Natural Language Processing for National Security Startup Primer Raises $110M
Natural language processing (NLP) technology developer Primer has closed a $110 million Series C funding round led by venture capital firm Addition. The startup focuses on providing services to the U.S. national security network and unveiled plans to bring its platform to more of the U.S. government as part of a partnership with Palantir Technologies.
Primer offers a platform for NLP that can process a huge amount of data and analyze it for useful information. The company’s AI is used to transcribe, scrutinize, and parse spoken or written words not only in English but in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. That makes it very useful to security agencies facing an endless deluge of information that no group of humans could analyze effectively in a reasonable amount of time. Scaling up requires the use of advanced AI. Primer’s platform is now used for all sorts of large-scale security projects, like spotting campaigns spreading deliberate disinformation for the U.S. Air Force and Special Operations Command.
“Serving our National Security needs has been a core part of our DNA from Day 1, and the rollout of our NLP technology is having a significant impact. Primer solves information overload by making it easier for intelligence analysts, operators, and decision-makers to use all the information available to them to drive situational awareness and operations,” Primer CEO Sean Gourley explained in a blog post about the funding. “Intelligence teams use Primer to compile comprehensive briefings, monitor global events in real-time, identify disinformation, extract insights from massive caches of data, and much more. For government customers, I’m proud to say that Primer is helping drive quick, accurate, and data-driven decisions that can save lives.”
The partnership with Palantir extends that mission to a broader array of government organizations with their own mountains of data to comb through quickly. Primer also released a version of its platform for Microsoft Azure for the most delicate intelligence work. Primer’s platform will be incorporated into the classified data analysis supported by Azure. Because the company works on national security, Primer restricts its customer base to the U.S. and its allies.
Addition was joined by new investors, Steadfast, Sands Capital, former Ambassador-at-Large and U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Hank Crumpton for the latest funding round. Previous investors have included In-Q-Tel (IQT), the venture capital arm of the U.S. intelligence community. The new money will be used to expand the platform’s features with Spanish and other languages and open new Singapore and London offices. Primer is also looking at new industries like finance and healthcare to become part of the company’s portfolio. The recently launched Primer Automate, which doesn’t require any coding for building and training NLP models, is aimed squarely at that market.
“NLP is undergoing a revolution as new AI breakthroughs push the boundaries of machine performance in reading and writing tasks,” Gourley wrote. “We are now able to build machines that can achieve human level performance (HLP) in many different language tasks – from information extraction, to document classification to summarization. This $110 million investment will allow us to continue to develop our core technology, and build larger and better performing language models as we push the boundaries of what is possible in NLP.”