Investors are betting on a rising player in the race to build computer chips for the fast-growing internet of things. 

SambaNova Systems has been valued at $2.5 billion in a new funding round, according to regulatory filings reviewed by PitchBook, making the company second only to China's Horizon Robotics as the most valuable semiconductor specialist in its field.

The valuation, 2.8x higher than what the company claimed in April, follows a $250 million Series C led by asset manager BlackRock. Existing investors GV, Intel Capital, Walden International, WRVI Capital and Redline Capital also participated in the round. 

A spokesperson for SambaNova declined to comment on the valuation.

Venture capital investors poured more than $1.3 billion into IoT hardware startups last year, primarily led by mega-rounds for Horizon, SambaNova and Vayyar Imaging, according to PitchBook's Internet of Things Q4 2019 report. Those investors are banking on an opportunity created by an explosion of smart devices, which grew from 15 billion in 2015 to 200 billion in 2020, according to Intel.

SambaNova's platform combines hardware with dedicated software to run AI and data-heavy tasks. The startup, which is based in Palo Alto and Austin, is creating hardware that can manage those applications on small edge computing devices and in datacenters.

The company's CEO is Rodrigo Liang, a former Oracle executive, who co-founded SambaNova with Stanford professors Kunle Olukotun and Chris Ré. Olukoton leads Stanford's Hydra Chip Multiprocessor project, and Ré is a MacArthur "genius grant" winner.

Last year, BlackRock participated in a $50 million round for AI startup C3.ai.

Featured image via Igor Kutyaev/iStock/Getty Images Plus

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