Early Google Investor to Help Bring Quantum Computing to Markets

  • Grupo Arcano invests up to $50 million in Cambridge tech firm
  • Quantum computers may revolutionize financial-market modeling

One of the original investors in Google Inc. has turned his attention to quantum computing, a technology that may unlock the secrets of the universe. Back on Earth, it could revolutionize Wall Street.

The founder of private-equity company Grupo Arcano plans to invest up to $50 million in Cambridge Quantum Computing Ltd., according to a person familiar with the company’s funding who declined to be identified, citing confidentiality. Quantum computers may be able to solve problems that are impossible using existing technology. They could transform modeling in financial markets, and lead to massive improvements in cryptography.

Santiago-based Grupo Arcano’s Alberto Chang-Rajii made his wealth by buying a stake in Google in 1996. The private-equity firm is also an investor in Snapchat Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc.

Cambridge Quantum Computing is developing an operating system -- think Windows 10 for a new generation of super computers -- using a simulated processor in a laboratory in Cambridge, England. While it’s early days for such computers, their proponents say they would revolutionize everything from finance to medicine to space travel.

Quantum computers differ from the device you’re using to read this story because they use qubits, which may have a value of 1, 0 or both values simultaneously, rather than bits, according to NASA’s website. A traditional bit, used in the current generation of super computers as well as iPhones, must have a value of 1 or 0. Quantum computers may, in theory, solve some problems in a matter of days that would take millions of years on a classical computer, NASA says.

Cambridge Quantum Computing was co-founded by Ilyas Khan, leader in residence at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and chairman of The Stephen Hawking Foundation. Chang-Rajii will join Cambridge Quantum Computing board as deputy chairman, the person familiar said.

Other companies are already developing quantum computers. D-Wave Systems Inc., founded in 1999, has built a superconducting computer with a processor that is cooled close to absolute zero, or -273.15 degrees Celsius, colder than outer space. NASA is experimenting with the technology to understand whether it may be used “to perform calculations that are difficult or impossible using conventional supercomputers.”

Grupo Arcano was not immediately available for comment.

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