Anyone who plays around with connected devices is probably familiar with the ESP 8266, a tiny chip from Espressif Systems, that sports Wi-Fi and a microcontroller and costs a fraction of what a similar chip from NXP or Atmel might cost. I have kept my eye on the company for a while because it was creating a Wi-Fi module that can cost less than $2 at scale. It now has two other modules for the internet of things that are also a hit.
While these chips have mostly been popular with tinkerers, now big companies are using the company's modules as well. I spoke with the CEOs of several cloud platforms to understand what silicon their customers were using and Espressif modules were by far the favorite.
Cyril Brignone, CEO of Arrayent, which works with companies like Proctor and Gamble, says that the module is only good if you have small applications to run on it, but at the price, it's putting a lot of pressure on established silicon vendors.
Espressif raised an undisclosed Series B round of funding in September led by Fosun Group with the participation of Haier SAIF and Midea Group. Keep an eye on it.