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Peter Thiel’s Palantir reveals $580 million losses in bid to go public

Big-data firm Palantir revealed it lost more than half a billon dollars in each of the last two years as it prepared to go public.

The secretive data-mining titan co-founded by tech tycoon Peter Thiel pulled back the curtain on its finances in a Tuesday filing for a direct listing that showed net losses of about $580 million in 2018 and 2019.

The red ink was nothing new for Palantir, which admitted in the filing that it has racked up losses every year since its inception in 2003. The Denver-based company lost another $164 million in the first six months of 2020 on revenues of about $481 million, though that was an improvement from the $280 million loss and roughly $323 million in revenue recorded in the same period last year.

Palantir said its results have gotten better in recent years as it expanded to serve private companies in addition to governments. Commercial customers made up 53 percent of its revenues last year, while the rest came from government clients, it said.

Palantir has faced scrutiny for the controversial surveillance work it performs for governments worldwide, which reportedly include US agencies such as the CIA, the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But co-founder and CEO Alex Karp defended that business model in the filing while taking aim at Silicon Valley giants that make money off their users.

“Software projects with our nation’s defense and intelligence agencies, whose missions are to keep us safe, have become controversial, while companies built on advertising dollars are commonplace,” Karp wrote in a letter attached to the filing. “For many consumer internet companies, our thoughts and inclinations, behaviors and browsing habits, are the product for sale. The slogans and marketing of many of the Valley’s largest technology firms attempt to obscure this simple fact.”

The filing marked a key step in Palantir’s plans to take its stock public through a direct listing, in which existing stockholders sell shares directly to new investors. The process is different from an initial public offering, where a company issues new stock to sell with help from an intermediary.

With Post wires

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