Excerpt of article published on Reuters.com

Every start-up hopes for a lucky break. Swedish company Neo Technology only found out it was getting one the day the Panama Papers made headlines around the world.

Journalists with access to the vast trove of data used the firm’s open-source database to make sense of 11.5 million documents, including emails, images and spreadsheets, leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Neo Technology’s “graph database” literally connected the dots for them, helping find names of the rich and powerful and linking them to offshore accounts.

“I was blown away,” co-founder and CEO Emil Eifrem said of the moment he discovered, just hours before publication, that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had been using his product for the Panama Papers.

“It’s such a sweet spot for our technology, that we have a very stark example,” the 37-year-old Swede, who released his first free software project at just 16, told Reuters.

“It’s been for a long time sexy for geeks. But now all of a sudden we can talk about it even to other people.”

An ICIJ team had worked in secret for an entire year on the documents covering a period of almost four decades, revelations from which have shone a light on the financial schemes of the world’s elites and caused public outrage.

While most databases use tabular searches which can find all the documents in which a name is mentioned, graph databases — imagine a spider web of lines — help reveal all the connections between those names and documents.

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