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AMD To Acquire Pensando For $1.9B Amid Surging Semiconductor Deals

Chipmaker AMD announced Monday it agreed to acquire Pensando, a developer of programmable processors used in cloud computing, in a transaction valued at around $1.9 billion.

Milpitas, California-based Pensando previously raised at least $313 million in known venture funding, per Crunchbase data. The company, co-founded by former Cisco CEO John Chambers, launched in 2017 but operated in stealth mode until 2019. Lead backers include Qualcomm Ventures, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The deal comes on the heels of several extraordinarily busy quarters for venture investment and M&A dealmaking in the semiconductor space. In 2021, the industry saw an unprecedented amount of venture capital—as well as one of its biggest M&A years ever.

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VC-backed semiconductor startups—which includes everything from chipmakers to design firms to hardware developers—saw more than $6.4 billion in funding last year, Crunchbase numbers show. That’s the most in at least five years and easily bests the $3 billion seen in 2020.

The pace of acquisitions was also brisk.  Last year saw 54 M&A deals in the semiconductor space, the most since 2015 when there were 56, according to Crunchbase data.

It should be noted that not all announced deals come to fruition. One of the biggest proposed mergers ended In February, when Nvidia abandoned plans for a $40 billion acquisition of semiconductor company Arm after the FTC moved to block the deal.

As for AMD, the Pensando purchase comes less than two months after completion of its largest purchase to date—the acquisition of Xilinx, a semiconductor company specializing in programmable logic devices. That deal, first announced in October 2020, was estimated to be a $50 billion transaction.

Prior to that AMD had not historically been a particularly acquisitive company for most of its 44-year history. However, it did make at least five known acquisitions between 2002 and 2020, per Crunchbase data. Prices were not disclosed, but none look to be big-ticket purchases based on prior funding.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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