Preligens: An Important French AI Intelware Vendor May Be for Sale

April 3, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I profiled Preligens (formerly Earthcube), the French specialized software firm with quite remarkable smart software, in one of my lectures a couple of years ago. Preligens processes satellite imagery and uses its home-brew AI system to identify objects. When I was in Paris last year, I spoke with some of my former colleagues at Exalead (now a unit of Dassault Systèmes), acquaintances from my pre-retirement travels, and some individuals I met online. I picked up a couple of rumors. One was that Preligens had tuned its system to monitor the license tags and vehicle models of cars, busses, and trucks. When a vehicle made too many passes in front of a structure of interest, Preligens’ AI would note that event and send an alert. I am reluctant to include the screenshots of the capabilities of the Preligens’ system. When I presented information about the company at my law enforcement lectures, several people investigating big-money yachts asked for the company’s Web site. I could not provide a point of contact because one of Preligens’ sales professionals replied to me via email and then disappeared. Oh, well.


Thanks, MSFT Copilot. I asked for lights from the corner window. But no, MSFT knows best. So good enough.

Why am I mentioning a French outfit founded in 2016 when the buzz is emanating from Mistral, a hot AI startup?

One of the items of unsubstantiated information I picked up was that the company needed money, and it was for sale. I spotted “Preligens Announces Surrender And Issues Call For Bids For Acquisition” in one of my feeds. The write seemed to corroborate what I heard as rumor in Paris; namely, the company is for sale. The write up says in what appears to be machine-translated French:

…the founders of Preligens, Arnaud Guérin and Renaud Allioux, turned to Jean-Yves Courtois last year – appointing him president of the company – in the hope of turning things around….The echoes reports that Jean-Yves Courtois has launched a call for tenders from around twenty players for its takeover and hopes for tender submissions in mid-April. Thales and Safran also seem to have entered the race.

The challenge for Preligens is that the company is tightly bound to the French military and it is going to consummate a deal unless the buyer is an outfit which passes the scrutiny of the French bureaucracy. As one US government agency learned a couple of years ago, Preligens would not sell all or part of the company to a US buyer. The Franco-American kumbaya sounds good, but when it comes to high-value AI technology, the progress of the discussions moved like traffic around the Arc de Triomphe right after Bastille Day. (You absolutely must watch the Légion étrangère troop. Magnificent, slow, and a reminder that one does not fool around with dudes wearing aprons and kepis.)

A deal can be crafted, but it will take work. The Preligens’ AI system is outstanding and extensible to a number of intelware and policeware use cases. There are some videos on YouTube plus the firm’s Web site if you want more information. The military-oriented information is not on those public sources. If you see me at an appropriate conference, I may let you look through my presentation about identifying submarine pens in an area quite close to a US friendly nation. Oh, the submarine pen was previously unknown prior to Preligens’ smart software knitting together data from satellite imagery. That is impressive, but the system was able to estimate the size of the pen. Very cool.

Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2024


Got something to say?

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta