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Babak Siavoshy: Building Anduril Into a $5B Powerhouse

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Babak Siavoshy grew up in Orange County before heading north for college, law school and a stint in Palo Alto, making his current job at Irvine’s Anduril Industries Inc. a return home.

As Anduril’s general counsel, Siavoshy leads a team of about 25 people, ranging from lawyers to security compliance specialists at the fast-growing company.

“What we find sexy is working on what’s most important to the business, which for us is growing the business,” Siavoshy said.

“We plan to grow rapidly. Our goal is to be the next generation’s defense prime [contractor],” meaning Anduril would be one of a handful of large defense firms that works directly with the U.S. government and manage subcontractors as necessary.

Since he joined in 2018, Siavoshy is pushing Anduril in that direction. He has helped negotiate a potential $950 million deal with the U.S. Air Force, completed a $550 million funding round that valued Anduril at nearly $5 billion, and helped ink one of Southern California’s largest office leases ever.

For those reasons, Siavoshy on Nov. 18 was honored at the Business Journal’s 11th annual General Counsel Awards, as the outstanding general counsel of a private company.

US Defense

Formed in 2017, Anduril utilizes the newest technology such as drones, optics and artificial intelligence to radically transform U.S. defense capabilities and solve national security challenges. The company also develops border protection systems.

Anduril’s founder is 29-year-old entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, who sold Oculus VR to Facebook for a reported $3 billion in 2014. Chief Executive Brian Schimpf is a co-founder of the company.

Anduril is set to become one of Orange County’s largest office tenants, after Siavoshy oversaw a massive deal to move its Irvine headquarters to the former site of the LA Times printing facility in Costa Mesa.

In a deal announced earlier this year, Anduril will take over at least 640,000 square feet at The Press, an under-construction creative office project that’s being built in phases over the next two years.

The company is expanding to compete against defense behemoths, and prime contractors, such as Raytheon Technologies Corp. (NYSE: RTX) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT).

The Anaheim Kid

Siavoshy attended elementary school, junior high and Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, before heading north to the University of California, Berkeley, for college and law school, graduating in 2008.

He then did a prestigious year as a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, followed by stints at giant law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, D.C., and the California Department of Justice.

He joined Anduril in June 2018, coming from his post as legal counsel and global data protection officer at Palantir Technologies Inc., (NYSE: PLTR), a $41.2 billion software company co-founded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. The Thiel-linked Founders Fund is one of Anduril’s investors.

Favorite Job

“This is by far my favorite job I’ve ever had,” Siavoshy said of his post at Anduril. “When I had the opportunity to join this company it was kind of a return home.”

He lives with his wife and their three daughters in Fountain Valley.

While law firms are filled with specialists, he told the Business Journal: “In-house, it’s a little bit different. You have your hands in everything.”

His department has five lawyers, with three more being added, and relies on specialists from outside law firms. The legal group includes proposal team, contracts team and security compliance specialists.

In July, Anduril said it received a contract worth up to $99 million to supply the U.S. military with drones aimed at countering hostile or unauthorized drones.

The company counts more than 600 employees, with outposts in Seattle, Boston and London, as well as a key government-oriented outpost in Washington, D.C.

Security Clearances

“We’re a defense contractor so it’s common for people who work here to have security clearances,” said Siavoshy, who is also an Anduril vice president.

“The next generation’s defense prime contractors will be in every domain. It will be in air land, sea, space.”

Anduril said in October it had bought Copious Imaging, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory.

The acquisition follows Anduril’s announcement in April that it acquired Area-I, a Georgia-based company that makes military drones capable of being launched from helicopters and other moving platforms.

“If we can save 12 to 18 months buying into a capability or a talent set rather than building it, then we’d consider that seriously,” he said. “We have projects in the pipeline and I think over the next six to 12 months, you will hear about them.

“When we think about acquisitions, it ties into our desire to be this next generation’s prime contractor,” according to Siavoshy, who says they “are very likely going to be a pretty important part of our growth over the next few years.”  

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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