AI chip firm Wave Computing emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Artificial intelligence chip designer Wave Computing Inc said on Monday it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following an auction of the company and will rebrand the firm as MIPS.

The company traces its origins back to MIPS Computer Systems Inc, cofounded more than 35 years ago by Stanford University professor John Hennessy, who is now chairman of Alphabet Inc. MIPS was the commercial home of an earlier academic effort to create an architecture for computer processors that remain in wide use today by firms such as Intel Corp’s Mobileye self-driving car unit.

Wave Computing filed for bankruptcy in April. It was revealed by bankruptcy filings and Reuters reporting that in late 2018 and 2019, the company licensed its core computing architecture for use in China, Hong Kong and Macau to a Shanghai-based firm, CIP United Co Ltd, in a complex series of transactions. The transactions occurred just as a chip war was escalating between the United States and China, which could have made it more difficult for Chinese firms to use MIPS’s technology.

According to two sources, CIP has kept the scope of that license even as the company emerges from bankruptcy. CIP was not immediately available for comment. Wave Computing was not immediately able for comment on the CIP license.

Wave Computing said Tallwood Venture Capital won the auction with a bid valued at $61 million and has sole ownership of the company. It also said two previous Chinese investors, Alibaba Investment Limited and venture capital fund Canyon Bridge Fund I, are no longer shareholders. The former is the investment arm of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Wave Computing also said it will further develop its chip architecture based on the open source RISC-V architecture, which has attracted attention from Chinese companies who see it as a path forward for China’s chip independence as it is not controlled by any company or government.

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee in Oakland, Calif.; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Matthew Lewis