Qualcomm’s longer-term bet on the automotive sector as a lucrative customer base for its chips and related communications technology is getting a big push today: the company announced that it is acquiring Automatic callsa fables chipmaker from Israel building semiconductor and system-on-a-chip technology to help with automotive safety; sources tell us that Qualcomm is paying between $350 million and $400 million for the startup.
Autotalks’ technology is used in sensors that assist vehicles (which could be bicycles, cars, or any other form of mobility) and their drivers detect road hazards, such as oncoming vehicles in a driver’s blind spot; it also communicates with other vehicles using compatible technology to improve responsiveness. Qualcomm said the plan will be to integrate Autotalks’ V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications technology into its mobility-focused Snapdragon Digital Chassis portfolio.
The financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed, but a source close to the deal tells us it is a $350-$400 million deal. We’ve reached out to Qualcomm for comment and will update as we learn more.
Founded in 2009, Autotalks has raised $110 million, according to data Pitch book. Many backers included a number of strategic investors such as Samsung, Hyundai and Toyota, as well as financial backers such as Gemini Israel and Magma Venture Partners.
Qualcomm’s has had an interesting boost in its automotive business so far, with customers including VW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Honda and Stellantis. In September last year it claimed a $30 billion “design-win pipeline” in the automotive sector — though that’s a longer-term idea than a solid concept. In more hard numbers, the QCT division (CDMA’s core business for mobile and wireless chips and related technology) saw auto sales of $975 million in FY21 and $1.3 billion in FY22.
It’s not too much of a surprise that Qualcomm brings in a company like Autotalks. In the world of advanced automotive technology, safety has become one of the most important issues, but also one of the most lucrative opportunities in building autonomous and driver-assisted systems. As a primary feature and solution most likely to be used by customers, it is also becoming one that automakers are likely to invest in when designing newer car models, regardless of longer timelines for fully autonomous systems. Strengthening Qualcomm’s capabilities and product range in this area is therefore a logical next step.
“We have been investing in V2X research, development and deployment since 2017 and believe that as the automotive market matures, a standalone V2X safety architecture will be required for improved road user safety, as well as smart transportation systems,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president & GM, automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement. “We share Autotalks’ decades of experience and dedication to building V2X technologies and products with a focus on solving real road safety challenges. We look forward to working together to deliver global V2X solutions that will help accelerate time to market and enable mass market adoption of this critically important safety technology.”
“It has been our mission to revolutionize safety for the transportation and automotive industries through our V2X solutions,” added Hagai Zyss, CEO of Autotalks. “We are convinced that by combining our knowledge and expertise we will not only deliver strong V2X products that will improve transport efficiency and safety for road users, but also accelerate the widespread adoption of V2X. We look forward to working with Qualcomm to serve the automotive industry and bring the best technologies to market.”