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23. Anduril Industries – CNBC

Founders: Brian Schimpf (CEO), Palmer Luckey, Trae Stephens, Matt Grimm, Joe Chen
Launched: 2017
Headquarters: Costa Mesa, California
$835.1 million (PitchBook)
Valuation: $4.6 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, edge computing, machine learning, robotics
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 0

Persephone Kavallines

In the world of national security and warfare, autonomy is quickly becoming the future. Defense technology company Anduril Industries is aiming to be right at the center of that.

Founded in 2017 by Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR which he sold to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014 at 21 years old, the company focuses on making what it calls “the next generation of military technology,” centered around autonomous systems that can patrol the air, space, and sea, as well as an, AI- and computer vision-powered operating system connecting military systems to allow for better and quicker decision making.

The company is also known for the technology it has deployed at the U.S. southern border, equipping towers with autonomous technology that use AI and computer vision that track movement as opposed to having someone watch a camera feed.

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Anduril’s ascension comes as the Pentagon has further embraced tech as a larger part of the future of the military.

“My responsibility is to ensure an enduring technological advantage for the United States military,” Heidi Shyu, CTO of the U.S. Department of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee in April. “DoD’s processes should be updated to reflect the dynamic landscape of today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow. The private sector is our competitive advantage, and we have to improve collaboration between government and the private sector so we can rapidly transition technologies to fieldable capabilities.”

Anduril has looked to separate itself from other defense industry companies by privately funding its own research and development, which it says allows it to deploy its products in months as opposed to years.

That has led to several big government contracts, including a nearly $1 billion deal in January with the U.S. Special Operations Command for a counter unmanned systems effort. It also signed contracts with the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Command’s Innovation Hub and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit.

It has also made several acquisitions in the past year, expanding its technology and capabilities. In February, Anduril acquired Dive Technologies, which makes autonomous underwater vehicles, a move that established the company’s maritime division. In September 2021 it acquired Copious Imaging, adding to Anduril’s AI-enabled tracking and detection technology.

Last year, the company raised $450 million in a Series D funding round that gave it a valuation of $4.6 billion, a round led by Elad Gil with participation from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and 8VC.

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