Banjo: What Did SoftBank Money Buy?

May 11, 2020

We completed an analysis of Banjo’s intellectual property. Note: the Banjo url ends in jo, not com. The company — despite its low, low profile since 2016 — has been a reasonably active policeware vendor. Is the activity directed at publicity? Expanding its sales force? Developing a platform comparable to Amazon’s sprawling policeware initiative?


The firm has been patenting and repatenting some of its ideas. A quick example is the method disclosed in a paper by one of Banjo’s first employees: “Lateral Thinking in Search Engines” by Yann Landrin-Schweitzer, et al, in Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, March 2006. You can locate a copy of this infrequently cited document at this link. Note: you may have to pay to view the document.

The ideas were evident in Banjo’s consumer app, which will not be discussed in this brief blog post, and again in the post-pivot patent documents.

The method, known for decades, was popularized by Endeca. The idea is to find, show, or leverage in some fashion related content. Some of the now disgraced search and retrieval evangelists called this “side search.”

For an example of Landrin-Schweitzer’s influence, check out US 8,341,223, Method for relevant content discovery. Since the patent document was filed in mid 2012, Banjo has made this method one of its key foundation stones.

What is interesting is that Landrin-Schweitzer left the company about the time the patent document was in process.

DarkCyber wants to point out that the “hot” technology powering the LiveTime unique capability is not particularly distinctive. Granted, Banjo has built a system which processes video and combines it with other inputs to generate alerts.

Nevertheless, the low profile adopted by the company may have been a way to reduce public scrutiny of what technology was the foundation for the interesting claims the company’s PR made.

I want to note that the DarkCyber research team tracked some of Banjo origin story to Jennifer Peck, worked at Banjo and who later married Mr. Patton. (Did the marriage or common sense stop the PR about Banjo which flowed in a steady stream until the end of 2015?)

Shifting gears the NASCAR way stabs the accelerator for more capital. SoftBank invested $100 million in Banjo in early 2016.

What is interesting is that the SoftBank due diligence process seems to have overlooked [a] some aspects about Mr. Patton and possibly the firm’s origin story, [b] Mr. Patton’s hackathon “wins” at a Google event and in an event held in China with “original” code, [c] and the firm’s core technology, [d] Landrin-Schweitzer’s contributions.

Mr. Patton’s trajectory from homeless waif in LA to the US Navy and military warfighting to NASCAR to construction to genius coder seems to be well crafted, almost like a feat of Baron Munchausen. The positioning of the company as one that wants to “save lives” could be a modern parable crafted on Madison Avenue to elevate the company above the likes of Palantir Technologies.

Wrapping the “good” cloth around surveillance technology is a PR plus to some. Plus, Banjo manifests Patton’s white knight accoutrements in the little known world of policeware applications. Also the factoids about Mr. Patton’s hard fought effort to obtain a college education and how a hitchhiking ride made an education possible could be inspiring to a befuddled and homeless youth. Does this remind anyone of a Jim Bakker? A modern version of a Horace Greeley tall tale?

Several questions:

  1. Are the other technology foundation stones unique and rock solid?
  2. How much of the technology embodied in Banjo is unique?
  3. What are the due diligence processes used by investment firms when facts suggest the founder’s past has not been vetted?

DarkCyber thinks that Banjo is an interesting firm. We have prepared a summary of Banjo’s intellectual property. If you are interested in learning more about this report, write

The May 12, 2020, DarkCyber video program has more Banjo related content. You can view that video at this link. Remember: No ads, no search engine optimization, no begging for dollars. Just information.

Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2020


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