Alexander Nix, former Cambridge Analytica CEO
Due to the scandal that has irrevocably tainted its name, as well as upcoming lawsuits, Cambridge Analytica has filed for bankruptcy. But this may not be the end of its story: former Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group executives have already started a new company called Emerdata.
Cambridge Analytica Is Dead
Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Elections (a division of the private military contractor SCL Group) announced that they have begun the insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings in the UK and the United States. The company has ceased all operations.
Following the data harvesting scandal in which Cambridge Analytica was involved, company representatives said that it was no longer viable to operate the business.
Long Live Emerdata
A New York Times report said that SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica executives have set up Emerdata over the past few months. Emerdata was funded by Robert Mercer, who was also the biggest investor in Cambridge Analytica and a donor to Donald Trump in his race for the 2016 presidential election. Mercer's two daughters, Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, have also joined Emerdata as company directors.
Other directors of the company include Johnson Ko Chun Shun, a business partner of Erik Prince, who founded the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater. (Blackwater was later renamed to Xe Services after its contractors were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians.)
According to the NYT’s sources, SCL Group officials have been discussing re-branding Cambridge Analytica, just as Blackwater did. Nigel Oakes, an executive and partner of SCL Group, has publicly described Emerdata as a way of rolling up SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica into one company.
Alexander Nix, the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica who was caught on tape talking about bribing and blackmailing politicians, and who resigned a few weeks ago alongside other SCL Group executives, have also joined Emerdata.
Ensuring Another Cambridge Analytica Doesn't Happen
The SCL Group was involved in elections for many years before it created Cambridge Analytica in order to make use of Facebook’s data, so its executives will probably continue to do the same thing under different company names. However, considering Facebook’s recent data access restrictions, the SCL Group may not be able to abuse Facebook’s platform in quite the same way.
The group could potentially continue to use the Facebook data it has already obtained on up to 87 million users, but that remains to be seen. What’s more important now is that Facebook--as well as everyone else--remains more vigilant not just about Cambridge Analytica’s spin-offs but also about any other company or group that may try to influence elections in unethical ways.