The US data analysis company Palantir is still working with high losses. Of the published on Tuesday, several hundred pages long prospectus reveals that Palantir closed 2019 down approximately $ 590 million. In 2018, the losses were nearly $ 600 million. Sales rose by a quarter in 2019 to just under $ 743 million.
In the first half of this year, Palantir had 125 customers, “including some of the largest and most important institutions in the world”. Palantir specializes in data analysis and works a lot with security agencies and intelligence services, especially in the USA. This is one of the reasons why the company has always kept a low profile when it comes to its business and its customers. With the IPO, at least the business figures are now disclosed.
Cooperation with Airbus
The company was founded in 2003 – and the first software platform called Gotham was specially developed for analysts in the military and secret services to evaluate large amounts of data. “They looked for needles not in one but in thousands of haystacks”, Palantir describes it in the prospectus.
The second software, Foundry, is also used for data analysis in companies. Airbus use them as his “Core data platform”. The partnership with the aircraft manufacturer has developed a platform for the entire industry that brings together data from more than 100 airlines and 9,000 aircraft. Other corporate customers include the Darmstadt-based Merck Group, the car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler, the oil company BP and the Credit Suisse bank. Last year, 47 percent of revenue came from government customers.
Criticism of Silicon Valley
In the first half of 2020, Palantir sales rose 49 percent year over year to approximately $ 481 million. The three largest customers brought in 29 percent of the total revenue. The bottom line was a loss of nearly $ 165 million. If you factor out the effect of employee compensation with shares, Palantir would have left black numbers of a good 17 million dollars.
The company recently moved its headquarters from Palo Alto south of San Francisco to Denver, Colorado. Palantir boss Alex Karp went hard in the stock market prospectus in court with the Silicon Valley. From the start, Palantir has turned down opportunities to sell or collect data. “Other tech companies, including some of the largest in the world, have built all of their businesses on it.” The software from Palantir, however, is used to take action against terrorists and to ensure the safety of soldiers.
At the same time Karp complained: “Software projects with the military and secret services in our country, whose job it is to ensure our security, have become controversial.” Among the founders of Palantir is billionaire Peter Thiel, one of the few supporters of US President Donald Trump in the tech industry. According to the prospectus, Thiel holds 29.8 percent of Palantir – and his start-up financier Founders Fund also holds 12.7 percent. Karp controls 9.3 percent.
German authorities use Palantir
In Germany there are already some authorities that use Palantir software. After Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia also decided this spring to equip investigators with digital tools from Palantir. The software is intended to link various police databases, but at the same time also examine online networks such as Facebook in order to track down suspects and create perpetrator profiles.
At times there was also talk of using the foundry software to combat the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of April 2020 it became known that Palantir was negotiating with authorities in Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. The Federal Ministry of Health announced at the beginning of April 2020, “current” not to use any software from Palantir. At the end of April, the Hessian state government decided against using the Palantir software.
Close relationship with Axel Springer Verlag
Palantir boss Karp was also in the meantime on the supervisory board of the Axel Springer publishing house, has only been a member of the newly created Shareholders’ Committee since the beginning of this year. The Palantir manager and former SPÖ politician Laura Rudas has been owned since summer 2020 to the board of directors of the Swiss Ringier publishing house. Ringier is a cooperation partner of the Axel Springer Verlag.