Secretive Silicon Valley unicorn “acquihires” Dutch data visualisation startup

Secretive Silicon Valley unicorn “acquihires” Dutch data visualisation startup

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Not long after Cloud9 got enrolled by Amazon’s AWS, another poster child for the 2010-founded-Amsterdam-startups-that-moved-to-Silicon-Valley took an offer from a tech behemoth. Silk, a Dutch visualisation startup founded by Salar al Khafaji and Lon Boonen, announced yesterday it was acquired by Palantir Technologies for a unknown figure. The secretive Palo Alto based, big data analytics company led by Alex Karp was co-founded by Paypal co-founder and earliest Facebook investor Peter Thiel.

Acquihire for Silk

It’s not hard to figure out this is an acquihire for Silk. As founder Salar al Khafaji writes:

“When we met the Palantir team, we realized that we could work on even bigger and more important data problems with an incredibly talented team – even if it meant no longer working on the Silk product. We decided to join Palantir because we believe we can achieve a larger impact there than we could at Silk alone.”

Around  €3 Million raised

Silk raised around an accumulated €3M in three rounds, from informals such as Hyves founder Floris Rost van Tonningen, but also powerhouse seed funds as NEA and Atomico. Although decently funded, it’s safe to assume money was running low, as the last round already closed in October 2013 – yes, almost three years ago. The startup had offices in Amsterdam and San Francisco.

Make data beautiful

Silk’s mission was to make data easy understandable and beautiful, offering a plug and play online tool to visualize data. Al Khafaji: “Over the last few years, we’ve worked relentlessly on a vision to help people structure, query, visualize and share data.” That will remain the goal under the wings of Palantir, no doubt.  From a big data standpoint, it makes sense for  unicorn Palantir to swallow the tiny startup to make it its data visualisation team, as the market increasingly looks to better showcase big data in an easy way.

Secretive unicorn

Palantir Technologies is one of the more secretive startups from Silicon Valley. It raised around $2 Billion, most notably from the CIA’s venture arm, and has its main clients in secret services and police forces such as FBI, NSA and LAPD. Currently, the company is number four on Fortune’s unicorn list of private companies with a valuation above $1 Billion. Palantir’s valuation is currently estimated at $20.5 Billion.

Image: Alex Karp, CEO Palantir Technologies – GongTo /