A new chapter: Silicon Valley firm buys St. John’s tech company

A new chapter: Silicon Valley firm buys St. John’s tech company

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A bustling young St. John’s tech company has caught the eye of a big player in Silicon Valley. 

InspectAR — a company that created an app for designing and fixing circuit boards in real time using augmented reality — was acquired by Cadence Design Systems of San Jose, Calif., in a deal signed Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It’s just very exciting. We’ve been working so long, so hard for this and it just feels great to be bringing this to the next chapter,” said Nick Warren, one of InspectAR’s co-founders. 

The company was founded by graduates of Memorial University in 2019. In March it acquired $850,000 Cdn from backers in Silicon Valley to get the company off the ground and in addition to its St. John’s headquarters has an office in San Francisco. 

Warren says InspectAR will now have the reach and the resources of an 8,000-person company based in the world’s leading tech hub to pursue what Warren calls their “mission.”

“All the unseen hours, the 12-to-14-hour days — there’s been a lot that’s gone into the past year of building this up to get it to the point that it is now,” Warren said. 

“Our No. 1 mission is to make an impact, and it makes so much sense for the product and for our mission, so it’s really exciting to really make that bit of an impact on the engineering world.”

No slowing down

While many businesses and industries came to a near screeching halt on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warren said it was business as usual for InspectAR, aside from staff vacating their St. John’s office to work  from home. 

“With Mihir [Shah], our CEO in Silicon Valley, we were very much already doing remote bursts as an organization. So we were pretty quick to adapt to it,” said Warren. 

“Then we even realized as well all the customer demos, we always just did those over Zoom anyway so it really didn’t change much for us.” 

InspectAR’s app can tell you everything you need to know about chips such as this. (Douglas C. Pizac/Associated Press)

Building from home

In 2017 Warren and other co-founders of InspectAR were part of the Paradigm SpaceX Hyperloop team in a competition designed by tech billionaire Elon Musk for university students to enhance the way people travel.

The Paradigm team placed second in the competition, but Warren says the experience was the real prize. Members were awarded internships at a tech company in San Francisco, and while the idea for InspectAR was realized there the crew decided to build on it from home. 

With a new deal in place, Warren said InspectAR plans to continue to grow from St. John’s. 

“It’s a 10-second connection on a Zoom call, right? So it hasn’t been hard to stay connected in that way,” Warren said.

“Just the ecosystem in St. John’s, the tech ecosystem is so positive here. Everyone supports in building each other up, and there’s just no place we’d rather be.”

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