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30 May, 2018 - 11:01 By Tony Quested

Darktrace becomes Cambridge’s 16th $Bn business and No.17 is looming

Cyber defence technology specialist Darktrace has become the Cambridge UK cluster’s 16th billion dollar company and its fastest to achieve unicorn status.
It is the youngest surviving unicorn, having taken the record of telecoms pioneer Ionica which went bust in spectacular fashion after a mercurial rise and fall.

Darktrace is now valued at $1.25bn just five years after launch on June 10, 2013.

This follows an investment in the business by Vitruvian Partners and decisions by two early backers to unload some of their shares; combining to push Darktrace to the $1.25bn landmark.

The business has been backed from Day One by Cambridge technology investor Mike Lynch’s Invoke Capital venture, which also has its roots in the cluster.

Turnover rose 80 per cent in the last year recorded and has continued to hire fast and big on both sides of the Atlantic under the astute leadership of Nicole Eagan in the US and Poppy Gustafsson in the UK and EMEA.

Business Weekly predicted Darktrace’s surge to unicorn status a year ago after it won our Business of the Year Award.

It was only 12 months ago that the fertile Cambridge tech cluster gave birth to its 15th billion dollar business – virtual reality sensation Improbable – following a $500m investment round led by ARM’s new Japanese owner SoftBank.

Improbable had just been named by Cambridge Computer Laboratory svengali Andy Hopper as the Lab Ring’s company of the year; it was already in the Lab’s 257-strong Hall of Fame.

The business was founded by Cambridge computer science alumni Herman Narula (CEO) and Rob Whitehead (CTO) in 2012.

Its SpatialOS operating system is transforming capabilities across sectors as diverse as game development, smart city design, including transport networks, telecoms and monitoring of autonomous vehicles.

The platform enables third parties such as games developers and civil engineers and architects to build virtual worlds on a massive scale.

As Business Weekly has also recently flagged up, games developer Frontier Developments is a whisker away from becoming the17th $Bn business spawned in Cambridge from home-rooted IP.

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