IONQ designs, manufactures and sells quantum computers. To date they have not actually sold a computer, but they do sell computing capacity accessible via AWS, GCP, and Azure. This is similar to the way Snowflake generates revenue. They reported that they have a number of prospective buyers of finished systems in both the government and commercial space. If I remember correctly, the sale of a machine is 9 figures. So, quantum computing is no longer just a laboratory experiment, it is an actual, usable machine.
I don’t really understand the technology, but I can briefly describe the primary benefits. To some extent, transit speed is faster in a quantum computer. Digital computers, irrespective of the processor, use electrons to carry information while quantum computers use photons. The speed of electrons through mostly copper is fast; light travels faster. I’m not sure how much of a differential there is, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that speed is a factor. However, the primary advantage quantum computing provides is the ability to solve heretofore intractable problems. For example, virtually all data encryption relies on the difficulty of determining the prime number factors used to generate a very large integer. This is relatively easy to do with a quantum computer. One would hope that isn’t the primary use case for these machines! The capability of a quantum computer is measured in a unit called qubits. Qubits do not add up linearly. Each additional qubit represents a doubling of capability. IonQ has modified this measure such they measure their machines in algorithmic qubits (AQ). The reason for this modification is to take fidelity into account. For example, the machine learning that supports a typical generative AI application doesn’t have a “correct” answer. There are myriad answers, all of which are valid, only some of those answers are more correct than others. I really don’t understand how an AQ value is determined, but there is no apparent dispute about it. In any case IonQ currently has machines that provide 25 AQ and they have a goal of achieving 29 AQ by the end of this year. As noted before, those four AQs represent a 16x increase in capability.
If you want more information about the technology and its application I suggest you take some time and browse the IonQ site (ionq.com).
IonQ has reported 7 quarters. Their most recent quarter, 1Q23, was reported on May 11. The reporting they provide is not extensive, but here are some financial numbers drawn from the quarterly reports (numbers a x1,000):
Revenue Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
2021 $0.13 $0.93 $0.23 $1.65
2022 $1.95 $2.61 $2.76 $3.81
YoY % Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
2021 - - - -
2022 1,462% 180% 1,081% 131%
IonQ provided some financial information prior to becoming a publicly traded company. Obviously, YoY percentage revenue growth over 1,000% isn’t very meaningful. In simple terms, investing in this company is pretty speculative, nevertheless, I have taken a 3.75% position in this IonQ. As I write this post the stock is trading at $10.77, up 4.25% since yesterday.