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With Softbank's Booster Shot, Arm Expands Employee Ranks

Arm added to its engineering ranks in recent months, more than a year after Softbank acquired it for $32 billion. The hires are sure to help Arm’s efforts in fields like artificial intelligence and computer vision as well as increase its pace in the Internet of Things market.

The hires also fit the ambitious plans of Softbank’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, who has vowed to financially fuel Arm’s move beyond smartphones, where for years it has quashed competition from Intel. It is slowly but surely transitioning into cars and factory equipment as well as supercomputers and corporate data centers.

Last week, Softbank’s quarterly results showed that Arm’s headcount rose by 330 employees in the three months from May to July. That's an increase of 6.8% over the previous quarter. The company said that the hires were “mainly engineers” and that it had started paying its staff through a new “performance-linked incentive program.”

The hires were first reported by Bloomberg.

The changes to headcount and compensation tamped down Arm’s earnings. The company reported a loss of $62 million with revenues of $428 million, down from $409 million in the previous quarter. Arm reaped royalties from 4.7 billion chips sold using its technology, 28% more than were sold in last year's first quarter

The results included $120.4 million of operating expenses related to the acquisition, which was the second largest in the chip industry when announced last June. Based in the United Kingdom, Arm typically sells basic blueprints from which suppliers build their own chips. Customers range from giants like Qualcomm to semiconductor start-ups.

Arm is targeting 3,200 employees in the United Kingdom by 2021, twice its headcount in the country at the time of the deal. In February, its chief executive Simon Segars said it had already hired a few hundred. Its headcount was around 1,000 in the United States, where it also aims to grow.

Arm has also likely absorbed staff from recent acquisitions, which have targeted wireless connectivity and security for the Internet of Things. These have been new fields for Arm, which in the first quarter signed 41 new licenses with customers making everything from sensors to machine learning accelerators.

Son has predicted that four out of every five chips sold in the next twenty years would capture, share, process, and make insights about their surroundings using Arm chips. That translates into more than a trillion devices for cars, brain implants, and other gadgets. Arm says that its technology has been shipped in over 100 billion chips since its 1991 founding.

Arm, which has stayed in shadows cast by customers, is new to the limelight. Qualcomm and others have battled with Intel, whose x86 architecture fueled the personal computer revolution. Qualcomm, whose mobile processors are based on Arm’s blueprints, reported chip revenue of $4.05 billion in its latest quarterly earnings.

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