• The Financial District


Palantir, the Silicon Valley data-analytics company known for taking on controversial work for the US government, filed paperwork Tuesday indicating its intent to go public, Sara Ashley O’Brien and Rachel Metz wrote for CNN Business on August 26, 2020.

The company, which has long shrouded itself in secrecy, reported that it has never turned a profit and that about a third of its revenue came from its three biggest customers. In the first six months of 2020, it reported revenue of $481 million, up nearly 50% from a year earlier, and losses of $164 million, down from $280 million the same period a year prior. It lost $580 million on revenue of $743 million in 2019. In the 17 years since it was founded, Palantir Technologies has received financial backing from the CIA, has become one of the most valuable private companies in the United States, and earned a seat at the table alongside the biggest tech companies in meeting with President Donald Trump. Co-founder Peter Thiel, a member of the so-called "PayPal mafia" and a longtime Facebook board member, supported Trump's 2016 campaign.

The paperwork indicated the company would go public through a direct listing, the same method used by Spotify and Slack. This method means it lists directly on a stock exchange without relying on underwriters to help assess demand and set a price. Named after the seeing stones in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel "The Lord of the Rings," Palantir has two products that customers use to organize and glean insights from mounds of data: Gotham, which was initially developed for government clients, and Foundry. CEO and cofounder Alex Karp distanced Palantir from other Silicon Valley technology companies in a letter included in the filing, writing that "we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector's values and commitments."

Palantir, which provides governments and corporations with tools to help with everything from tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus to zeroing in on terrorists, said in the filing that one of its goals is to "become the default operating system for data across the U.S. government." Revenue from government contracts made up $345.5 million, or 53%, of its overall revenue in 2019. In the filing, Palantirsaid the US government agencies using its software include the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, the SEC, the FDA, the NIH, CDC, Department of Veterans Affairs, Army, Navy and Air Force.

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