOTO: U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp's logo is seen on their "smart building" in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, Israel December 15, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Intel Capital, the venture arm of chipmaker Intel Corp, has invested in two Chinese startups in the semiconductor sector, the company announced on Wednesday, as part of its latest batch of deals.

The investments in companies that compete in fields typically dominated by U.S. players come as Intel remains embroiled in tensions between the United States and China over chip manufacturing.

ProPlus, one the Chinese startups Intel Capital has funded, makes EDA software that chip makers use to design their products before manufacturing them.

The leaders in that field, Cadence Design Systems Inc, Mentor Graphics, and Synopsys Inc, all hail from the United States.

ProPlus Chairman and CEO Zhihong Liu once worked as a VP at Cadence Technologies while its director, Chenming Hu, once served as the CTO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC).

Spectrum Materials, based in the southern Chinese province of Fujian, makes gases critical for semiconductor fabs to produce physical chips. The sector is typically dominated by players in the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

China’s government has committed billions of dollars to help fund the domestic semiconductor industry, which it views as critical to catching up with the United States and other governments.

The stakes for such initiatives have increased after the United States imposed restrictions on American companies supplying to Huawei, China’s top telecommunications equipment provider and a leading chip maker in its own right.

Intel Capital has consistently invested in Chinese startups along with small chip companies from around the world. In 2019 and 2018 it announced investments in two Chinese chip startups.

This batch of announced investments comes days after Intel CEO Bob Swan wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Defense expressing readiness to build a chip fab in the United States, with the goal of ensuring U.S. technological leadership.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.