5 Palantir Acquisitions – A Closer Look
In a recent article we highlighted Palantir Technologies, the fourth highest valued private company today and the most revered “big data” player out there. In that article, we listed out 5 companies that Palantir has acquired over the last 3 years or so:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these 5 companies starting with their most recent purchase, Kimono Labs.
Founded in 2014, Kimono had taken in $5 million to develop a way to turn websites into structured APIs from your browser in seconds. You don’t need to write any code or install any software to extract data with Kimono. You just add the Kimono bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark bar. Then go to the website you want to get data from and click the bookmarklet. Select the data you want and Kimono does the rest. After just 2 years, over 125 thousand developers, data scientists, and businesses used the tool that is until now. Here’s what Kimono said:
Because of our new roles at Palantir, it will not be possible for us to continue providing the publicly available cloud hosted kimono product. Effective 2/29/2016 we will be shutting down the service. From that point forward users will no longer be able to log into kimonolabs.com services or access any data via the website or API endpoints. Although the kimono service will not be following us to Palantir, we know how many of you depend on kimono to run your businesses/projects, so we’ve decided to provide users with a light-weight desktop version of kimono to ease the transition.
That’s really nice of them. Let’s hope nobody built any business models around the use of this tool.
Founded in 2013, “Fancy That” is the name of a technology developed by 4 Stanford students under the umbrella of a company they called “FT Technologies”. While there doesn’t appear to be any information from CB Insights on funding for “Fancy That”, their website showed PejmanMar Ventures as a “partner”. You can read all about the background of PejmanMar Ventures and the founders of “Fancy That” in this Fortune article. Some of the founders don’t even look old enough to legally celebrate their acquisition with a glass of the bubbly:
This led to speculation that Palantir simply acquired the company for their talent (acqui-hire) as opposed to any finished product they had developed. Maybe Palantir should engage more with the career services team at Stanford and save themselves a few bucks.
Launched in 2012, Propeller had taken in $1.5 million to develop a web platform to quickly create and update apps with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. While the process to create an app has traditionally been intimidating and expensive, Propeller was developing a platform that would allow anyone to create an app with no coding experience required.
While Propeller had taken in just $1.25 million in funding, the investors who provided that money looked like a list of “who’s who in the VC funding world“. Right before they were acquired, Propeller was offering two solutions. One solution called “Shop” would let you quickly create a shopping app for your retail store. The other solution called “Pages” would let you turn your Facebook page into an app. It doesn’t look like they had a very big development team so their technology must have had some serious potential for such high profile investors to climb on board for such a small investment round.
Founded in 2012, Poptip raised $2.4 million to develop their conversation analysis platform which helps brands and media fully understand public opinion in real-time and make decisions quickly based on that opinion. Their real-time natural language processing tool called Zipline could be used to quickly analyze large volumes of Tweets such as in the below example:
They had also developed a tool called “Poptip Questions” which was a platform agnostic platform-agnostic solution to asking questions and getting answers which allowed publishers to engage their audiences in two-way conversations using social voting. Before Poptip was acquired, their customer list included L’Oreal, NBA, ESPN, NFL, Spotify, Budweiser and Yoplait.
Founded in 2012, Voicegem took in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop their platform, VoiceGem, which allowed you to send voice messages to anyone. Enter any number of email addresses, record a message as long as you want and your voice message or “gem” would be delivered to your recipients’ inboxes.
This article from Techcrunch details how the VoiceGem product wasn’t really taking off as it needed to for a viable business to be developed around it. Palantir acquired Voicegem solely for the human talent (another acqui-hire), relocated the development team, and actually retired the Voicegem product.
None of these 5 acquisitions by Palantir seem to qualify as large or costly transactions. In the case of “acqui-hires”, it doesn’t seem like you’d need that much cash to convince freshly minted graduates to join your firm. Merely being able to say that your “startup” was acquired by Palantir should be enough incentive for first time entrepreneurs to agree to retire their venture and join the most exciting big data startup there is today.
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