Palantir in US$20 bn valuation for data analysis

The CIA-backed big data analysis firm Palantir is raising some US $500 million (£317 million) which would double the company's valuation over the last year and a half to US$20 billion (£12.7 billion) according to Buzzfeed, making it the third highest-valued startup in the US, after Uber (US$50 billion (£32 billion) and Airbnb (US$24 billion/£15 billion). It is reported to have US$1 billion (£634 million) in cash after seeing business double in the last year.

Cofounders of the 11 year old firm include billionaire investor Peter Thiel, chief executive Alex Karp, ex-PayPal venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, (now VC firm Foundation 8); Nathan Gettings; and Stephen Cohen. Investors include Thiel's Founders Fund, 137 Ventures, and Reed Elsevier Ventures as well as funding from In-Q-Tel, the CIA's not-for-profit venture capital firm; initially the firm built up by serving the CIA, NSA, FBI and at least nine other government agencies. Karp had said in 2013 that taking the company public would make running a company like Palantir “very difficult”.

Palantir's users are able to query their data with natural language and get results in real-time, and the customer base has expanded internationally as well as from government agencies into the private sector.

In an email to SCMagazineUK.com, Etienne Greeff, CEO at SecureData, which owns a 25 percent stake in rival big data outfit, Maltego, said he believes the announcement demonstrates just how integral intelligence has become to security strategies, regardless of the industry. Maltego is also believed to be used by a range of government agencies including intelligence and law enforcement.

Greeff comments: “This announcement is more than just a valuation, it's indisputable proof that security analytics is core to both commercial entities and Government agencies in the fight against cyber-crime. Threat intelligence has developed to become a focal point in organisations' security strategy; combined with smart people and proven methodologies.

He added: “Some companies though are failing to harness the potential of threat intelligence, which is why it is perceived by some as 'snake oil'. But the right combination of people, process and technology like this provides a potent defence mechanism. The $20 billion valuation of Palantir is testament to this and demonstrates that the age of data-driven security has arrived – where security decisions are informed by what the data is telling us rather than security fear, uncertainty and doubt pedlars.”

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