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 backing, Basemark grew its business to over $10 million and became profitable. Its customers include automakers and system-on-chip hardware companies. Basemark chair and founder Tero Sarkkinen said in an email that the company is leveraging its relationships across the automotive industry to create artificial intelligence and software that will help fuel the autonomous vehicle revolution.
I’ve followed Sarkkinen’s career for a while now. A gamer and serial entrepreneur, he helped create benchmarks such as 3D Mark for PC games at Futuremark. He also started Rightware to make tools for developers looking to create visual user interfaces for cars. This was 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 the background to render graphics in an efficient way, which turned out to be useful as flashy screens became big selling points in modern cars. Those screens are even more important in self-driving cars and cars that offer assistance to drivers. As an example, Basemark recently partnered with Japan’s Digital Media Professionals to create “smart mirrors” that can detect cars about to pass a vehicle. The software can also detect and classify potential hazards such as pedestrians, cars, and bikes. And it can 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 to United Laboratories in 2015 and two years later sold Rightware to Thundersoft. Sarkkinen and Arto Ruotsalainen started Basemark in 2015 to handle big data visualization for industrial markets. They bought Rightware’s benchmark business unit and began to focus on building tools for developers creating autonomous driving software. In 2016, the company developed a benchmark dubbed VRScore for virtual reality software, and in 2018 Basemark moved into autonomous driving software.
Last fall, Basemark appointed Keith Silverang to serve as CEO. The company has 50 employees and has raised about $9 million to date.