Thiel and Palantir: Big Play or Not?

August 19, 2016

I read “This Company is Billionaire Peter Thiel’s Biggest Holding.” I am not certain if the write up is a rah rah for a savvy investor or a prognostication about the risks of investment concentration.

The subject is Peter Thiel, investment wizard, and Palantir Technologies. I associate Mr. Thiel with Hulk Hogan, which may be an indication of my own shallowness. I associate Palantir Technologies with its legal dust up with i2 Group (a former client, by the way) and the legal spat with the US Army.

The write up points out:

Late last year, Palantir raised nearly $900 million in a round that valued the company at $20 billion. That makes Palantir the fifth-most valuable start-up in the world, after Uber, Xiaomi, Didi Chuxing, and Airbnb.

That’s good.

But the company may be overvalued. The write up asserts:

If Palantir does go public, it could propel his net worth to new heights.

The write up does not address what happens if Palantir’s value falls and the company does not enter into an initial public offering.

That’s a good question. Perhaps a financial black eye will result? What happens if the legal hassle with US Army is resolved in a way that leaves Palantir Technologies out in the cold?

No answers to these unasked questions. But the write up’s headline is a barn burner even if the information payload is a wet noodle.

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2016

Yippy Revealed: An Interview with Michael Cizmar, Head of Enterprise Search Division

August 16, 2016

In an exclusive interview, Yippy’s head of enterprise search reveals that Yippy launched an enterprise search technology that Google Search Appliance users are converting to now that Google is sunsetting its GSA products.

Yippy also has its sights targeting the rest of the high-growth market for cloud-based enterprise search. Not familiar with Yippy, its IBM tie up, and its implementation of the Velocity search and clustering technology? Yippy’s Michael Cizmar gives some insight into this company’s search-and-retrieval vision.

Yippy ((OTC PINK:YIPI) is a publicly-trade company providing search, content processing, and engineering services. The company’s catchphrase is, “Welcome to your data.”

The core technology is the Velocity system, developed by Carnegie Mellon computer scientists. When IBM purchased Vivisimio, Yippy had already obtained rights to the Velocity technology prior to the IBM acquisition of Vivisimo. I learned from my interview with Mr. Cizmar that IBM is one of the largest shareholders in Yippy. Other facets of the deal included some IBM Watson technology.

This year (2016) Yippy purchased one of the most recognized firms supporting the now-discontinued Google Search Appliance. Yippy has been tallying important accounts and expanding its service array.


John Cizmar, Yippy’s senior manager for enterprise search

Beyond Search interviewed Michael Cizmar, the head of Yippy’s enterprise search division. Cizmar found MC+A and built a thriving business around the Google Search Appliance. Google stepped away from on premises hardware, and Yippy seized the opportunity to bolster its expanding business.

I spoke with Cizmar on August 15, 2016. The interview revealed a number of little known facts about a company which is gaining success in the enterprise information market.

Cizmar told me that when the Google Search Appliance was discontinued, he realized that the Yippy technology could fill the void and offer more effective enterprise findability.  He said, “When Yippy and I began to talk about Google’s abandoning the GSA, I realized that by teaming up with Yippy, we could fill the void left by Google, and in fact, we could surpass Google’s capabilities.”

Cizmar described the advantages of the Yippy approach to enterprise search this way:

We have an enterprise-proven search core. The Vivisimo engineers leapfrogged the technology dating from the 1990s which forms much of Autonomy IDOL, Endeca, and even Google’s search. We have the connector libraries THAT WE ACQUIRED FROM MUSE GLOBAL. We have used the security experience gained via the Google Search Appliance deployments and integration projects to give Yippy what we call “field level security.” Users see only the part of content they are authorized to view. Also, we have methodologies and processes to allow quick, hassle-free deployments in commercial enterprises to permit public access, private access, and hybrid or mixed system access situations.

With the buzz about open source, I wanted to know where Yippy fit into the world of Lucene, Solr, and the other enterprise software solutions. Cizmar said:

I think the customers are looking for vendors who can meet their needs, particularly with security and smooth deployment. In a couple of years, most search vendors will be using an approach similar to ours. Right now, however, I think we have an advantage because we can perform the work directly….Open source search systems do not have Yippy-like content intake or content ingestion frameworks. Importing text or an Oracle table is easy. Acquiring large volumes of diverse content continues to be an issue for many search and content processing systems…. Most competitors are beginning to offer cloud solutions. We have cloud options for our services. A customer picks an approach, and we have the mechanism in place to deploy in a matter of a day or two.

Connecting to different types of content is a priority at Yippy. Even through the company has a wide array of import filters and content processing components, Cizmar revealed that Yippy is “enhanced the company’s connector framework.”

I remarked that most search vendors do not have a framework, relying instead on expensive components licensed from vendors such as Oracle and Salesforce. He smiled and said, “Yes, a framework, not a widget.”

Cizmar emphasized that the Yippy IBM Google connections were important to many of the company’s customers plus we have also acquired the Muse Global connectors and the ability to build connectors on the fly. He observed:

Nobody else has Watson Explorer powering the search, and nobody else has the Google Innovation Partner of the Year deploying the search. Everybody tries to do it. We are actually doing it.

Cizmar made an interesting side observation. He suggested that Internet search needed to be better. Is indexing the entire Internet in Yippy’s future? Cizmar smiled. He told me:

Yippy has a clear blueprint for becoming a leader in cloud computing technology.

For the full text of the interview with Yippy’s head of enterprise search, Michael Cizmar, navigate to the complete Search Wizards Speak interview. Information about Yippy is available at

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2016

Text Analysis Vendors: Where Are They Now?

August 4, 2016

A year ago I read “20+ Text Mining and Text Analysis Tools.” The sale of Recommind to OpenText and the lack of excitement about search gave me an idea. Where are the companies identified by a mid tier consulting firm today. Let’s take a quick look.

AlchemyAPI. The company now asserts that its powers the “AI economy.” The Web sites has been updated since I last looked. There is a demo and a “free API key.” The system is now a platform. Gartner found the company to be a “cool vendor” in 2014. The company offers a webinar called “Building with Watson.”

Angoss. The company allows a customer to “predict, act, perform.” The focus is now on “customer intelligence in a single analytics tool.” The firm offers “knowledge” products and an insight optimizer.

Attensity. The company has undergone some change. The Web site 404s. Years ago a text analytics cheerleader professed to be a fan. I think portions of the company operate under a different name in Germany. Appears to be in quiet mode.

Basis Technology. The company provided language reacted tools to outfits like Fast Search & Transfer. Someone told me that Basis dabbled in enterprise search. One high profile executive jumped to a company in Madrid.

Brainspace. The company’s Web site tells me, “We build brains.” The company offers NLP technology. Gartner “recommends” Brainspace for “advanced text analytics for financial institutions.” That’s good. The company does not list too many financial institutions as customers on its home page, however.

Buzzlogix. This company’s focus appears to be squarely on social media. The idea is that the firm helps its customers “listen, learn, and act.” When I visited the Web site, the most recent “news” appeared in November 2015.

Clarabridge. The company focuses on understanding “customer needs, wants, and feelings.” The company provides the “world’s most comprehensive customer intelligence platform.”

Clustify. The company positions its text analytics tools for eDiscovery. The company’s most recent news release is dated January 2014 and addresses the Recommind championed predictive coding approach to figuring out what was what in text documents.

Connexor. The company offers “machinese” demonstrations of its capabilities. The most recent item on the company’s Web site is the April 2015 announcement of a free NLP Web service.

DatumBox. This company is a “machine learning framework” provider. It makes machine learning “simple.” The Web site offers a free API key, which knocks the local KFC manager out as a potential licensee. The company’s most recent blog post is dated March 16, 2016. The most recent release is 0.7.0.

Eaagle. This is a company focused on the “new frontier of effective customer relationship management, research, and marketing.” Customers include HermanMiller, Chubb, and Suncor Energy. Data sheets, white papers, and documentation are available and no registration is necessary. Eaagle maintains a low profile.

ExpertSystem. The company bought Temis, a firm based on some ideas in the mind of a former IBM wizard. ExpertSystem, a publicly traded company, is pursuing the pharmaceutical industry and performing independent text analyses of Melania Trump’s and Michelle Obama’s speeches. The two ladies exhibit strong linguistic differences. The company’s stock is trading at $1.81 a share, a bit below Alphabet Google, an outfit also in the text analytics game.

FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation). The company gives “you the power to make smarter decisions.” The company has tallied a number of acquisitions since 1992. Its most recent purchase was Quadmetrics, a predictive analytics company. FICO is publicly traded and the stock is trading at $115.60 a share.

Cognitum. The company asserts that one can “improve your business with the innovation leader in semantic technology.” The company’s main product is Fluent Editor and it offers flagship platform called Ontorion. The firm’s spelling of “scallable” on its home page caught my attention.

IBM. The focus was not on Watson in the listing. Instead, the write up identified IBM Content Analytics as the product to watch. IBM’s LanguageWare uses a range of techniques to process content. IBM is very much in the content processing game with Watson becoming the umbrella “brand.” IBM just tallied is 16th straight quarter of declining revenue.

Intellexer offers text analytics, information security, media content search, and reputation management. The company’s most recent news release, dated May 13, 2016, announces the new version of Conceptmeister “which analyzes text from a photo, cloud documents, and URL.” Essentially this software creates a summary of the source content.

KBSPortal. This company offers natural language processing as a software as a service or NLP as SAAS. A demonstration of the system processes Wikipedia content. A demo video is available. To view it, I was asked to sign in. I declined. The company provides its prices and explains what each component does. Kudos for that approach.

Keatext. The company focuses on “customer experience management.” The company offers a two week free trial of its system. The system incorporates natural language processing. The company’s explanation of what it does requires a bit of digging.

Lexalytics. Lexalytics is in the sentiment analysis business.  The company’s capabilities include categorization and entity extraction. Social media monitoring can be displayed on dashboards. The company posts its prices. When I was involved in a procurement, Lexalytics prices, based on my recollection, were significantly higher than the fees quoted on this page. At one time, Lexalytics engaged in a merger or deal with Infonics. The company acquired Semantria a couple of years ago.

Leximancer. This Australian company’s software turns up in interesting places; for example, the US social security administration in Beltsville, Maryland. The firm’s “text in, insight out” technology emerged from research at the University of Queensland. The company was founded by UniQuest, a techohlogy commercialization company operated by the University of Queensland. The system is quite useful.

Linguamatics. This company has built a following in the pharmaceutical sector. The system does a good job processing academic and research information in ways which can influence certain lines of inquiry. The company now says that it offers the “world’s leading text mining platform.” the company was founded in 2001, and it has been moving along at a steady pace. Quite useful software and capabilities.

Linguasys. Surprised to see an installation profile. The outfit is maintaining a low profile.

Luminoso. The company provides “enterprise feedback and experience analytics.” The company has teamed with another Boston-area outfit, Basis Technologies, to form a marketing partnership. The angle the company seems to be promoting is that if you are using other systems, you can enhance them with text analytics.

MeaningCloud. Meaning cloud asserts that with its system one can “extract valuable information from any text source.” The company’s Text Classification API supports the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “standard contextual taxonomy.” The focus seems to be on sentiment analysis like Lexalytics.

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Sentiment Analysis: Now Embrace Mood Mapping

July 24, 2016

I love the buzzword game. Move enterprise search to sentiment analysis. Then another player nudges forward “mood mapping.” I expect to hear “checkmate,” but I only notice the odor of baloney.

Navigate to “Move Over Sentiment Analysis, Mood Mapping Is Here.” I learned or was exposed to this passage:

“Sentiment analysis has long been the standard approach for understanding how consumers feel about a brand. While this approach sticks to aggregating positive, negative and neutral sentiments; in a world of colors, that’s like having only black, white and grey. With Mood Mapping, we have introduced a next-generation algorithm that helps marketers understand how consumers feel about a particular brand and how they are likely to act on their feelings, something that brand marketers care for very deeply,” Amarpreet Kalkat, co-founder-CEO, Frrole, told [the author, maybe?].

And the company is an award winner. I learned:

Founded in 2014, Frrole, a Microsoft Ventures Accelerator-incubated company, had raised an angel round of $2,45,000 in 2014. The profitable company expects to hit $1 million in revenue run-rate by the end of this year. The start-up was recognized as ‘Marketing Technologist of the Year’ at the Big Data and Analytics Summit 2016.

I think at the pre school near our home, every child gets an award whether a victor in a competition or not. Perhaps Microsoft will integrate mood mapping with LinkedIn in Office 365. That will be exciting when Word’s numbering function fails to count.

Stephen E Arnold, July 24, 2016

Hewlett Packard: Surprise! Autonomy a Tough Sell

July 19, 2016

I read “Hewlett Packard Enterprise Reportedly Looking to Unload Autonomy Assets, Partners Think It’ll Be a Touch Sale.” The source is a cheerleader for outfits which resell other companies’ products. Of course, the resellers add value and perform magic. A good example is that after a company buys a search and content processing engine, a reseller (billed sometimes as a “partner”) has to make the system work. Fair enough in today’s world.

The write up explains:

HPE partners told CRN that the Autonomy software has never been a big seller in the channel, maintaining that HPE never provided partners with sufficient training and support to make the product a channel success.

Yikes. If a partner does not know the product – in this case, Autonomy – how will the savvy partner make a complex search and content processing work? Well, I assume this is a moot point because the write up says clearly, “Autonomy software has never been a big seller in the channel.” Yikes, yikes.

The write up explains:

Autonomy’s Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) technology, which analyzes data from emails, voice, video and social media to identify patterns, was supposed to give HP a unique offering in the big data analytics space. But according to partners, HP didn’t sufficiently train the channel to sell the technology.

Hmm. I think this is a bit repetitive, but who really cares? The point is that the write up wants to make it really clear that HPE dropped the partners into an information black hole, which is the opposite of the weird word infobesity.

I circled this statement in red ink red:

“HP partners had no clue how to sell Autonomy or Vertica — and more importantly, how to build and invest in their businesses to support these products,” the partner told CRN. “I think most partners would welcome the sale of both of those businesses.”

My view is that Hewlett Packard in whatever incarnation it is has compiled an interesting management record in the last few years. Business school case study fodder for some. For me, it is one of the defining examples of what happens when hyperbole gets ahead of what search and content processing systems can provide; to wit:

  • Startling complexity
  • Hard to control costs
  • Mismatch between what the systems output and what the users expect.

Perhaps an investment bank will step in and try to pull off an Allen & Company-Convera-type play? Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2016

VirtualWorks Purchases Natural Language Processing Firm

July 8, 2016

Another day, another merger. PR Newswire released a story, VirtualWorks and Language Tools Announce Merger, which covers Virtual Works’ purchase of Language Tools. In Language Tools, they will inherit computational linguistics and natural language processing technologies. Virtual Works is an enterprise search firm. Erik Baklid, Chief Executive Officer of VirtualWorks is quoted in the article,

“We are incredibly excited about what this combined merger means to the future of our business. The potential to analyze and make sense of the vast unstructured data that exists for enterprises, both internally and externally, cannot be understated. Our underlying technology offers a sophisticated solution to extract meaning from text in a systematic way without the shortcomings of machine learning. We are well positioned to bring to market applications that provide insight, never before possible, into the vast majority of data that is out there.”

This is another case of a company positioning themselves as a leader in enterprise search. Are they anything special? Well, the news release mentions several core technologies will be bolstered due to the merger: text analytics, data management, and discovery techniques. We will have to wait and see what their future holds in regards to the enterprise search and business intelligence sector they seek to be a leader in.

Megan Feil, July 8, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Voyager Search: New Release Available

July 1, 2016

Voyager Search is vendor of search and retrieval based on Lucene. I was not familiar with the company until I read “Voyager Search Improves Search Capabilities and Overall Usability With More Than 150 Updates to Its Version 1.9.8.” According to the write up:

In the new version, Voyager makes it easier to configure content in Navigo, its modern web app, extends its spatial content search, and improves the usability of its Navigo processing tools. Managing content in Navigo can now be done through the new personalized ‘My Voyager’ customization page, which allows customers to share saved searches and update display configurations through a drag and drop interface.

One point in the write up I noted was this statement: “An improved ?spatial search interface now includes the ability to draw and buffer points, lines and polygons.” The idea is that geo-spatial operations appear to be supported by the system.

I also highlighted this comment:

Voyager Search is a leading global provider of geospatial, enterprise search tools that connect, find and deliver more than 1,800 different file formats.

In my experience, support for more than 1,000 file formats suggests a large number of conversion widgets.

The company bills itself as the “only install and go Solr/Lucene search engine.” Information about the company is available at this link. A demo is available here.

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2016

More Palantir Spotting

June 27, 2016

Trainspotting is a collection of short stories or a novel presented as a series of short stories by Irvine Welsh. The fun lovers in the fiction embrace avocations which seem to be addictive. The thrill is the thing. Now I think I have identified Palantir spotting.

Navigate to “Palantir Seeks to Muzzle Former Employees.” I am not too interested in the allegations in the write up. What is interesting is that the article is one of what appears to be of series of stories about Palantir Technologies enriched with non public documents.


The Thingverse muzzle might be just the ticket for employees who want to chatter about proprietary information. I assume the muzzle is sanitary and durable, comes in various sizes, and adapts to the jaw movement of the lucky dog wearing the gizmo.

Why use the phrase “Palantir spotting.” It seems to me that making an outfit which provides services and software to government entities is an unusual hobby. I, for example, lecture about the Dark Web, how to recognize recycled analytics algorithms and their assorted “foibles,” and how to find information in the new, super helpful Google Web search system.

Poking the innards of an outfit with interesting software and some wizards who might be a bit testy is okay if done with some Onion type  or Colbert like humor. Doing what one of my old employers did in the 1970s to help ensure that company policies remain inside the company is old hat to me.

In the write up, I noted:

The Silicon Valley data-analysis company, which recently said it would buy up to $225 million of its own common stock from current and former staff, has attached some serious strings to the offer. It is requiring former employees who want to sell their shares to renew their non-disclosure agreements, agree not to poach Palantir employees for 12 months, and promise not to sue the company or its executives, a confidential contract reviewed by BuzzFeed News shows. The terms also dictate how former staff can talk to the press. If they get any inquiries about Palantir from reporters, the contract says, they must immediately notify Palantir and then email the company a copy of the inquiry within three business days. These provisions, which haven’t previously been reported, show one way Palantir stands to benefit from the stock purchase offer, known as a “liquidity event.”

Okay, manage information flow. In my experience, money often comes with some caveats. At one time I had lots and lots of @Home goodies which disappeared in a Sillycon Valley minute. The fine print for the deal covered the disappearance. Sigh. That’s life with techno-financial wizards. It seems life has not changed too much since the @Home affair decades ago.

I expect that there will be more Palantir centric stories. I will try to note these when they hit my steam powered radar detector in Harrod’s Creek. My thought is that like the protagonists in Trainspotting, Palantir spotting might have some after effects.

I keep asking myself this question:

How do company confidential documents escape the gravitational field of a comparatively secretive company?

The Palantir spotters are great data gatherers or those with access to the documents are making the material available. No answers yet. Just that question about “how”.

Stephen E Arnold, June 27, 2016

Palantir Technologies: Now Beer Pong and Human Augmented Intelligence?

June 23, 2016

I went months, nay years, without reading very much about Palantir Technologies. Now the unicorn seems to be prancing through my newsfeeds frequently. I read “Palantir’s Party Culture: Beer Pong, Office Pranks, and a Bad Case of the Hives.” The focus is less on how Gotham works and the nifty data management system the firm has engineered and more upon revelations about life inside a stealthy vendor of search and content processing systems.

The write up uses what appears to be company emails  and letters from attorneys as sources of information. I thought that emails were the type of information not widely available. Lawyer letters? Hmm. Guess not. A former Hobbit (allegedly the Palantirians’ names for themselves in the Shire) has revealed information about a matter involving a terminated employee.

The Sillycon Valley company allegedly has or had employees who horsed around. I find this difficult to believe. Fun at work? Wow. The aggrieved individual alleges he was injured by a “drunk coworker” who was playing beer pong. And the individual with a beef allegedly had “snacks” taken from his work space. (I thought Palantir-type outfits provided food for the Hobbit-like individuals.)

The write up contains this statement:

The letter [from a legal eagle?] also makes the surprising allegation that Palantir engaged in improper business practices by using both Bloomberg data feeds and software from an IT firm called ANB without the appropriate licenses. Neither Palantir, Bloomberg, nor ANB responded to requests for comment. In the July 2010 letter, Cohen’s attorney states that his client was retaliated against for speaking out about these practices. From the letter:

Mr Cohen was retaliated against for…complaining about issues such as Palantir’s illegal use of third party copyrighted and trademarked icons and Bloomberg data feeds without adequate licenses. In addition, Mr. Cohen was retaliated against for complaining about the illegal use of open source code without crediting authors, and the illegal use of ANB software development kit without ANB’s authorization.

Yikes. From beer pong and missing snacks to the allegation of “improper business practices.”  Who knew this was possible?

Please, note that the statements in the write up about “ANB” probably refer to IBM i2’s proprietary file structures for the Analyst’s Notebook product. (I dug in that outfit’s garden for a while.) What other errors lurk within these write ups about disenchanted Hobbits?

Several questions occurred to me:

  1. Is Palantir’s email system insecure? Have there been other caches of company email let loose from the Shire?
  2. Are these emails publicly available? Will those with access to the emails gather them and post them on a pastesite?
  3. What is the relationship between the IBM i2 proprietary file format and the Gotham system? (Wasn’t there a legal dust up with regard to i2’s proprietary technology?)
  4. How do commercial database content feeds find their way into systems not licensed for such access?

I find it interesting how a company which purports to maintain a low profile captures the attention of “real” journalists who have access to emails and legal letters.

I noted a couple of factoids too:

Key factoid one: Beer pong can be dangerous.

Key factoid two: People working in high tech outfits may want to check out their internal governance methods. Emails don’t walk; emails get sent or copied before, during, or after beer pong.

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2016

GAO DCGS Letter B-412746

June 1, 2016

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a copy of a letter from the GAO concerning Palantir Technologies dated May 18, 2016. The letter became available to me a few days after the 18th, and the US holiday probably limited circulation of the document. The letter is from the US Government Accountability Office and signed by Susan A. Poling, general counsel. There are eight recipients, some from Palantir, some from the US Army, and two in the GAO.

palantir checkmate

Has the US Army put Palantir in an untenable spot? Is there a deus ex machina about to resolve the apparent checkmate?

The letter tells Palantir Technologies that its protest of the DCGS Increment 2 award to another contractor is denied. I don’t want to revisit the history or the details as I understand them of the DCGS project. (DCGS, pronounced “dsigs”, is a US government information fusion project associated with the US Army but seemingly applicable to other Department of Defense entities like the Air Force and the Navy.)

The passage in the letter I found interesting was:

While the market research revealed that commercial items were available to meet some of the DCGS-A2 requirements, the agency concluded that there was no commercial solution that could  meet all the requirements of DCGS-A2. As the agency explained in its report, the DCGS-A2 contractor will need to do a great deal of development and integration work, which will include importing capabilities from DCGS-A1 and designing mature interfaces for them. Because  the agency concluded that significant portions of the anticipated DCSG-A2 scope of work were not available as a commercial product, the agency determined that the DCGS-A2 development effort could not be procured as a commercial product under FAR part 12 procedures. The protester has failed to show that the agency’s determination in this regard was unreasonable.

The “importing” point is a big deal. I find it difficult to imagine that IBM i2 engineers will be eager to permit the Palantir Gotham system to work like one happy family. The importation and manipulation of i2 data in a third party system is more difficult than opening an RTF file in Word in my experience. My recollection is that the unfortunate i2-Palantir legal matter was, in part, related to figuring out how to deal with ANB files. (ANB is i2 shorthand for Analysts Notebook’s file format, a somewhat complex and closely-held construct.)

Net net: Palantir Technologies will not be the dog wagging the tail of IBM i2 and a number of other major US government integrators. The good news is that there will be quite a bit of work available for firms able to support the prime contractors and the vendors eligible and selected to provide for-fee products and services.

Was this a shoot-from-the-hip decision to deny Palantir’s objection to the award? No. I believe the FAR procurement guidelines and the content of the statement of work provided the framework for the decision. However, context is important as are past experiences and perceptions of vendors in the running for substantive US government programs.

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