If you work for a sizable corporation, you can pretty much bet that all your online communications—every email and instant message, even personal calendar files—are stored for possible use in future lawsuits or government investigations. That creates an enormous resource for a growing number of "digital sleuths" who can detect suspicious activity by making sense of those countless terabytes of data.
So don't mess with Elizabeth Charnock, CEO and cofounder of Cataphora, a 73-person Silicon Valley startup. Cataphora combines the intelligence of human investigators with its own software to reconstruct the context that's vital to making sense of otherwise cryptic communications. It can figure out whether an email that says "let's do it" means let's do lunch or let's commit securities fraud. Cataphora often learns more from what's omitted than what's included in emails and IMs—and from noticing deviations to long-standing patterns. It knows that something unusual is happening when people stop talking online or when they send emails that say, "Let's talk in person."
Since its founding in 2002, Cataphora has served nearly 100 companies with tens of thousands of employees.