Palantir, the controversial analytics and data mining firm, still relies heavily on its US government contracts for revenue despite its public statements that it was branching out into more corporate clients, according to screenshots of the company’s S-1 filing acquired by TechCrunch. The financials, which the New York Times also has viewed, show Palantir has not once turned a profit since its founding in 2003.
Add to that the news it’s moving out of Silicon Valley because of “increasing intolerance and monoculture,” and you end up with a picture of a company that doesn’t have a lot of growth potential. It’s now clear Palantir is dependent on the current administration in Washington to maintain its existing revenue streams.
Palantir confidentially filed for an IPO last month, but has yet to announce when it will go public. The S-1 filing shows Palantir had revenue of $742.5 million in 2019, a 25 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. But that wasn’t enough to cover expenses; the company had a net loss of $580 million, according to the Times. It has a private market valuation of $20 billion, and has raised more than $3 billion in funding. That net loss is partly explained by how much money Palantir is burning on marketing — the company spent $450 million on marketing in two years.
As for the increase in revenue, $102 million came from existing Palantir customers, according to TechCrunch’s analysis. Palantir brought in $345.5 million from work with the US government last year, and $397 million from commercial clients, according to the Times.
Palantir is best known for its work with the US government, which have included a contract with the Army to develop a new intelligence interpretation platform, worth an estimated $823 million. It’s also worked in the past with US Customs and Border Protection to track immigrants and travelers at the border, and in 2018, was found to be secretly testing its predictive policing software in New Orleans.
More recently, Palantir was discovered to be building a tool for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to track the spread of the coronavirus. It remains unclear how that data is being used and collected.
Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel supported President Trump’s election in 2016, and he has reportedly used his status as a member of Facebook’s board of directors to push policies that help the president, especially when it comes to oversight of political ads on the platform. Early on, Thiel supported the president’s reelection, but last month reportedly said he was distancing himself from Trump.
The last 12 months have been a tough time for unicorns; the much-anticipated WeWork IPO flopped and was withdrawn, resulting in co-founder Adam Neumann leaving (with a $1.7 billion payout) and suing investor SoftBank for breach of contract. Short-term rental platform Airbnb confidentially filed for an IPO last week, with the Wall Street Journal valuing the company at about half of its peak 2017 value. So it’s hard to predict who, in 2020, would seek to buy stock in a company known for its secrecy and technology with questionable privacy controls. Especially since these documents suggest Palantir falls short of the hype.