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1 April, 2021 - 12:23 By Tony Quested

Full steam ahead for Darktrace IPO as top team blossoms

Cambridge-based cyber security world leader Darktrace has further strengthened its top team in preparation for its upcoming multi-billion dollar IPO.

The float date in the UK will be announced imminently as Darktrace continues to dominate the cyber-security sector through big-money contracts from the people to the Pope!

Darktrace has contracts with some of the world’s leading corporate & technology innovators, government defence agencies and influential organisations including Rolls-Royce. 

Cambridge’s youngest surviving unicorn, Darktrace recently announced that David Willetts had agreed to join the board a non-executive director. Lord Willetts was Minister for Universities and Science within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills from 2010 to 2014 and previously held roles within HM Treasury and the No 10 Policy Unit. 

Now the company has attracted a superbly qualified General Counsel and Company Secretary – James Sporle. He formerly served as Group General Counsel and Company Secretary at online food delivery company Just Eat plc, where he was instrumental in its transformation from pre-IPO business to the FTSE 100 and in subsequently navigating its merger with Takeaway.com. In 2020, James was shortlisted for The Lawyer’s General Counsel of the Year. 

Prior to Just Eat, James worked at BP plc, having qualified as a solicitor at Linklaters in 2001. He holds a Law degree from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

Darktrace provides comprehensive, enterprise-wide cyber defence to over 4,700 organisations worldwide, protecting the cloud, email, IoT, traditional networks, endpoints and industrial systems. Every second, Darktrace AI detects a cyber threat, preventing it from causing damage.

World-leading technology companies, including Cambridge superchip architect Arm and its potential acquirer NVIDIA, have recently stated that the best technology in the world will only be 100 per cent effective if security issues are effectively addressed.

As Darktrace prepares for what, on the upside, could be a $5 billion IPO, the company has been beset by often ill-researched pronouncements that potential backers have been deterred from supporting the float because of its association with tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch.

Dr Lynch is fighting allegations by HP that it was deluded in its takeover of Autonomy – claims engulfed in legal disputes on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
One of the claims that emerged recently was that the company could fall foul of The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 which provides for the confiscation or civil recovery of the proceeds from crime and contains the principal money laundering legislation in the UK. Firstly, Mike Lynch has been found guilty of nothing wrong and stoutly defends his position over the sale of Autonomy to HP. 

Sources close to the process have deemed the risk of the company falling foul of the Act as low and that it is not an issue for the company. 

Legal sources say the only money that might, theoretically, fall under the auspice of the Act is said to total £10k. That just happens to be the amount Dr Lynch invested in Darktrace when he first backed the business in 2013. Former intelligence officials from MI5 helped found the original company and raised no concerns.

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