“The minute companies go public, they are less competitive." Do you know who said that? Palantir CEO Alex Karp, back in 2014. Why is that quote interesting? No real reason.

Anyways, Palantir Technologies ($PALANTIR) is going public soon, as it filed for an IPO officially this week. The now less competitive company, Karp's words not ours, said in a short statement: "The public listing is expected to take place after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions." So we don't know exactly when this will all shake down, but suffice it to say, the Palo Alto-based tech firm wants to light up the stock market the same way it does with data analytics.

So what is Palantir, who made it, what do they, why are they worth so much, and what will the company look like after the IPO? Let's dive in.

Thanks J.R.R. Tolkien?

Palantir was created by infamous investor Peter Thiel in 2003, and the company was named Palantir after an item from The Lord of the Rings mythology. Thiel, who also co-founded PayPal, took similar technology and applied it to big data instead of paying for goods and services. Very quickly, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen, Joe Lonsdale, and Nathan Gettings all came together to not only create Palantir, but establish it as a primary contract partner of various branches of the US Government, law enforcement, and military agencies.

While a lot of tech companies are contracted by the government or military to help combat terrorism, human trafficking, pandemics, and other work, Palantir has come under fire recently for making hundreds of millions of dollars from a deal with ICE. A wave of protests have hit the company, and CEO Alex Karp, for helping the Trump administration kick people out of the country solely based on racist practices.

Big data

Palantir has quickly grown over the last 17 years, adding $3 billion in funding as well as 2,500+ employees. Backers include a myriad of big-name big-spenders, like the CIA's investment arm, Fidelity, and Tiger Global.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the IPO have tag-teamed to drop job listings to around 50, down 77% from what it was in October. There is no shortage of tech companies that continued to generate revenue while also slashing job postings during (and through ongoing) pandemic uncertainty, and made successful market debuts, though. 

Although the business practices, and government contracts, have inflated Palantir's notoriety from critics, the company's Twitter following has more than doubled over the past five years. However, at a time when tech stocks are soaring - as the broader market struggles to maintain pace - "any time" may be the right time for a controversial tech company like Palantir to generate returns for its investors, and investors still seem bullish on new offerings. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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