34. Darktrace

A digital immune boost.

Founders: Nicole Eagan (co-CEO), Poppy Gustafsson (co-CEO), Dave Palmer, John Richardson, Jack Stockdale, Nick Trim
Launched: 2013
Headquarters: Cambridge, U.K.
$179.5 million
Valuation: $1.25 billion
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, software-defined security
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity

George Kavallines | CNBC

There's been no shortage of start-ups trying to figure out innovative ways to battle cybercrime and malicious hackers. And it's no wonder. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a research firm, cybercrime is projected to cause some $6 trillion in damages by 2021. That's where Darktrace comes in.

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With headquarters in San Francisco and Cambridge, U.K., this five-year-old company is among the leading artificial intelligence firms for cyberdefense. Darktrace uses machine learning and A.I. algorithms to detect and respond to cyberthreats across a number of different environments, including cloud and virtual networks, IoT (Internet of Things) and industrial control systems.

The company's Enterprise Immune System works a bit like a human body that's trying to fight off a virus. Darktrace's A.I.-enabled platform embeds itself in a company's network and learns what behaviors are normal and which are suspicious. It then automatically stops or slows these compromised networks and devices. The company's solutions have been deployed in more than 5,000 companies, from energy plants to hospitals, in 97 countries. DirectTV, Zappos and the NHL's Players Association are just a few of its customers.

Darktrace was started in Cambridge, U.K., by a group of mathematicians and machine-learning experts from the University of Cambridge. The company claims it's been growing revenues by more than 140 percent year-over-year and now has 620 employees in 32 offices around the world. So far it has raised $159 million from investors, including Invoke Capital, Talis Capital, Hoxton Ventures, Summit Partners, KKR, Softbank, TenEleven, Samsung and Insight Venture Partners.