Palantir Acquires Data Visualization Specialist Silk

Analytics software and consulting provider Palantir has acquired Silk, a data visualization startup. Silk's platform will continue to operate unsupported as the company's team will join Palantir.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor

August 12, 2016

3 Min Read
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Palantir, the privately-held data and analytics software and consulting company co-created by PayPal cofounder Peter Theil, is filling out its data visualization development team with the acquisition of startup Silk.

The deal, announced on the startup's blog, keeps Silk's cloud-based data visualization service available and free to users, albeit unsupported. The team behind the technology will all move over to Palantir.

"Because of our new roles at Palantir, will operate 'as is' and we will not be able to provide technical or customer support to new or existing Silk accounts any longer, nor will we be doing any more development work or adding new features to the hosted product," wrote Salar al Khafaji, CEO and cofounder of Silk, in the Aug. 10 blog post announcing the deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Silk has dual headquarters in Amsterdam and San Francisco, and according to Crunchbase currently operates with between 11 and 50 employees.

[Palantir cofounder and backer Peter Thiel has endorsed Donald Trump for US president, but plenty of his Silicon Valley contemporaries disagree with him. Read Tech Leaders Slam Donald Trump in Open Letter.]

Silk's free platform looks a lot like data visualization provider Tableau's public platform, and provides the technology and platform to enable individuals and organizations to upload their data, and to create and publish data visualizations or "Silks."

The company's site features a gallery of such visualizations including ones named World Wide Soccer Salaries, Stack Overflow Careers, City Dogs Rescue, Data Science Job Boards, Google Fiber Cities, and Women CEO and Board Members.

"We're proud of the product and community we built, and of all the data journalists, activists, NGOs, businesses, and many other kinds of people that were able to find important insights and tell great data stories through Silk," Khafaji wrote.

"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."

The development talent that created the Silk platform will now start new careers at the secretive Palantir, a software developer and consulting firm that has a close relationship with US intelligence agencies.

Some news reports have said that the company has lost some big commercial clients in the last year.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics 2015 report described Palantir's as "a next-generation analytical platform that blends machine learning with human intuition, enabling end users to intuitively ask questions of the data using their own mental model."

Gartner didn't rank Palantir on the Magic Quadrant because "Palantir isn't really a competitor to most of the vendors on this Magic Quadrant; instead it is a complement and focuses on more complex analytic solutions and is therefore not seen as a mainstream analytic provider ..."

Gartner's 2016 version of this Magic Quadrant did not mention Palantir.

Palantir is no stranger to acquisitions. The company acquired and shuttered Kimono Labs, the free public API and web-scraping tool company, earlier this year. The tool itself was available for users to download, but the public cloud hosting of the tool, along with any customer support, was shut down.

Other Palantir acquisitions include Fancy That, Propeller, Poptip, and Voicegem.

About the Author(s)

Jessica Davis

Senior Editor

Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: @jessicadavis.

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