Palantir, The Most Secret Company Ever:
Why You Should Work There
Palantir was funded by the CIA for a very good reason.
Before we get started here, let’s get a couple things out of the way. First of all, take all of your political leanings or ideas and lock them up in a mental safe for a few minutes. This is not a political article, and you need to absorb this information objectively. Second, if you own a tin-foil hat, do your very best to leave the conspiracies alone while you read. I’ll admit that won’t be easy, but do your best. Okay, ready?
Palantir is All About Big Data, but Bigger
It’s no secret that data collection and data analysis is the gold rush of our times. From small social media agencies to Wall Street to every major corporation and government on the planet, the key to finding answers, developing new products, attracting customers, and making big decisions is now dependent on how much data can be collected and how precisely it can be analyzed. Of course in reality that’s always been the case, but we didn’t all have 24/7 digital lives in the past. Today the company who can organize, disseminate, and analyze the data the fastest and the most accurately wins. And in the big picture – the really big picture – that company is Palantir.
Never heard of Palantir? Then you can throw your Conspiracy Club member card away, because they won’t accept you anymore. The name comes from the “seeing stone” in The Lord of the Rings. The company was started by Peter Thiel and a few others back in 2004. Today their products are the engine that drives the global NSA spying program, according to The Intercept. While we can neither confirm nor deny such a claim, what we do know is that Palantir has a customer base that consists primarily of government agencies, including intelligence agencies. They were also partially funded by In-Q-Tel, the venture capital branch of the CIA. So there’s that.
Superman and Batman
The two core products that Palantir developed are Metropolis, used by financial institutions, and Gotham, used by government agencies. They essentially do the same thing though, and that is taking vast amounts of disparate data and analyzing them in a way that mere mortals can understand and use to make decisions. Like combining Superman’s X-ray vision and super-hearing with Batman’s next generation computer in the Batcave, if you will. Financial institutions use the technology to keep their customer’s data safe and to for predictive analytics and quantitative analysis to make better financial decisions.
Gotham analyzes both structured data, like spreadsheets, and unstructured data, like images, from a wide variety of sources, to do whatever it is the particular agency needs to do with it. One current example is it’s use by DHS and ICE to track and find illegal aliens (or undocumented workers) in following the president’s recent orders in that area (note how carefully I’m treading here with the wording). For the more conspiratorial-minded, Gotham is the closest thing to the systems we see in all the movies where the spy/intelligence agency can track anyone, anywhere, by tapping into… well, anything. I don’t know just how close that is to the truth, and I’m not sure I want to.
So why would you want to work there? Ummm… ultra-cool movie-like technology, government contracts (read: not going out of business anytime soon), the bleeding edge of artificial intelligence and various other awesome technologies, do I have to keep going? If you grew up understanding that 007 could never do his job properly with the genius of Q backing him up, then Palantir is right up your alley.