Have you ever heard of the term palantir? Based on JRR Tolkien’s book The Lord of the Rings, a palantir is a mythical “seeing stone”, a dark orb that was used by Saruman in order to see through darkness or even in a blinding light. The term palantir simply means “one that see from afar.” Fortunately, Palantir is no longer a fictional concept, but now a well-known American software and services company specializing in large data analysis. Based in Palo Alto, California, the company offers two major projects, namely Palantir Gotham and Palantir Foundry. Making its bold impact in the data-mining industry, the company provides software applications for integrating, visualizing and analyzing data, while connecting these information with humans and environments.
In 2004, Palantir was founded by Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Nathan Gettings, Stephen Cohen, and Alex Karp – the company’s CEO. Their goal was to build a company that could lead Big Data onto somewhere that no one else dared to venture. The company’s original clients were United States Intelligence Community (USIC) federal agencies. Ever since then, it has been expanding its clientele to offer services to local and state governments, including private corporations in the healthcare and financial industries. In 2013, the list of the company’s clientele included the FBI, the CIA, the Centre for Disease Control, the NSA, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps, the IRS, and West Point.
Palantir’s Gotham and Foundry
Within its two products, Palantir Gotham platform consists a suite of capabilities for integrating several varying data sources for safe, secure, and collaborative analysis. This platform provides an enterprise knowledgebase, with the complete record of a company’s collective analysis. It also manages petabyte-scale data within a combination of measurable structure and federated data storage. Gotham was used by counter-terrorism experts at USIC and US Department of Defense, fraud agents at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and virtual analysts at Information Warfare. On the other hand, Palantir Foundry radically reinvents the method enterprises collaborate with data by extending and amplifying the capability of data integration. Foundry platform includes a suite of high-end data integration, including git-style versioning semantics, data provenance, branching, granular access controls, transformation authoring, and many more.
Palantir works closely with their clients, wherein engineers map and integrate all of the important data, regardless of volume or type, into a single, intelligible model. Upon the flow of bytes and bits data into the Palantir platforms, information are transformed into a clear and defined objects and connections, such as places, things, events, people, people, and the relationships among them.
Moving Beyond Gathering Data
In its simplest sense, Palantir watches everything a person does and predicts what he will do next to be able to prevent him from doing it. The company monitors anyone from suspected terrorists to business fraudsters, child and human traffickers, and even those people identified as “subversives.” Palantir executes this scheme by using prediction.
The Pentagon had incorporated Palantir platform in Iraq to trail patterns in roadway bomb deployment and garage-door openers were utilized as remote detonators by means of prediction. Palantir had also enabled the marines to send DNA samples coming from far-flung locations and discover important data collected from years of gathering DNA evidence and fingerprints, with the results transmitted back to them instantly. Without the help of Palantir, many suspects would have already transferred to different locations at the time field investigators received and identified the lab results.
Palantir generates $156.7K in revenue per employee, and some of its investors are Artis Ventures, 137 Ventures, and Founders Fund. The company has estimated revenue of $250M – $500M, with a current valuation of $20.40B. In the latter part of 2015, a lot of investors poured about $880M into Thiel’s data-mining company, valuing Palantir at $20B and ranking it alongside with Silicon Valley top flyers like Airbnb and Uber. As per SharesPost, the company’s share price during that time was $11.38.
In an interview with CNBC, CEO Alex Karp told that Palantir has already signed a multi-year deal to expand deployment with the automobile company Fiat Chrysler. Approximately 1,500 workers at the carmaker utilize the software to determine productions issues and potential safety risks. Palantir aims to go after a big and wide market. Based on a research done by IDC, worldwide revenue for business analytics and big data will increase from $151 billion in 2017 up to $210 billion in 2020. The tech giant companies are all gearing up to have their places, including IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle selling large data and analytics tools. But Karp boldly stated that he isn’t really concerned with the rising competition.
“Most software comes in two flavors: It either doesn’t work or it’s not useful. Our software comes in this flavor: It’s very useful and sometimes deadly,” Karp commented, referring to their product being used by the military.
SharesPost forecasted than in 2017, Palantir’s bookings hit by approximately $3.5 billion, with about 50% contributed by government contracts. Moreover, according to the report by SharesPost, the company had a total revenue of up to $600 million just last year, and with a market cap estimation of $20 billion in 18 to 24 months once the company goes public.
According to Karp, while other tech companies have been questioned and disapproved for eliminating industrial and manufacturing work opportunities, Palantir’s software can contribute to securing jobs for a lot of Americans.
“It is preserving jobs. Once the 1,500 employees are using the software, they are actually doing things that otherwise you would need a Ph.D. to do,” the CEO explained.