Technology built to improve state resilience — be it in the form of cybersecurity, energy independence, national defense or something else entirely — has come into stronger focus in the wake of the war in Ukraine, and the lines it has drawn between countries on the two sides of that conflict. Now, one of the most prominent startups building defense tech in the US has filed paperwork indicating that it is raising a big round of funding that underscores this shift, and the resulting opportunities for companies like it.
Anduril — which brings together AI, robotics, computer vision, cybersecurity and new networking technologies to build both software and hardware-based defense systems, in aid of helping the US and allied countries against the “software-defined conflicts of tomorrow” as it describes them — is raising up to $1.2 billion, according to documents the startup has filed in Delaware. PrimeUnicornIndex, which identified the filing, notes that if all of the authorized shares, at $16.52/share, for the new Series E are issued, it could raise the company’s valuation to as much as $6.65 billion. We understand however from sources that it’s actually $7 billion pre-money.
The Delaware filing does not disclose how much of that amount has been raised, nor who is investing. A spokesperson for Anduril would not comment on this story. But a source told us recently that at least one of the company’s past investors, 8VC, is in this round and said that it would be getting made public in the coming weeks, which implies that it is close to closing. Others that have invested in Anduril previously include Elad Gil (who led Anduril’s last round, a $450 million Series D in June 2021), D1 Capital Partners, Valor Equity Partners, Lux Capital, General Catalyst and Founders Fund.
For some more context on the fundraising, The Information first reported hearing about it about a month ago; at that time it was estimated to be between $500 million and $1 billion at a valuation of about $7 billion. The Delaware filing seems to indicate that the valuation is working out to be higher than originally estimated, and the amount being raised is higher, too.
Anduril’s fundraise is coming amid some notable shifts taking place in the world of venture funding.
On one hand, we and others have been charting the difficulties that startups have faced in raising and closing funding rounds, with the fallout coming from the top down, so to speak.
Publicly-traded tech stocks have seen big drops and sell-offs across the board, which has had a knock-on effect on the IPO market, which in turn has led to jitters among investors (typically also facing pressure from the performance of stocks in the public markets) backing large, late, growth-stage rounds for privately-held “scaleups”, with mid-sized rounds also seeing a chilling effect, and so on, trickling all the way down even to the earliest-stage startups. In all cases, after years of frothy activity, bubbles are bursting and valuations are typically dropping as well.
On the other hand, there are multiple exceptions to that rule, depending on factors like the sector in question, the company and its performance, how much is being raised, and who is doing the investing.
Anduril is ticking a couple of those boxes, starting first with the shift in attention around companies building defense and “resilience” technology, and the wider business opportunity for them.
Although a number of VCs have steered away from making military technology investments over the years, there have always been some VCs that have focused specifically in that area, including those like In-Q-Tel, the investing arm of the CIA.
Now, partly spurred by world events; the power and influence of countries perceived to be potential hostile threats; and the role that technology is playing as a weapon and battleground, investors like these are now being joined by a newer wave of backers and buyers.
As one example, after many years of no activity in this space, NATO last autumn announced a new Innovation Fund, initially seeded with $1 billion to invest in defense, security, and deep-tech startups that “may otherwise be unable to develop successfully the innovative solutions most needed to the protection of the [NATO] Alliance.” From what we understand that might also include technology designed to improve resilience in areas like energy generation — something that has been a looming issue, given the embargoes being put on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and how that is playing out with its position as a key supplier of oil and gas in Europe.
The funnel of buyers is also growing. Earlier this year, for instance, Germany announced a commitment of €100 billion towards defense spending — again, prompted by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the threat Russia now presents — which will also have a strong technology component.
That activity is not limited to Europe. In January, Anduril won a contract valued at nearly $1 billion with the US Department of Defense to provide counter-unmanned systems and systems integration to the DoD’s Special Operations Command, a deal that may have caught the eye of investors, given the timing with this round.