Palantir (PLTR), the secret big data firm co-founded by billionaire co-founder PayPal (PYPL) and Facebook (FB) investor Peter Thiel, will debut on the stock exchange via a direct listing in September 29 with an estimated valuation of 22 billion dollars
Much of what Palantir does and how it uses its data treasures is opaque to everyone except the most dedicated subscribers. Founded in 2004 with funding from the nonprofit venture capital arm of the CIA In-Q-Tel, Palantir is named for mystical orbs in JRR’s « Lord of the Rings » universe by Tolkien who can see at both past and present and allow users to communicate over great distances
It’s not very far from how Palantir itself works.It provides custom software to clients analyzing large swaths of data for purposes ranging from finding suspected criminals to improving the manufacturing capabilities of companies
Palantir has courted significant controversy because of his work with government agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and because of Thiel’s support for President Donald Trump There are also still questions about to know when it will turn a profit Like many recently released tech unicorns, Palantir has yet to make any money, losing $ 580 million in 2018 and $ 579 million in 2019
A custom option, Palantir Gotham is used by businesses, government agencies and law enforcement to combine information to uncover previously invisible patterns and identify relationships between datasets ranging from publications and social media addresses to license plate numbers and personal connections The service then pulls all this content together into easy-to-understand graphics and charts.
In the meantime, Foundry is an out-of-the-box option that caters to customers ranging from pharmaceutical and automotive companies to aviation companies like Airbus, and aims to reduce costs associated with Gotham, such as the need for multiple engineers on site
Palantir offers a variety of what it calls solutions for different types of applications, whether for automotive manufacturers, defense industry, financial compliance, insurance, intelligence operations, forces order, etc.
The company is guided by the co-founder and CEO of billionaire Alex Karp A Stanford Law School graduate, like Thiel, Karp has been running Palantir shortly after its inception Before Palantir, Karp founded the financial management firm Caedmon Group
Karp expressed his belief in the need for Silicon Valley companies to work with US government and law enforcement agencies.In an interview with CNBC in 2019, Karp had sharp words for companies like Google (GOOG, GOOGL) which withdrew from contracts with the government
« It’s a losing position It’s not intelligible It’s not intelligible to the average person It’s not academically sustainable And I’m very happy we’re not on this side of the debate ”, he declared
Palantir says its software has helped businesses and government agencies with everything from convicting Ponzi scheme schemer Bernie Madoff to disaster recovery to tackling cyberattacks and child exploitation. even has an apocryphal story that the company’s technology was used to help locate Osama bin Laden
Palantir claims its technology was deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in 2018 alongside Team Rubicon, a veterans organization that responds to disaster areas.With Palantir’s Gotham Operations module, the group identified and responded to neighborhoods that needed help the most
Palantir also spoke about the use of its technology by the Center for Public Integrity and the Georgetown University Journalism Program for an investigation into the death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by activists in Pakistan in 2007 The company claims the software helped identify 27 people who were involved in the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, mapping their relationships and providing answers to questions surrounding her death
The company also claims its software has helped the U.S. military follow insurgents in Afghanistan planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by finding correlations between weather conditions, IED attacks wired command and biometric information found on explosive devices
The company says it has also provided its software to the Salt Lake City Police Department, helping officers cut the time it takes to complete complex investigations by 95%
But Palantir has also seen its share of controversy in addition to the victories it boasts about. The amount of information its software is able to track – license plate numbers; Social security numbers; social media accounts; addresses; bank records; interpersonal relationships – led to comparisons with police thought crimes in « Minority Report »
Palantir used this kind of predictive policing model in New Orleans, according to The Verge But predictive policing is controversial and, studies show, can lead to greater police oversight of minority and low-income communities
And it’s not just fear of the size of its data collection The company has also been targeted by protesters and its own employees for the work it does with ICE after denying it worked with the ICE’s deportation arm, Karp told CNBC in January 2020 that his company’s software was being used to « find undocumented people in our country »
Previously, in July 2019, WNYC reported that ICE agents used Palantir’s Falcon mobile app during operations, including raids on nearly 100 7-11 stores across the US in 2019
And in May 2020, Karp told Axios that Palantir’s software was likely used to kill people in the military, but wouldn’t provide more details on who or how
In the past, according to Bloomberg, Palantir has lost a number of partnerships with high-profile companies including Hershey, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and American Express due to the high costs of the tech company.
Despite everything that is still unknown about Palantir, it is almost certain that the company will receive a lot of attention when it tests public markets for the first time
Do you have any advice? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley @ yahoofinancecom via encrypted mail to danielphowley @ protonmailcom, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley
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