Introducing Axelera AI’s New Advisor, Andreas Hansson
Andreas Hansson joined Axelera AI as an advisor last month. Andreas is an angel investor in several start-ups and serves on the board of several public companies. He will advise us on technology, market trends, and computing and artificial intelligence investment opportunities. To commemorate Andreas joining our team, we hosted a short interview to learn more about his background.
Andreas, thank you for joining us today. Before we jump into your career and accomplishments, can you tell us a bit more about you personally?
As a kid, I was always encouraged to be curious and inquisitive, and it has been a constant theme throughout my life. I spent much of my childhood taking things apart and making new things. I think it was this curiosity that sparked my interest in technology from a young age. I loved learning how something worked, building on it, or creating something different. To a large extent, it’s still what I love doing most today.
That curiosity has taken you to many great places. Why did you move from research into investment?
Thank you. Research is hugely exciting, and I enjoy the thrill of expanding my horizons with new technologies and innovations. Sometimes it can get detached from reality, though – it’s possible to get too focused on technology for technology’s sake. Getting more involved in the business decisions guiding the research and M&A activities grounded me in the purpose of all that research. I started to see that investment is a natural progression, and I love that it allows me to dive into all the aspects of a business. It’s a great place to be for a full-circle view.
You worked for two worldwide leaders in two completely different fields: first Arm, the biggest IP company in the world, and then Softbank, the largest VC in the world. What are the most important lessons you learned in these two experiences?
Arm taught me the value of partnership. The company’s astonishing success comes from, and still relies on, trust within the ecosystem. That trust and partnered work permeate the whole organisation. As a result, Arm is very collaborative, both internally and externally, and for me, it was a fantastic learning platform with tons of support.
One of my key takeaways from SoftBank was the power of thinking big and asking, “what if…?” It lit up the same inquisitive nature I had as a child. In some of my previous roles in engineering, I found myself getting a little too pragmatic and level-headed – important in some cases but stunting in others. Within SoftBank and the Vision Fund, I was surrounded by people pushing the envelope and truly thinking outside the box.
More and more startups are trying to enter the computing and AI semiconductor markets, proposing new architectures which always claim to be way more efficient and powerful than the incumbents. What is your opinion about this? Is there any secret sauce to succeed in this market?
Computing is permeating everything in our lives and is ever-evolving to deliver the right power/performance trade-off for each use case. For the same reasons, we are also seeing more changes in how computing systems are built, with novel architectures, technologies, manufacturing methods, etc. These developments present fantastic opportunities for startups to innovate and show what is possible. I actually think there are not enough semiconductor startups and also not enough semiconductor-focused DeepTech VCs.
After years of large investment rounds, it seems like the venture capital market is undergoing a correction. What is your opinion about this? What is the outlook for the coming 24 months?
VC activity is merely reflecting what’s happening in the markets broadly. I’m not surprised that priorities are shifting as everyone is working out what the world will look like going forward. While it will likely be a more challenging environment, and valuation expectations will come down, the next 24 months should ultimately present good investment opportunities for VCs.
What do you suggest to early-stage startups to do in this uncertain time when raising money?
The best thing startups can do is stay on top of their spending. If possible, secure 18-24 months of runway. Consider prioritising profitability instead of growth, and at the very least, work out a route to positive unit economics.
You recently departed from Softbank for a new great adventure – what is that?
Yes! I’m launching 2Q Ventures, a dedicated quantum computing fund in partnership with my stellar team. While I enjoy late-stage investment and my public-company board work, I’ve stayed really passionate about frontier technology, and helping visionaries transform the world. 2Q Ventures gives me a framework for doing exactly that while accelerating development and building up an ecosystem.
Quantum computing is an exciting field. When do you think quantum computing technology will become accessible to enterprises? Which market sector do you expect will be an early adopter of commercial quantum computing?
Excitingly, enterprises can already access quantum computers on the cloud through services like Amazon Braket. However, due to limited scale and relatively high noise rates, quantum computers don’t have a commercial advantage yet. That said, the progress is incredible. We also see signs of a virtuous circle, similar to machine learning in the mid 2000s, with technology progress leading to more investment, which in turn is getting more people involved, helping broaden the talent pool and seed new startups in the field, which in turn accelerates the next generation of achievements. It’s the perfect recipe for acceleration over the next few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a true commercial advantage in areas like quantum simulation in the same time frame.