Palantir Opens Books To Investors Ahead Of NYSE Listing

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Controversial loss-making data intelligence company to lay out its business to investors ahead of unusual direct listing on New York Stock Exchange

Controversial data-mining company Palantir is to hold a presentation for investors on Wednesday, ahead of a planned stock listing.

Palantir’s Investor Day event is to be livestreamed online at 3 p.m. BST, the company said, saying it would lay out its business to potential shareholders ahead of listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the coming weeks.

The Denver-based company is planning to list directly on the exchange rather than holding a conventional stock offering to raise capital, a path also taken by tech companies including Spotify and Slack.

However, Palantir is far from being comparable to other tech firms, according to industry watchers, who point out the unique nature of the firm’s business model and its public listing.

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Palantir was founded in 2003, in the wake of the 11 September attacks on New York City, and focuses on automating analysis tasks previously carried out by human intelligence agents.

The company has never been profitable, due in part to the necessity of customising its software for each client, and relies heavily on contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency, the US military and other branches of the US government.

It lost $580 million (£483m) on revenues of $743m last year, with almost half of its intake coming from government work. In all, the company has only 125 customers.

The company’s co-founder, Peter Thiel, is a well-known supporter of US president Donald Trump, and the firm has been criticised for taking on work such as helping the US customs agency identify illegal immigrants for deportation.

Its corporate governance structure is also highly unusual, for instance including a provision that gives Thiel and two other co-founders de-facto control over the company, even if their personal shareholdings are reduced almost to nothing.

Control

Thiel himself remains chairman and has has 29.8 per cent of a special class of supervoting shares.

Palantir has sought to portray its unique character as an advantage, distinguishing itself from other tech companies, which have often shied away from taking on controversial military contracts, as well as from conventional military contractors that lack a tech background.

In a regulatory filing, it argues its strategy will pay off in the long-term, as it aims to become “the default operating system across the US government”.

Such assertions caused some to question the wisdom of allowing Palantir to carry out Covid-19-related data analysis work in the UK earlier this year.

The investor event will be the first time Palantir has opened its books to the public.

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