Controversial big data firm Palantir Technologies Inc. is reportedly discussing a possible IPO as soon as next year, valuing the company at up to $41 billion.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the analytics giant co-founded by billionaire investor Peter Thiel is in talks with investment banks Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. The company was valued at around $20 billion when it raised funds in 2015.
Palantir's analysis of massive amounts of data helps predict and track events for intelligence agencies and governments - it is credited with helping the Pentagon and CIA locate and kill Osama bin Laden in 2011 - but it also has many clients in the private sector. Earlier this year Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie testified that a Palantir employee had helped his firm get hold of the Facebook user data at the heart of the scandal - but the company said he had acted in his own time and strictly against company policy. Palantir is also embroiled in a controversy over data used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deporting and tracking immigrants, with protests outside its offices earlier this year, and employees of one of its private sector clients, Amazon Web Services, reportedly writing to CEO Jeff Bezos this month asking him to stop working with the company.
Thiel was the earliest major investor in Facebook and still sits on its Board. In the insight and analytics sector, he has funded ad retargeting platform AdRoll, as part of a $70m round in 2014 and marketing intelligence platform Radius, which pulled in $54.7m later the same year. Palantir itself raised the huge sum of $880m just under three years ago.
If the IPO does take place at the kind of price rumoured, it could be one of Silicon Valley's largest of 2018-19, on a par with Airbnb (last valuation $31bn, rumoured IPO $50bn) albeit some way behind Uber (last valuation $76bn, rumoured IPO $120bn).
Web site: www.palantir.com .
All articles 2006-18 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.