Secretive data miner Palantir considering going public: WSJ

October 19, 2018 11:46
Famed Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel (middle) is a co-founder of Palantir. The company has been in talks with investment banks on the possibility of launching an initial public offering next year. Photo: Reuters

Secretive data-mining startup Palantir Technologies is exploring an initial public offering (IPO) with a valuation that could reach as much as US$41 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The Palo Alto, California-based company has been in talks with investment banks to go public as soon as the second half of 2019, the newspaper said.

Palantir was co-founded by Peter Thiel and Joe Lonsdale, two of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors and entrepreneurs.

Thanks to its lucrative data-mining business, Palantir was valued at US$20 billion in its last private fundraising round in 2015, which raised US$880 million, Reuters had reported.

The company has told investors it expects around US$750 million in revenue this year, up from about US$600 million in 2017.

Having said that, people familiar with the plans told the Journal that Palantir could ultimately decide to stay private.

Established in 2004, Palantir provides data tools to intelligence and other government agencies worldwide. Its staff, numbering about 2,000, do highly confidential work, and are embedded in military bases for its defense work as well as in banks, factories and corporate offices worldwide. 

The company uses algorithms to search for patterns and connections in massive sets of data. Its two main products are Gotham and Metropolis.

It is known to have helped the US government track down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as well as disrupt broader terrorist networks, the WSJ said.

And according to a leaked document obtained by TechCrunch, Palantir’s software was used to sort through massive datasets to help prosecute and convict Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff.

The company could be the latest to join the list of long-anticipated tech firms eyeing IPOs in 2019, including Uber, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, and Instacart.

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