Basemark, a maker of graphics software for autonomous vehicles, has raised $7.9 million in funding.
ETF Partners was the sole investor in the round, which will be used to accelerate Basemark’s growth in autonomous vehicles. Basemark has created the Rocksolid Engine, a real-time graphics and compute software solution for industrial applications.
In just a few years and with no institutional money invested to date, Basemark grew its business to over $10 million and became profitable. Its customers include car makers and system-on-chip hardware companies. Tero Sarkkinen, chairman and founder of Basemark, said in an email that the company is leveraging its relationships across the car industry to create artificial intelligence and software that will help fuel the autonomous vehicle revolution.
I’ve followed Sarkkinen’s career as a serial entrepreneur for a while. He was a gamer who created benchmarks such as 3D Mark for PC games at Futuremark. He started Rightware to create tools for developers to create visual user interfaces for cars at a time when the auto industry was finally catching up with the computer era and getting better displays for dashboard information.
Sarkkinen’s team had roots in knowing how to render graphics in an efficient way, and that turned out to be useful in cars as flashy screens became big selling points in modern cars. Those screens are even more important in self-driving cars or cars that offer assistance to drivers. As an example, Basemark recently partnered with Japan’s Digital Media Professionals to create smart mirrors, or the software needed to use mirrors to detect cars that are about to pass a vehicle. It can also detect and classify objects such as pedestrians, cars, and bikes. It can also render augmented reality assistance, trigger alerts, and flash warning graphics.
I had a cup of fine coffee with Sarkkinen in a cafe in Helsinki on the icy shore of the Gulf of Finland during one of the Slush events in 2013. He sold Futuremark in 2015 to United Laboratories, and he sold Rightware in 2017 to Thundersoft. In 2015, Sarkkinen and Arto Ruotsalainen started Basemark to handle big data visualization for industrial markets. They bought Rightware’s benchmark business unit, and then began focusing on developing tools for developers creating autonomous driving software. In 2016, the company developed a benchmark dubbed VRScore for virtual reality software, and in 2018 the company moved into autonomous driving software.
Last fall, Basemark appointed Keith Silverang as CEO of the company. The company has 50 employees, and it has raised about $9 million to date.