|Founders||Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen, Nathan Gettings|
|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California, U.S.|
|Products||Palantir Gotham, Palantir Metropolis|
Number of employees
Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in big data analysis. Founded in 2004, Palantir's original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC). It has since expanded its customer base to serve state and local governments, as well as private companies in the financial and healthcare industries. The company is known for two software projects in particular: Palantir Gotham is used by counter-terrorism analysts at offices in the USIC 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 investigations). Palantir Metropolis is used by hedge funds, banks, and financial services firms.
CEO Alex Karp announced in 2013 that the company would not be pursuing an IPO, as going public would make "running a company like ours very difficult". As of early 2014 the company was valued at $9 billion, according to Forbes, with the magazine further explaining that the valuation made Palantir "among Silicon Valley's most valuable private technology companies". As of December 2014 the company continued to have diverse private funders, such as Kenneth Langone and Stanley Druckenmiller, In-Q-Tel of the CIA, Tiger Global Management, and Founders Fund. As of December 2014, Peter Thiel was Palantir's largest shareholder. In January 2015, the company was valued at US$15 billion after an undisclosed round of funding with US$50 million in November 2014.
- 1 History
- 2 Products
- 3 Customers
- 4 Palantir Night Live event
- 5 Controversies
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
2003–2009: Founding and early years
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 books The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company has nine international offices as well as four offices 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.
Founders have now shared that, Palantir during its early stage was once struggling for fund raising. According to Karp, Sequoia Chairman Michael Moritz doodled through an entire meeting. A Kleiner Perkins exec lectured the Palantir founders on the inevitable failure of their company for an hour and a half.
2010: Ghostnet and the Shadow Network
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.
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.
|"[As of 2013] the U.S. spy agencies also employed Palantir to connect databases across departments. Before this, most of the databases used by the CIA and FBI were siloed, forcing users to search each database individually. Now everything is linked together using Palantir."|
|— TechCrunch in January 2015|
A document leaked to TechCrunch revealed that Palantir's clients as of 2013 included at least twelve groups within the US government, including the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. However, at the time the US Army continued to use its own data analysis tool. Also, according to TechCrunch, the US spy agencies such as the CIA and FBI were linked for the first time with Palantir software, as their databases had previously been "siloed."
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. CEO Alex Karp announced in 2013 that the company would not be pursuing an IPO, as going public would make “running a company like ours very difficult.” In December 2013, the company began a round of financing, raising around $450 million from private funders. This raised the company's value to $9 billion, according to Forbes, with the magazine further explaining that the valuation made Palantir "among Silicon Valley’s most valuable private technology companies."
2014–2016: Additional funding
In December 2014, Forbes reported the Palantir was looking to raise $400 million in an additional round of financing, after the company filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission the month before. The report was based on research by VC Experts. If completed, Forbes stated Palantir's funding could reach a total of $1.2 billion. As of December 2014, the company continued to have diverse private funders, Kenneth Langone and Stanley Druckenmiller, In-Q-Tel of the CIA, Tiger Global Management, and Founders Fund, which is a venture Firm operated by Peter Thiel, the chairman of Palantir. As of December 2014, Thiel was Palantir's largest shareholder.
The company was valued at $15 billion in November 2014. In June 2015, Buzzfeed reported the company was raising up to $500 million in new capital at a valuation of $20 billion. By December 2015, it raised a further $880 million, while the company was still valued at $20 billion. In February 2016, Palantir bought Kimono Labs, a startup which makes it easy to collect information from public facing websites.
In August 2016, Palantir acquires data visualization startup Silk.
Palantir Gotham (formerly known as Palantir Government) integrates structured and unstructured data, provides search and discovery capabilities, knowledge management, and 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 of 2004. Palantir’s privacy controls purportedly 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[further explanation needed] at a granular level.
Palantir previously ran the site AnalyzeThe.US, which allowed potential 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.
The company has been involved in a number of business and consumer products, designing in part or in whole. For example, in 2014, they premiered Insightics, which according to the Wall Street Journal " extracts customer spending and demographic information from merchants’ credit-card records." It was created in tandem with credit processing company First Data."
Private civilian use
US civil entities
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.[clarification needed] Other clients as of 2013 included Polaris Project, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
US military, intelligence, and police
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).
Other clients as of 2013 included DHS, NSA, FBI, CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies. However, at the time the US Army continued to use its own data analysis tool. Also, according to TechCrunch, "The U.S. spy agencies also employed Palantir to connect databases across departments. Before this, most of the databases used by the CIA and FBI were siloed, forcing users to search each database individually. Now everything is linked together using Palantir."
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 has also been reported to be working with various US police departments, for example accepting a contract in 2013 to help the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center build a controversial license plates database for California.
Palantir Night Live event
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; Nelson Dellis, memory athlete; and Michael Chertoff.
WikiLeaks proposals (2010)
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, Matthew Steckman, was later reinstated.
Federal discrimination lawsuit (2016)
On September 26, 2016, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Palantir alleging that the company discriminated against Asian job applicants on the basis of their race.
According to the lawsuit, the company "routinely eliminated" Asian applicants during the hiring process, even when they were "as qualified as white applicants" for the same jobs. The lawsuit stated that Palantir assessed 130 applicants for job positions, 73% of whom were Asian, and ultimately hired only four Asians and 17 non-Asians. "The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion," the lawsuit emphasized.
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