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Palantir Reveals Business Details Before Going Public

In a regulatory filing, the secretive firm revealed key financial and operational details — including a surprisingly small number of customers and a far greater focus on federal agencies than state and local government.

by / August 26, 2020

Palantir, a relatively secretive tech company with a large stake in government contracts, has revealed a bevy of information about itself in a federal regulatory filing as it prepares to enter the stock market.

The company’s S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission details financial information about the company as well as its history, its customer base and its activities. Its revenue for 2019 was about $743 million, and it marked a net loss of about $580 million. It’s not uncommon for companies entering the stock market to maintain net losses. Further, the company’s losses have been shrinking over time as its revenue has steadily grown.

Here is some of the most notable information in the document:

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT A LARGE FOCUS FOR PALANTIR

The company splits its revenue fairly evenly between the public and private sector: In 2019, 53 percent of its revenue came from commercial customers while 47 percent came from government. In the first half of 2020, 54 percent came from government and 46 percent came from commercial clients.

Tellingly, it described the segment of its business devoted to government as “primarily (serving) customers that are agencies in the U.S. federal government and non-U.S. governments.”

It’s well-documented that Palantir works with law enforcement agencies in the U.S., but a chart in the filing gave some more detail about other niches in the public sector it operates in. They include energy, regulatory agencies, health, justice and transportation offices.

While the document gave detailed descriptions of what it offers through its two core platforms (see below), it did not offer much insight into how its state and local government customers use them. It wrote that police officers could use its products to collaborate on investigations and enter reports, and that it could enable district attorneys to “map out complex criminal networks in order to decide where to focus resources, identify witnesses to interview and how to present complex narratives to juries.”

ITS BUSINESS IS HIGHLY CONCENTRATED AMONG RELATIVELY FEW CUSTOMERS

For the first half of 2020, Palantir had just 125 customers from which it earned $481 million in revenue. Compare that to another company with a large footprint among law enforcement and commercial clients, Motorola Solutions, which wrote in its 2019 annual report that it had more than 100,000 customers generating $7.8 billion in sales.

Not only does it serve a relatively small group of customers, the company made it clear that the majority of its income is sourced from its 20 biggest clients. In the first half of 2020, for instance, its 20 largest customers provided about $300 million in revenue compared with $181 million from all others — meaning 62 percent of its income was from that pool of its largest clients. A full 21 percent of its revenue in the first half of the year came from two unspecified customers, one in government and one in the private sector.

That means that Palantir’s top 20 clients, on average, paid Palantir $15 million in the first half of 2020. The remaining 105, on average, paid $1.7 million.

LOTS OF DETAILS OF PALANTIR’S PRODUCTS

Credit: Palantir

In addition to general descriptions of its two core platforms, Gotham and Foundry, the company’s filing went into detail on applications it offers through each. Those details showed Gotham as a more government-oriented product oriented toward end users who want to collaborate with one another, and Foundry as a commercially focused offering with lots of tools for developers and data analysts.

The apps available through Gotham include:

  • Graph: A “whiteboard-like interface” with various tools to help show the relationship between various data points, such as a criminal suspect’s activities over time.
  • Dossier: A collaborative document editor.
  • Stencil: Collaborative report and data entry tools.
  • Video: A way to view streamed and stored video, and match it with maps or other data.
  • Ava: Artificial intelligence to identify patterns in large data sets.

The platform also includes tools for mobile access as well as the capability to use applications without access to the Internet.

PALANTIR’S PAST AND FUTURE

The company has attracted criticism in the past for work with law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the activities of its leadership, particularly Peter Thiel. Thiel, who co-founded the company in 2003, helped bankroll a lawsuit that shut down a news website after it outed him as gay. He has also stirred public anger for comments such as an apparent belief that the U.S. shouldn’t have given women the right to vote.

The company plans to enter the New York Stock Exchange at an undisclosed date with the ticker symbol PLTR. It plans on a direct listing rather than the more traditional initial public offering, meaning that it won’t create new shares as it goes public.

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Ben Miller Associate Editor of GT Data and Business

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.


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