Cambridge-based computer security firm Darktrace has said it is planning an initial public offering in London that could seek up to £3 billion.

It is the first major tech listing to be announced since Deliveroo’s disastrous IPO earlier this month, which saw shares fall 30 percent on their first day of trading.

Darktrace, founded in 2013 by mathematics professors and former members of the UK security services, said it would use the funds it raises to fuel product development as it focuses on growth.

The company uses artificial intelligence to spot attacks by detecting unusual behaviour.

Artificial intelligence

The company was amongst the first to apply AI techniques to cyber-security.

It has not indicated the scale of its plans, but reports said Darktrace could be seeking a valuation of up to £3bn.

It counts Rolls-Royce and Coca-Cola amongst its customers and says it interrupts an attack once every second.

Chief executive Poppy Gustafsson said London was the company’s first choice for an IPO and a US listing had not been considered.

She said Deliveroo was a great way to get a burrito delivered on a bicycle, but that Darktrace is quite a different proposition.

Technology proposition

Darktrace is a “fundamental technology company”, she told the BBC.

The company was an early investment by Mike Lynch’s Invoke Trust following the sale of Autonomy to HP in 2011, and Invoke remains Darktrace’s largest shareholder.

Lynch faces fraud charges in the US over the Autonomy sale and resigned from Darktrace’s board in 2018 after the US filed Autonomy-related charges.

Gustaffson said Lynch is not involved with the day-to-day running of the business and his legal proceedings would have no impact on performance.

Darktrace’s annual revenue grew from $79.4m (£57.7m) in 2018 to $199.1m in 2020, but it remains loss-making as Gustaffson said the company remains focused on growth.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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