Palantir is known for its data analytics platform that is used extensively in areas like law enforcement, financial and insurance research and healthcare. Now you can add retail and shopping data to the mix. It has acquired Fancy That, a startup that has built a platform to help retailers with their omnichannel strategies across physical stores, online, mobile and other platforms where they sell goods and communicate with customers.
Among its features, Fancy That optimizes store operations, including clearing inventories, managing discounts, and understanding customers’ retail habits. Tapping into the different kinds of technology that are used in retail environments today, the company incorporates elements of machine learning, mobile, and sensor technologies into its services. It works on both software and hardware technologies.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed but the acquisition is confirmed on the startup’s blog, and through an additional source directly to TechCrunch.
This appears to be Palantir’s fourth acquisition, and the second in the wider area of brands, marketing and sales. (The other is Poptip, a social polling and social marketing company that the company acquired last year.)
Omnichannel strategies have become a big theme in the world of commerce, with the rise of things like mobile payments, online shopping, in-store alerts and social media complementing more traditional actions like walking into stores to buy things. All of this contributes to the lines between different consumer actions getting increasingly blurred, and also more interdependent.
Initially aiming its services at apparel sellers, Fancy That’s longer term goal seems to be to target others in the retail industry, too. We’re reaching out to the company to see if it can share more details on who its customers were, and to ask about the decision to sell to Palantir now.
It looks, in any case, like it was still in a closed rollout, with its home page featuring a sign up to get on a waiting list, and very little about the company disclosed online.
For now, the team, in the blog post, points to the Palantir acquisition of being a way to build its business faster.
“The decision to join Palantir was not made lightly, but ultimately it was clear that our goal of solving important problems in a data-driven way is deeply aligned with theirs. We are confident that we will be able to drive more value—in the retail industry and beyond—working in concert with the awesome team at Palantir,” they write.
Fancy That was founded in June 2013, started by four computer science graduates out of Stanford: Ayush Sood, Amrit Saxena, Catherine Lu, and Karanveer Mohan. It was part of the inaugural class at Pejman Mar Ventures’ Garage. (The Garage was started in that same year as a collaboration between Pejman Mar Ventures and a group of Stanford CS students to help build companies, with no equity exchanged and no obligation to pursue the project after the program ends.)
Palantir is said to be raising a large round of $400 million, with $50 million of that now disclosed. It is reportedly valued now at around $15 billion. The company has been surrounded by some mystery for some of its secretive practices. It’s also seen some controversy, with co-founder Joe Lonsdale currently being sued for sexual assault. Lonsdale is denying all allegations and is countersuing for defamation.