ARM’s technology might actually be the most widely used set of technologies in the computing and communications marketplace. Everything from IoT sensors and intelligent gateways, to servers, desktops and laptops, to smartphones and tablets incorporate ARM’s IP, chips and software. So it only stands to reason that Nvidia’s purchase of ARM will have a profound impact on the IoT and AI marketplaces. The story that follows does a deep dive into the history and background of the two companies, as well as ARM’s owner, SoftBank, and what it all means for the future of two very important global markets.
In 2016, Softbank acquired ARM Holdings for $32 billion. British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the deal as “in the national interest” and a vote of confidence in post-Brexit Britain, despite her warnings after the referendum that foreign takeovers would be subject to stricter scrutiny. The fall in the pound following the referendum left the UK currency nearly 30-percent lower against the Japanese yen, making ARM an attractive target.
As part of the deal, SoftBank agreed to keep Cambridge as the chip designer’s global headquarters for at least five years and increase the number of non-UK staff.
ARM is one of the crown jewels of the UK technology sector. The 29-year-old company, a spinoff from the now defunct Acorn Computers, rose from a small startup of 20 people to be the leader in mobile processor technology, employing more than 4,000 staff. The company has no factories nor inventory; instead, it licenses its technology to hundreds of companies worldwide. The company’s roster of clients includes household names such as Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm.
Indeed, all seemed well for ARM, but there has been many recent changes that have severely altered the course for the company.