Natural language processing tech startup Primer raises $110M

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(Reuters) — Primer, a San Francisco-based startup that offers a natural language processing platform used by U.S. national security agencies and others, on Tuesday said it raised $110 million in its latest funding round.

The company also announced a partnership with data analytics firm Palantir Technologies and that the Primer platform will be available in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

While natural language processing is commonly used for transcription services, Primer CEO and founder Sean Gourley said the platform can also analyze text and write a summary.

“It allows you to automate the human reading and writing tasks that would otherwise be very expensive to perform,” Gourley said.

“When you do deploy these things at scale across all of the documents that you have as an organization or an enterprise, you’re going to see patterns and structures inside that data that individual analysts would miss just because they’re not looking at enough volume of information.”

The Primer platform is available in English, Russian, Chinese and Arabic, but is only sold to customers in the United States and its allies given the national security applications, Gourley said.

One such use has been identifying disinformation campaigns in real time through a machine learning platform that Primer developed for the United States Air Force and Special Operations Command.

The funding will be used to expand Primer’s engineering team and grow the market. It plans to expand its languages to include Spanish, and will target the financial and pharmaceutical industries, said Gourley.

The latest funding round was led by venture capital firm Addition. Existing investors include In-Q-Tel, the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital firm.


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