Palantir Technologies

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Palantir Technologies
Private
Founded 2004
Founders Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen, Nathan Gettings
Headquarters Palo Alto, California
Products Palantir Gotham, Palantir Metropolis
Number of employees
1,500[1]
Website www.palantir.com

Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in data analysis. Founded in 2004, Palantir's original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community. It has since expanded its customer base to serve state and local governments, as well as private companies in the financial and healthcare industries.[2] The company is known for two software projects in particular: 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.[3][4]

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.”[5] 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."[5] 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.[5] In January 2015, the company was valued at 15 billion USD after an undisclosed round of funding with 50 million USD in November 2014.[6]

History[edit]

2003-2009: Founding and early years[edit]

Four of the five founders had formerly been involved with PayPal. Founder and chairman Peter Thiel is the company's largest shareholder as of late 2014

Officially incorporated in May 2003,[2] Palantir is generally considered to have been founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel, Alex Karp,[7] Joe Lonsdale,[8] 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.[3][4][9][10] Alex Karp is Palantir’s CEO.[11] 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.[12]

Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel.[13] The software concept grew out of technology developed at PayPal to detect fraudulent activity, much of it conducted by Russian organized crime syndicates.[3] 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.[14]

2010: Ghostnet and the Shadow Network[edit]

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.[15] 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.[16][17]

2010-2012: Expansion[edit]

In April 2010, Palantir announced a partnership with Thomson Reuters to sell the Palantir Metropolis product as QA Studio.[18] 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.[19] He announced that the capability will be deployed at other government agencies, starting with Medicare and Medicaid.[20][21][22][23]

Estimates were $250 million in revenues in 2011.[24]

2013[edit]

"[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[25]

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.[25] 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."[25]

In September 2013, Palantir disclosed over $196 million in funding according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing.[26][27] It was estimated that the company would likely close almost $1 billion in contracts in 2014.[28] 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.”[5] In December of 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."[5]

2014-2015: Additional funding[edit]

In December 2014, Forbes reported the Palantir was looking to raise $400,000,000 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.[5] 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.[5]

The company was valued at $15 billion in November 2014.[29] In June 2015, Buzzfeed reported the company was raising up to $500 million in new capital at a valuation of $20 billion.[30]

Products[edit]

Palantir Gotham[edit]

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 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 at a granular level.[4][11]

Palantir runs the site AnalyzeThe.US,[31] 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.[32]

Palantir Metropolis[edit]

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.

Other[edit]

The company has been involved in a number of business and consumer products, designing in part of 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 large credit processing company First Data."[33]

Customers[edit]

Private civilian use[edit]

Palantir Metropolis is used by hedge funds, banks, and financial services firms.[3][4][34][16]

Palantir partner Information Warfare Monitor used Palantir software to uncover both the Ghostnet and the Shadow Network.[35][16][36]

US civil entities[edit]

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][22] Other clients as of 2013 included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.[25]

US military, intelligence, and police[edit]

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. [25] 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."[25]

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.[37]

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.[38]

Palantir Night Live event[edit]

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.[39]

Controversies[edit]

WikiLeaks proposals (2010)[edit]

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.”[40] The plan also included slides, allegedly authored by HBGary CEO Aaron Barr, which suggested “[spreading] disinformation” and “disrupting” Glenn Greenwald’s support for WikiLeaks.[41]

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.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Unlocking Secrets, if Not Its Own Value". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-19. 
  2. ^ a b "A (Pretty) Complete History of Palantir". Maus Strategic Consulting. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gorman, Siobhan (September 4, 2009). "How Team of Geeks Cracked Spy Trade". The Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^ a b c d "A Tech Fix For Illegal Government Snooping?". NPR. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Mac, Ryan (December 11, 2014). "Palantir Aiming To Raise $400 Million In New Round". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  6. ^ "SEC FORM D". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  7. ^ "charlierose". Media.palantirtech.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  8. ^ "Palantir Technologies | CrunchBase Profile". Crunchbase.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  9. ^ "Palantir « Founders Fund". Foundersfund.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  10. ^ Evelyn Rusli (2010-06-25). "Palantir: The Next Billion-Dollar Company Raises $90 Million". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  11. ^ a b "Alexander Karp". Charlie Rose. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  12. ^ "contact information". 
  13. ^ Jeff Widman (2009-06-05). "Palantir keeps it lean and mean on five-year journey from zero to 150 employees". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  14. ^ Ari Gesher (2010-03-08). "Palantir Technologies » Blog Archive » Friction in Human-Computer Symbiosis: Kasparov on Chess". Blog.palantirtech.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  15. ^ "CNN.com Video". CNN. 
  16. ^ a b c Chiang, Oliver (2010-04-30). "PayPal-Based Technology Helped Bust India's And The Dalai Lama's Cyberspies". Forbes. 
  17. ^ Markoff, John (March 29, 2009). "Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ "Press release: Thomson Reuters and Palantir Technologies enter exclusive agreement to create next-generation analytics platform for financial clients". Thomson Reuters. 2010-04-12. 
  19. ^ Tim Kauffman (2010-06-27). "The new high-tech weapons against fraud". Federal Times. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  20. ^ Kiely, Kathy (2010-06-18). "Obama administration to create 'do not pay' list to bar shady contractors". USA Today. 
  21. ^ Peter Orszag, Director (2010-06-18). "Do Not Pay? Do Read This Post". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  22. ^ a b Eric Kuhn (June 1, 2010). "Companies capitalize on 'open government'". Political Ticker blog (CNN). Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Using Palantir with Open Source Data: Finding and Preventing Fraud in Stimulus Spending". Palantir Technologies. 2010-05-04. 
  24. ^ Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone (November 22, 2011). "Palantir, the War on Terror's Secret Weapon: A Silicon Valley startup that collates threats has quietly become indispensable to the U.S. intelligence community". Business Week Magazine. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f Burns, Matt (January 11, 2015). "Leaked Palantir Doc Reveals Uses, Specific Functions And Key Clients". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  26. ^ "Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities". The United States Securities and Exchange Commission. September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  27. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai. "Palantir Is Raising $197M In Growth Capital, SEC Filing Shows". TechCrunch. 
  28. ^ Andy Greenberg, Ryan Mac (September 2, 2013). "How A 'Deviant' Philosopher Built Palantir, A CIA-Funded Data-Mining Juggernaut". Forbes. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  29. ^ http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/01/16/palantir-raising-more-money-after-tagged-with-15-billion-valuation/
  30. ^ William ALden (June 23, 2015). "Palantir Valued At $20 Billion In New Funding Round". Buzzfeed. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  31. ^ "AnalyzeThe.US — Home". Web site. Palantir. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Palantir Technologies to Showcase Analysis at the Community Health Data Initiative Forum: Harnessing the Power of Information to". FierceHealthcare. 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  33. ^ Sidel, Robin (February 10, 2015). "First Data Reports First Quarterly Profit in More Than Seven Years". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-02-25. 
  34. ^ "A Human Driven Data-centric Approach to Accountability: Analyzing Data to Prevent Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Stimulus Spending: Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 - Co-produced by UBM TechWeb & O'Reilly Conferences, May 25 - 27, 2010, Washington, DC". Gov2expo.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  35. ^ "CNN.com Video". CNN. 
  36. ^ Markoff, John (March 29, 2009). "Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries". The New York Times. 
  37. ^ Scarborough, Rowan (July 16, 2012). "Military has to fight to purchase lauded IED buster". The Washington Times. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  38. ^ http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/29/4478748/california-license-plate-reader-database-palantir
  39. ^ "Society 2.0: Tenet, Chertoff and Beer, Oh My! | Washington Life Magazine". Washingtonlife.com. 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  40. ^ a b Harris, Shane (31 January 2012). "Killer App". Washingtonian. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  41. ^ James Wray and Ulf Stabe. "Data intelligence firms proposed a systematic attack against WikiLeaks". Thetechherald.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 

External links[edit]