I hoped that Nuvia, given its great team of ex-Apple CPU architect engineers, would maintain its independence and become a full-fledged competitor in the desktop and server market. Instead, they sold to a company that is often described as "the Oracle of hardware companies" and "a law firm with a few engineers".
If I had to guess, Nuvia's expertise will be used to optimize Qualcomm's ARM, Adreno and Hexagons for the next generation of Snapdragon cx. Qualcomm and Microsoft dipped their toe into this market and now that Apple is all-in, they need an answer to the M1. They won't get there with reference designs from ARM.
But once they're producing optimized ARMs for SoC apps processors, who's to say that they couldn't re-enter the server space?
This nails it! I blogged about how the expected Geekbench scores for Nuvia were better than M1
Nuvia was aiming for the server space but Qualcomm probably saw an opportunity to leapfrog many generations of in-house design and catch up to A and M series chips from Apple.
For reference - Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 888 flagship lacks behind 2019 Apple A13
Reading that article was a distinctly unpleasant experience.
Didn't Qualcomm beat out a ton of competitors?
They got lucky and a handful of their early patents became required parts of early cellular standards. Since then they've lobbied the standards bodies to include features that require their newest patents. When that fails, because the mobile manufacturers are tired of Qualcomm's monopoly, they simply buy up more patents to make up the difference.
Yet, they recovered, and clawed back their way to the top, with only MediaTek now threatening them.
I don't expect MediaTek to be as inept, and Pavlovian if Qualcomm will ever come to them with a deal, as they did with Allwinner 8 years ago (Allwinner gave up on mobile market, and Qualcomm gave them an obscene cut from their low-end Snapdragons in return.)
And knowing Taiwanese, they simply don't sell companies owners spent their life working on. Very ego driven business culture.
Nuvia has shown  they have designs with Pref Per Watts that rivals or exceed Apple's current A14. Normally these sort of pre-design and slides should be taken with a big pinch of salt from Startup. But this is from Gerard Williams, ARM Fellow and Architect of all current Apple CPU design. So i think they are plausible.
The improvement in Single Thread Performance is what Qualcomm desperately needs for their SnapDragon SoC. It will also reboot their ARM on Server work now that Apple and Amazon has the ball rolling.
Tremendous respect for CEO Steven Mollenkopf, retiring later this summer.
Your linked article 1) doesn't mention A14, and 2) only contains a marketing image for something that didn't yet exist. It doesn't appear like they _showed_ anything. Did you mean to link to a different article?
Edit: I am wondering about older companies more than startups (presumably it is more common for startups that look like failing but are actually on brink of success).
But in Qualcomm's case they were arguably undervalued because of ongoing regulation/lawsuits regarding their licensing practices. IIRC they had shipped their Amberwing Centriq CPU but the reception was kinda lukewarm.
AWS ended up introducing Graviton not long after - presumably AWS wouldn't have sourced Centriq if they had their own designs in the works.
Do they hold the record for the fastest and most profitable exit?
Not my area of expertise by a long shot, but Qualcomm and Apple are not strangers in court and acquiring a slew of ex-Apple CPU engineers is probably like trowing gas on that fire.
What I mean is, what are the chances of new ones in light of this acquisition? Or is this old one not settled yet and it’s still the same case?
I feel like 202x might be another decade where no new chip making companies emerge. I had great hopes for Nuvia becoming one of them. My first most primitive reaction is that this is like another PA Semi: great talent & new prospects, fresh air, vanishing into one of the super-massive existing players.
Qualcomm does some open source work, but most of the support comes from outside engineers reverse engineering their products or otherwise doing the work. The Freedreno graphics driver for example allows their gpu to be used (OpenGL, Vulkan drivers), & has been a huge effort. That work mostly comes from Google engineers like Rob Clark (who started Freedreno iirc), Eric Anholt, Igalia engineers like Danil, & countless others.
In the wifi-router world, where Qualcomm also has a huge presence, we rely on hunting around for open-source code drops of what usually seems like pretty old but better than we've got code, such as this recent find, which is hopefully going to help us catch a couple years up in support level to what Qualcomm is doing today.
Nuvia explicitly stated they wanted to chase hyperscaler market. And I think a lot of this was positioning. That hyper-scalers wanted good tech, would use good tech. Where-as a lot of the world, they want what they have but better, a lot of legacy concerns, hand holding. Nuvia wanted to build a new platform, a good, well supported platform, with next-gen technologies. We were all expecting open-source perhaps Rust-based firmwares & management systems, pursuant to latest OpenCompute Project specs &c. They were clear about targetting hyper-scalers, & big chips, but somehow the hope always was that they'd help reform & reshape computing & what was available to everyone. They certainly talked the good game, sounded real good on Twitter. Ah well.
Are there other companies able to produce promising cores/any that could develop a serious M1 competitor?
Was this acquisition mostly fueled by M1 hype (i.e. "Cortext chips are just fine")?
In this case, it looks like they did a $50M Series A and a $240M Series B. IIRC, 5x is respectable, but I can imagine the VCs might be on multipliers here and eat away quite a bit of the common stock.
They probably got equivalent to staff engineer rsu refresher.