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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.

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