Quantum computer maker Rigetti to go public via $1.5 billion SPAC deal

By Jane Lanhee Lee

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Quantum computer maker Rigetti & Co Inc said on Wednesday it will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal that potentially values the combined company at $1.5 billion.

This is the second quantum computer hardware maker to announce going public this year using a blank-check, or special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Maryland-based IonQ listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. SPACs are shell companies that raise funds through an initial public offering to acquire a private company, which then becomes public as a result.

Rigetti said the merger with Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff-backed Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II Ltd will provide it with about $458 million in proceeds, including over $100 million in investments from funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc, Bessemer Venture Partners, Franklin Templeton, venture capital firm In-Q-Tel – backed by the Central Intelligence Agency – and some strategic partners including Palantir Technologies Inc.

Rigetti’s last funding was February last year when it raised $79 million in a round that was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bessemer. Andreessen Horowitz, Lux Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures and DCVC are also early investors in the Berkeley, California-based quantum computing firm.

Researchers believe quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers, potentially making possible tasks such as mapping complex molecular structures and chemical reactions to boosting the power of artificial intelligence.

While there is some debate about when quantum computers will be able to crack real-world problems, many companies are dedicating resources to ensure they are ready and investors have been flocking to quantum computing hardware and software startups. Big tech companies like Alphabet Inc, International Business Machines Corp, Honeywell International Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc have also been investing in the future computing technology.

(Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing)