|Founder(s)||Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen, Nathan Gettings|
|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California|
|Products||Palantir Gotham, Palantir Metropolis|
Palantir Technologies, Inc. is an American computer software and services company, specializing in data analysis. Primary clients are the US government customers, and since 2010, financial customers.
Officially incorporated in May 2003, Palantir is generally considered to have been founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel, Alex Karp, Joe Lonsdale, Stephen Cohen, and Nathan Gettings. Early investments were $2 million from the US Central Intelligence Agency venture arm In-Q-Tel, and $30 million from Thiel and his firm, Founders Fund. Alex Karp is Palantir’s CEO. Palantir’s name comes from the "seeing stones" in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company has four international offices and four in the United States.
Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel. The software concept grew out of technology developed at PayPal to detect fraudulent activity, much of it conducted by Russian organized crime syndicates. The company said computers alone using artificial intelligence could not defeat an adaptive adversary. Palantir proposed using human analysts to explore data from many sources, called intelligence augmentation.
In April 2010, Palantir announced a partnership with Thomson Reuters to sell the Palantir Metropolis product as QA Studio. On June 18, 2010, Vice President Joe Biden and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag held a press conference at the White House announcing the success of fighting fraud in the stimulus by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB). Biden credited the success to the software, Palantir, being deployed by the federal government. He announced that the capability will be deployed at other government agencies, starting with Medicare and Medicaid. Estimates were $250 million in revenues in 2011.
In September 2013, Palantir disclosed over $196 million in funding according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing. It was estimated that the company would likely close almost $1 billion in contracts in 2014.
Palantir Gotham (formerly known as Palantir Government) integrates structured and unstructured data, provides advanced search and discovery capabilities, enables knowledge management, and facilitates secure collaboration. The Palantir platform includes the privacy and civil liberties protections mandated by legal requirements such as those in the 9/11 Commission Implementation Act. Palantir’s privacy controls keep investigations focused, as opposed to the expansive data mining techniques that have drawn criticism from privacy advocates concerned about civil liberties protection. Palantir maintains security tags at a granular level.
Palantir runs the site AnalyzeThe.US, which allows Palantir customers and affiliates to use Palantir Gotham to perform analysis on publicly available data from data.gov, usaspending.gov, the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets Database, and Community Health Data from HHS.gov.
Palantir Metropolis (formerly known as Palantir Finance) is software for data integration, information management and quantitative analytics. The software connects to commercial, proprietary and public data sets and discovers trends, relationships and anomalies, including predictive analytics.
Palantir Gotham is used by counter-terrorism analysts at offices in the United States Intelligence Community and United States Department of Defense, fraud investigators at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and cyber analysts at Information Warfare Monitor (responsible for the GhostNet and the Shadow Network investigation). Palantir Metropolis is used by hedge funds, banks, and financial services firms.
U.S. military intelligence used the Palantir product to improve their ability to predict locations of improvised explosive devices in its war in Afghanistan. A small number of practitioners reported it to be more useful than the U.S. Army's program of record, the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A). California Congressman Duncan D. Hunter complained of US DoD obstacles to its wider use in 2012.
Palantir partner Information Warfare Monitor used Palantir software to uncover both the Ghostnet and the Shadow Network. The Ghostnet was a China-based cyber espionage network targeting 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including the Dalai Lama’s office, a NATO computer and embassies. The Shadow Network was also a China-based espionage operation that hacked into the Indian security and defense apparatus. Cyber spies stole documents related to Indian security, embassies abroad, and NATO troop activity in Afghanistan.
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Palantir’s software is used by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to detect and investigate fraud and abuse in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Specifically, the Recovery Operations Center (ROC) used Palantir to integrate transactional data with open-source and private data sets that describe the entities receiving Stimulus funds.
Palantir Night Live
Palantir hosts Palantir Night Live at Palantir’s McLean and Palo Alto offices. The event brings speakers from the intelligence community and technology space to discuss topics of common interest. Past speakers include Garry Kasparov, Nart Villeneuve from Information Warfare Monitor, Andrew McAfee, author of Enterprise 2.0, and Michael Chertoff.
In 2010 Hunton & Williams LLP allegedly asked Berico Technologies, Palantir, and HBGary Federal to draft a response plan to “the WikiLeaks Threat.” In early 2011 Anonymous publicly released HBGary-internal documents, including the plan. The plan proposed Palantir software would “serve as the foundation for all the data collection, integration, analysis, and production efforts.” The plan also included slides, allegedly authored by HBGary CEO Aaron Barr, which suggested “[spreading] disinformation” and “disrupting” Glenn Greenwald’s support for WikiLeaks.
Palantir CEO Karp ended all ties to HBGary and issued a statement apologizing to “progressive organizations… and Greenwald … for any involvement that we may have had in these matters." Palantir placed an employee on leave pending a review by a third-party law firm. The employee was later reinstated.
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