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What is Palantir? This company co-founded by Peter Thiel will go public after 16 years

You may see Palantir in the news in the next few weeks. Here’s what the company does

SHARE What is Palantir? This company co-founded by Peter Thiel will go public after 16 years
In this Wednesday, May 15, 2019, file photo, Palantir CEO Alex Karp arrives for the Tech for Good summit in Paris. Palantir Technologies Inc., a data-mining company with deep ties to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, has shed a good deal of its trademark secrecy about its business in filing for a Wall Street stock offering, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

In this Wednesday, May 15, 2019, file photo, Palantir CEO Alex Karp arrives for the Tech for Good summit in Paris. Palantir Technologies Inc., a data-mining company with deep ties to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, has shed a good deal of its trademark secrecy about its business in filing for a Wall Street stock offering, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

Thibault Camus, Associated Press

Palantir Technologies will file to go public in the coming days, aiming to add itself to the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PLTR.”

Nuts and bolts:

  • The company — co-founded by Peter Thiel — has been in existence for 16 years.
  • It plans to debut with a direct listing, which is something that Slack and Spotify have both done in the past.
  • The company targeted a $26 billion valuation back in September, according to Reuters.
  • Palantir has been close to going public for years. Investors have long waited for the chance to invest in the company and buy shares.

What does ‘Palantir’ mean

  • According to CNBC, the term is a reference to the magic orb in “The Lord of the Rings,” which lets you see across far distances.

So what does Palantir do?

The company essentially helps people make sense of all their data, according to The New York Times. It will review plenty of information — from internet traffic to people cellphone records — and put it all together into something palatable.

The company has worked with the U.S. government on the country’s “most politically sensitive projects,” which includes identifying terrorists or tracking illegal immigrants, Reuters reports.

Palantir has also worked with countries to trace the spread of the novel coronavirus and manage medical supplies, according to Reuters.

Here’s how CNBC describes the company:

With Palantir’s software, clients can clean up a wide variety of data and then display it in various styles to enable many people to explore and take action on it. Recent enhancements enable users to create text documents, analyze data in spreadsheets and view information on maps. The software can run on Amazon or Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure or in customers’ on-premises data centers, and Palantir also offers professional services to help customers use its tools.

Will Palantir survive?

Here’s the thing though — major technology companies could build similar technologies. Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech giants could build a similar software and work with the government, too, according to The New York Times.

Jack Poulson, executive director of Tech Inquiry, which tracks the government work of tech companies, told The New York Times: “There has been an assumption that Palantir is the only major player in this space. But it is clear that is not the case.”