Controversial Data Startup Palantir Moves Closer to IPO

Palantir, the secretive data-analytics company cofounded by Peter Thiel, is raising nearly $1 billion as it works toward a possible public offering.

In a regulatory filing Wednesday, the company said its raised $549.7 million from unnamed investors since early March and hopes to sell up to $411.4 million more for a grand total of $961.1 million worth of stock.

Bloomberg reported in June that Palantir was planning to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO as soon as September. As TechCrunch notes, it's not clear if this fundraising round has anything to do with those plans. The private placements could also hint at a direct listing instead of a traditional IPO, something that's been gaining steam among tech companies like Spotify and Slack.

Palantir's value has also appeared to shrink in recent years, with shares hitting secondary markets at heavy discounts. The company in June lowered the strike price for employees to buy their contract options. In 2015, Palantir was valued as much as $20 billion but secondary shares have hinted at valuations between $8 billion and $12 billion.

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At the same time, the company's work — and Trump-supporting cofounder — have only become more controversial. The company's approach to finding big patterns in data sets has found a niche among law enforcement for filtering through phone records, photos, vehicle information, financial transactions, and more. It's also made significant revenue from contracts with the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, whose agents are said to use Palantir's apps.

Met with protests at its Silicon Valley office, cofounder Joe Lonsdale said in 2019 that Palantir “is probably the most patriotic company in the Valley. It's done amazing work for the US government.”

Disclosure: Palantir Technologies CEO Alexander Karp is a member of Axel Springer's shareholder committee. Axel Springer owns Insider Inc, Business Insider's parent company.

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Read more from Graham Rapier at Business

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