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With Palantir, an analyst could pull up a map of an area soldiers were about to patrol, draw a bubble around it, and see where improvised explosive devices had gone off in past weeks or months. A much-vaunted joint venture with Credit Suisse to police the bank’s own employees was also deemed a “complete bust.” In addition, Palantir appears to be out of favor in some intelligence and national-security circles. It’s often repeated in articles, for example, that Karp studied in Germany under Jürgen Habermas, perhaps the most influential living philosopher. But Microsoft is not embedding software engineers in Afghanistan to help soldiers with Excel.

“As soon as there’s an IPO, I will short the stock,” he said.

The issue, they said, was the way the company had ignored the rules by giving away free goods and services in the form of Palantir software and training.

Palantir’s marketing campaign had not only worked, but the Pentagon was essentially picking up the tab for it. According to emails obtained by the Appeal under FOIA, a Palantir employee assisted ICE’s Violent Gang Unit.

The company emphasizes that it has reduced the time needed to get its software up and running, and former officials told me Palantir has made big improvements to its back end over the years.

He had seen a recent article about Palantir, he said, and he was shocked at Karp’s transformation.

The need for customization points to a deeper problem for Palantir. “The more powerful and interesting it became, the higher the tax on you for using it,” Tumin said.

He dispatched a member of his analytics staff to help Bronx detectives use Palantir to create a map of gang members and their activities, marrying data from social media and a wide variety of government sources. A crystal ball for the NHS Palantir, a data firm loved by spooks, teams up with Britain’s health service.

Thiel put in the seed money, and after a few years of pitching investors, Palantir got its first major breakthrough in the national-security world with an estimated $2 million investment from In-Q-Tel, a venture-capital firm set up by the CIA. So why are people still so excited about Palantir? “It was too kludgy — it was built for a generic something or other.”

In 2019, although its revenues grew by 25 percent, Palantir lost nearly $600 million for the second year in a row.

This could... Ah Hailey Bieber appears to be wearing inside out joggers, 25 Ultra-Chic Bridal Shower Hostess Gift Ideas. It wasn’t only a magic code doing the cleanup; it was human beings — and even locating someone who could explain what needed to be done had proven time consuming. It’s messy, like the real world it reflects and records, and it doesn’t always fit into software with any sort of mathematical precision. But users of DCGS–A, particularly those with no training in intelligence systems, found it to be clunky and prone to crashing.

Palantir, Tumin recalled, was a “highly effective” tool, but its help didn’t come cheap. Photo: Busà Photography/Getty Images Back in 2003, John Poindexter got a call from Richard Perle, an old friend from their days serving together in the Reagan administration.

“The Army needs to move to a DCGS 2.0 quickly,” he told the Washington Times in 2016. “We go out back to the carriage house, and there were sleeping bags under the desks,” the former official recalled.

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Some 17 years after Karp and Thiel met with John Poindexter, full of confidence and short on engineering, the company was finally set to go public.

As recently as two years ago, its value was estimated at $20 billion, elevating it to the loftiest heights of the tech “unicorns,” privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion. She resolved the issue by putting the company on a modest contract to pay for what it had been providing for free.

“They did that in amounts of over a million dollars, I know for sure,” said a former senior Army official who was involved with the issue. But the user interface for Palantir was more like the everyday programs soldiers were accustomed to running on their PCs or Macs. Returning to the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks, he had begun researching ways to develop a data-mining program that was as spooky as its name: Total Information Awareness. As doors started to open in Washington, Palantir began to attract fans in the secretive communities of intelligence and national security.

“They all claim to take these disparate data sources and put them together and then discover these amazing correlations between variables.

“But they do not know more about how society should be organized or what justice requires.” (His argument ignores the fact that Palantir has been used to analyze data from social media, including Facebook posts.)

In court, Palantir’s lawyers, from the high-powered firm Boies Schiller Flexner, accused two Army intelligence officials of having a vendetta against the company that resulted in “six years of bias and prejudice and irrational behavior from the Army.” Hunter also worked to scuttle the nomination of one of the officials, Lieutenant General Mary Legere, who had been slated to become the first woman to head the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In Zero to One, his 2014 book on entrepreneurship, Thiel notes a critical move in PayPal’s success: In the early days, the company essentially paid people to sign up, handing out $10 to each new customer. The company has lost two of its biggest supporters in Washington. At the time, the primary software for integrating data on the battlefield was the Distributed Common Ground System–Army, which was being produced by leading defense contractors at a cost expected to exceed $10 billion.

The company, which has posted a news story repeating the rumor on its website, likes to shroud its supposed involvement in an air of mystery. “Being able to bring all that data together into one place helped us get a very precise idea of who was involved around a particular set of events,” Tumin said. Want to know how many aircraft are available for a specific mission and how long it will take them to get to their destination?

Thiel served on Trump’s transition team, and Palantir suddenly found itself with direct access to top administration officials. Several former national-security officials I spoke with — including some who support Palantir’s technology — expressed bewilderment over the company’s bridge-burning approach.

He was not only trained to use the company’s software but given a personal version to take with him.