How Defense Tech Company Anduril Rapidly Grew Their Business

Landing big contracts with American military branches, commercial interests and U.S. allies abroad takes learning, patience and skill.
Written by Erik Fassnacht
August 6, 2021Updated: August 6, 2021

Imagine this: across a windswept expanse of desert, a federal agent rushes toward a rocky outcropping framed by mesquite bushes and a tilting yucca tree. The rocks are ideal cover for a covert assembly that will take under two minutes with a single operator. 

The agent sets down an expeditionary bag and removes a sleek, portable drone made of advanced metal alloys and lightweight carbon fiber. The drone — Anduril’s Ghost 4 — is assembled and brought to life in just one minute and 47 seconds. 

The agent steps back as Ghost 4’s rotors whir and the craft lifts into the air in almost total silence. Capable of 32 trillion operations per second and operating on the Lattice AI platform, Ghost 4 has little difficulty detecting a suspicious white Land Rover Defender parked a mile west of the agent’s position. Anduril’s drone takes off for AI-guided autonomous tracking and surveillance, all while intelligently communicating with other airborne Ghosts in the area. The situation is quickly brought under control. 

Though this particular situation is imaginary, the in-the-field success of Anduril’s innovative technology is quite real: it was announced in June that the defense tech company had raised $450 million in a Series D funding round and raised their valuation to $4.6 billion — more than double the company’s previous valuation in July 2020. Some of the unsung heroes of this rapid success are the team’s business development managers. 

A business development manager helps grow a business by finding new leads, researching opportunities, establishing strong relationships with potential clients and arranging major appointments for sales executives. In the case of Anduril, this is made even more complex due to the differing needs of American military branches, federal agencies, various commercial interests and United States allies abroad.

To learn more, we sat down with Diem Salmon, senior director of business development at Anduril.


Big Contracts

Anduril signed a $13.5 million contract in 2019 to create a “virtual digital fortress” for U.S. Marine Corps bases in Arizona, Japan and Hawaii, and in 2020 signed a contract with the Air Force worth up to $950 million. They’ve also partnered with the U.K.’s Royal Navy and have been designated a “program of record” by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.


Diem Salmon
Senior Director, Business Development


As a business development manager, what are your overall goals? How do you measure success in your role?

In its simplest form, the goal of business development is to grow the revenue of the company, and success means hitting our revenue goals. However, the business development team — like other teams — is guided by the overall mission of Anduril, which is to develop and field state-of-the-art solutions to the U.S. government and our allies to help solve critical national security problems. So, our overall goal is not to extract every nickel from the government but to build innovative products that are valuable.


What skills do you need to develop in order to be successful in your role?

Most people originally come from one world or the other, and will have to adjust to the other in this role. For example, I spent most of my career in government-related jobs, and understanding the technology and software found in startup culture is important if you’re going to effectively represent Anduril. You also have to be creative. The federal government does not often work with tech companies, and in many ways the two communities are not designed to work together. Finding paths that support what the government requires while staying true to Anduril’s way of developing technology often requires finding new ways of doing business.


The federal government does not often work with tech companies, and finding paths that support what the government requires while staying true to Anduril’s way of developing technology often requires new ways of doing business.


What are your career goals, and what are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’m happy that my career to date has given me a lot of opportunity to expand my horizons. With each new job I’ve been thrown into, I’ve been put in a different environment and forced to learn and get outside my comfort level. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to maintain that throughout my career. And, of course, there’s the most obvious goal: that Anduril absolutely crushes it and I get to be along for the ride!



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