"It Was Wall Street Meets Apocalypse Now": Why Palantir "Knows Everything About You"

Palantir, the secretive Silicon Valley startup that is an object of popular fascination thanks to its work with US intelligence, is having a surprisingly difficult time recruiting clients among the world's largest companies - a line of business that its backers, a group that includes PayPal founder Peter Thiel, have identified as crucial to the company's long-term survival and profitability.

In one of the first looks under the company's hood, Bloomberg revealed that Palantir has never turned a profit - despite being valued at $20 billion in 2015. The company has roughly 2,000 engineers deployed at various client sites. But the company's high installation and maintenance fees have repelled several potential clients.

But in addition to details about the companies finances and business model, the sprawling piece also included several alarming examples of what can only be described as NSA-like overreach by the company. The story begins at JP Morgan, where former secret service agent Peter Cavicchia III ran special operations for the bank ensconced in an office suite in the top floors of JPM's Jersey City building.

Cavicchia's colleagues said the bank allowed the 120 Palantir engineers who worked inside its offices and Cavicchia, their leader, almost unchecked surveillance power. And pretty soon employees at the bank became paranoid that the extent of Palantir's surveillance had become too scary to ignore. Even the bank's senior executives were being watched, according to BBG's sources (who, we imagine, leaked this information despite the immense risk of being caught and fired).

Over time, however, Cavicchia himself went rogue. Former JPMorgan colleagues describe the environment as Wall Street meets Apocalypse Now, with Cavicchia as Colonel Kurtz, ensconced upriver in his office suite eight floors above the rest of the bank’s security team. People in the department were shocked that no one from the bank or Palantir set any real limits. They darkly joked that Cavicchia was listening to their calls, reading their emails, watching them come and go. Some planted fake information in their communications to see if Cavicchia would mention it at meetings, which he did.

It all ended when the bank’s senior executives learned that they, too, were being watched, and what began as a promising marriage of masters of big data and global finance descended into a spying scandal. The misadventure, which has never been reported, also marked an ominous turn for Palantir, one of the most richly valued startups in Silicon Valley. An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.

And JPM was just the beginning. As BBG explains, Palantir's specialty is using its data analytics powers to draw connections that weaker software might miss. For example, determining that an employee is disgruntled based on the fact that he or she stopped showing up to work on time.

The company presents its findings in a graphic known as a spidergram.

Spider

Yet, despite many documented incidences of the company's tendency to abuse the trust of its clients and occasionally the government, Palantir has been allowed to grow at an unchecked rate.

In a ruling that appears to create a troubling legal precedent, Bloomberg recounts a lawsuit brought against Palantir by another data analytics firm called I2. I2 alleged that Palantir hired a private eye firm to contract with I2 to use I2's software, then turned the software over to Palantir. I2 sued Palantir for fraud and conspiring to steal intellectual property. In response, Palantir's lawyers argued that an overpowering national security interest justified Palantir's actions - and the judge agreed.

I2 sued Palantir in federal court, alleging fraud, conspiracy, and copyright infringement. In its legal response, Palantir argued it had the right to appropriate I2’s code for the greater good. “What’s at stake here is the ability of critical national security, defense and intelligence agencies to access their own data and use it interoperably in whichever platform they choose in order to most effectively protect the citizenry,” Palantir said in its motion to dismiss I2’s suit.

In one adventure missing from the glowing accounts of Palantir’s early rise, I2 accused Palantir of misappropriating its intellectual property through a Florida shell company registered to the family of a Palantir executive. A company claiming to be a private eye firm had been licensing I2 software and development tools and spiriting them to Palantir for more than four years. I2 said the cutout was registered to the family of Shyam Sankar, Palantir’s director of business development.

The motion was denied. Palantir agreed to pay I2 about $10 million to settle the suit. I2 was sold to IBM in 2011. Sankar, Palantir employee No. 13 and now one of the company’s top executives, also showed up in another Palantir scandal: the company’s 2010 proposal for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to run a secret sabotage campaign against the group’s liberal opponents.

In one particularly memorable scandal involving Palantir, leaked emails released by anonymous showed the company offering to spy on progressive activists while working for the Chamber of Commerce.

Hacked emails released by the group Anonymous indicated that Palantir and two other defense contractors pitched outside lawyers for the organization on a plan to snoop on the families of progressive activists, create fake identities to infiltrate left-leaning groups, scrape social media with bots, and plant false information with liberal groups to subsequently discredit them.

After the emails emerged in the press, Palantir offered an explanation similar to the one it provided in March for its U.K.-based employee’s assistance to Cambridge Analytica: It was the work of a single rogue employee. The company never explained Sankar’s involvement. Karp issued a public apology and said he and Palantir were deeply committed to progressive causes. Palantir set up an advisory panel on privacy and civil liberties, headed by a former CIA attorney, and beefed up an engineering group it calls the Privacy and Civil Liberties Team. The company now has about 10 PCL engineers on call to help vet clients’ requests for access to data troves and pitch in with pertinent thoughts about law, morality, and machines.

One might expect, given its unparalleled snooping prowess, that Palantir's services would be in-demand in corporate America. However, the company has had only "mixed" results with corporate clients. Its work for the government occupies a much larger share of the organization's manpower.

The company’s early data mining dazzled venture investors, who valued it at $20 billion in 2015. But Palantir has never reported a profit. It operates less like a conventional software company than like a consultancy, deploying roughly half its 2,000 engineers to client sites. That works at well-funded government spy agencies seeking specialized applications but has produced mixed results with corporate clients. Palantir’s high installation and maintenance costs repelled customers such as Hershey Co., which trumpeted a Palantir partnership in 2015 only to walk away two years later. Coca-Cola, Nasdaq, American Express, and Home Depot have also dumped Palantir.

Karp recognized the high-touch model was problematic early in the company’s push into the corporate market, but solutions have been elusive. “We didn’t want to be a services company. We wanted to do something that was cost-efficient,” he confessed at a European conference in 2010, in one of several unguarded comments captured in videos posted online. “Of course, what we didn’t recognize was that this would be much, much harder than we realized.”

In a development that could very well make or break Palantir's business, the company is in the process of launching a new product called Foundry that is already being used by Airbus and a handful of other corporate clients. But Foundry's success is critical for pulling Palantir out of a slump that has inspired some of its backers to write down the value of their stakes.

Palantir’s newest product, Foundry, aims to finally break through the profitability barrier with more automation and less need for on-site engineers. Airbus SE, the big European plane maker, uses Foundry to crunch airline data about specific onboard components to track usage and maintenance and anticipate repair problems. Merck KGaA, the pharmaceutical giant, has a long-term Palantir contract to use Foundry in drug development and supply chain management.

Deeper adoption of Foundry in the commercial market is crucial to Palantir’s hopes of a big payday. Some investors are weary and have already written down their Palantir stakes. Morgan Stanley now values the company at $6 billion. Fred Alger Management Inc., which has owned stock since at least 2006, revalued Palantir in December at about $10 billion, according to Bloomberg Holdings. One frustrated investor, Marc Abramowitz, recently won a court order for Palantir to show him its books, as part of a lawsuit he filed alleging the company sabotaged his attempt to find a buyer for the Palantir shares he has owned for more than a decade.

But Palantir has also enabled the LAPD to build an expansive gang database that, while effective at aiding in arrests, has also inadvertently led some people to be wrongly profiled as gang members.

In 2016, Rios was sitting in a parked car with an Eastside 18 friend when a police car pulled up. His buddy ran, pursued by the cops, but Rios stayed put. “Why should I run? I’m not a gang member,” he says over steak and eggs at the IHOP near his home. The police returned and handcuffed him. One of them took his picture with a cellphone. “Welcome to the gang database!” the officer said. Since then he’s been stopped more than a dozen times, he says, and told that if he doesn’t like it he should move. He has nowhere to go. His girlfriend just had a baby girl, and he wants to be around for them. “They say you’re in the system, you can’t lie to us,” he says. “I tell them, ‘How can I be in the hood if I haven’t got jumped in? Can’t you guys tell people who bang and who don’t?’ They go by their facts, not the real facts.”

While Bloomberg presents Palantir as a struggling business, we have a sneaking suspicion that the US government wouldn't allow one of its favorite contractors to go under. Even at an immense cost to taxpayers, we imagine Palantir will endure - and our standards of digital privacy will be all the worse for it.

Comments

TeethVillage88s NoDebt Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:12 Permalink

Hey I think they have this operating in my small city, fly-over-country.

- But think it is  not limited to any level of govt, local, county, state, federal, in other words multi-agency

- History of spying in the USA... started with the Post Master General, right?

- Stasi History, they had photos in Nazi Germany and East German Stasi, probably the Communist party in Germany & Europe too

- The Octopus Network that surrounds us now is a James Bond Billian's Dream, we actually are living in a progression from Cold War Thugs, War Criminals, Nazi Migrants, German & Japanese Weapons Expertise, Rocket Science, Satellites, and 1984 Dystopia

In reply to by NoDebt

sgt_doom FireBrander Sat, 04/21/2018 - 13:23 Permalink

 

 

Here Are The Dots . . . . . . . You Do The Connecting !

(Cambridge Analytica, Palantir, CIA, American Friends of Bilderberg, Black Cube, China, Microsoft, Apple, Narus, China’s Social Credit System:  Orwellian to the max!)

During congressional questioning of Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sen. Cantwell made mention of Peter Thiel who, as an original investor of Facebook, sits on their board.  This line of questioning arose because Thiel’s company, Palantir, interfaced with Cambridge Analytica concerning their data harvesting, i.e., Palantir personnel were seen repeatedly at the offices of Cambridge Analytica, working with them.

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2018/04/senate-hearing-facebook-ceo-zuckerberg-is-questioned-on-ties-to-cia-funded-company/

 

Thanks to Robert Scheer’s book (“They Know Everything About You”), we know that it was Richard Perle who connected Peter Thiel and his Palantir company to CIA contracts by way of introducing Thiel to Adm. Poindexter, and those CIA contracts would make Palantir’s existence and growth for at least the next three years.  Scheer, in his book, pondered how Thiel came to know Perle?

We know from the IRS form below that Peter Thiel was a major donor to American Friends of Bilderberg, Inc., whose board consisted of David Rockefeller (now deceased), Henry Kissinger, Jessica Mathew, Richard Perle, et al. and Thiel attended gatherings of this group.

https://sithhc.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/americanbilderberg-2008.pdf

Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, utilized a shady private intel firm, Black Cube (with offices in Tel Aviv, London and Paris), the same outfit which Harvey Weinstein used to go after the actress Rose McGowan.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/harvey-weinsteins-army-of-spies

Black Cube has been involved with some murky operations, and I suspect it was the same bunch that Peter Thiel hired to go after Gawker.

https://medium.com/romania-corruption-watch/black-cube-how-did-an-israeli-intelligence-agency-land-contracts-worth-1-5-million-in-romania-f1383c9257b1

Why should anyone be concerned that libertarian Peter Thiel and his intel contractor, Palantir --- once in the news because of their association with Stratfor and other such outfits who were actively perpetrating false news/false data operations against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange --- is involved with Robert Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica, in the news for their data harvesting, but also most crucial in identifying and targeting key electoral vote districts in order for Trump to win the presidency?

Because government intel contractors have a bad habit of later working for totalitarian states like China; a perfect example being Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, now CEO of Frontier Services Group and working as an agent for the government of China, who is also the primary investor in Prince’s Frontier Services Group.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/aramroston/betsy-devoss-brother-is-setting-up-a-private-army-for-china?utm_term=.utB9EQ6e7#.lrPYMxvPe

Just recently, Li Wenzu, loving and loyal wife of a disappeared human rights attorney, Wang Quanzhang, was arrested during her 60-mile march (100km) between Beijing to Tianjin, where she believes her husband is being held.  The police force Li Wenzu to return to Beijing, halting any attention directed at the arrest/disappearance of her husband, along with seven hundred and eight (708) other human rights attorneys who all went missing in 2015, known as the government’s “709 crackdown.”

https://www.scmp.com/video/china/2140430/detained-chinese-lawyers-wife-marches-demand-explanation-his-arrest

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/march-04092018135125.html

China has begun implementing a “social credit system” which uses full spectrum surveillance on its citizenry by way of emails, social media spying, landline and cell phone surveillance, recording of both online and retail purchases, etc., any action comment or activity deemed to be subversive which can ultimately restrict a citizen’s access to transportation (plane and train), education, employment, housing, etc.!

China is able to implement this system, with the goal of national implementation by 2020, with the help of Microsoft and Apple, whose servers will yield any and all personal data to China’s government.

Back in 2005 Narus sold their deep packet inspection software to China’s government, greatly facilitating their online spying capabilities!

https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-chinese-regimes-social-credit-dystopia_2473100.html

Google, to its credit, was ordered by China to hand over personal data but refused, pulling out of China.  Recall that Yahoo’s Jerry Yang gave up personal data on a Chinese pro-democracy activist who was then promptly disappeared by China’s government!

China and the USA are quickly converging, with full spectrum surveillance of their populations:  in China, it is done by the government and military which are the owners of the corporations there; in America it is performed by both the government, government contractors and private corporations which sell or give that information back to the government.  China will have their Social Credit System, while America will have its “Uber Economy” --- both based upon digital exploitation of workers, except that the Uber-based economy is more so directed at the ultimate control of non-employee workers!

The outcomes will eventually be the same.

In China, sadly, probably some or all of those disappeared attorneys (709 at last count) will be victims of forced organ harvesting --- and it is the data harvesting which leads to the forced organ harvesting!

Some Further Reading:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights/in-2015-china-crushed-rights-lawyers-but-activists-are-still-organizing-idUSKBN19U05T

https://www.scmp.com/video/china/2140430/detained-chinese-lawyers-wife-marches-demand-explanation-his-arrest

http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/microsoft-claims-unique-cloud-status-in-china/

http://www.alphr.com/life-culture/1008892/amnesty-international-apple-icloud-china

https://advox.globalvoices.org/2018/02/10/how-apple-is-paving-the-way-to-a-cloud-dictatorship-in-china/

https://globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/China-Map-apple-800x450.jpg

https://chinachangedotorg.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/anti-torture.jpg?w=960

 

In reply to by FireBrander

TeethVillage88s ThrowAwayYourTV Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:21 Permalink

Any word from the US BAR Association?  They self Regulate all of the USA, Industry, Civil Court, DC Courts, Lobbying, Foreign Agents, Politics, Judicial Branch, all judges

http://www.americanbar.org/

https://www.americanbar.org/about_the_aba/contact.html (surprise, located in Chicago)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Bar_Association

https://www.hg.org/bar-associations-usa.html (State Local Listings)

https://www.freedomwatchusa.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Klayman

https://www.judicialwatch.org/

ExposeFacts – For Whistleblowers, Journalism and Democracy

 

 

 

 

In reply to by ThrowAwayYourTV

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Fri, 04/20/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Palantir was the all-seeing orb in Lord of the Rings. Mithril Capital? Hahahaha! Mithril was the lightweight super armor fashioned by the dwarves. Interesting company names. "Nine rings to rule the world and one ring to bind them." Of course there is a wiki page! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Ring This is the exact quote (to the keepers of the lore, forgive me my sins): "Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. The lines inscribed on the Ring (in boldface above) were pronounced by Sauron when he forged the Ring. The Elven smiths heard him chanting them, and thereupon became aware of his purpose and took off their own Rings to foil his plan." If you want to play the game: www.lotro.com Wiki page for the MMORPG: http://lotro-wiki.com

Feant, Brandywine, 2009

Endgame Napoleon HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Fri, 04/20/2018 - 19:14 Permalink

If it wasn’t so Orwellian, I would say install Palantir's system in all of the absentee-mom-gang offices across corporate America and government agencies. This should boost Palantir's stock to the sky, given all of the discriminatory hiring / retention. Watch productivity and sales generation / account retention numbers rocket up since crony-momma flextime managers, too, would be under the Palantir Eye. Crony-momma manager says, no, do not answer that Palantir B2B number, when you are manning the phones during my 12th two-week babyvacation for the year, churn-able and chump-like hard worker who is not a culture fit despite high sales numbers.  

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

stampman Endgame Napoleon Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:37 Permalink

There's a typical mom gang running the Ocotillo Wells Offroad Recreational Vehicle State Park in San Diego County.  I applied for a low level maintenance job there a few years ago.  Never heard back from the state park, but I did hear back from people in town, as my application had been passed around by those women like a bong.

A couple years later tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds was found being hidden by the California state parks bureaucracy, and a statewide order was sent out to all parks bureaucrats tp preseve all documentation and communications.  But the momgang person in charge of Ocotillo Wells Offroad Recreational Vehicle State Park had them all destroyed at her post instead.  She was supposed to have been in trouble, but all of that news disappeared from the scene over the next few months, never to be discussed in media or gummint again.

Every bureaucracy in CA is now so corrupt that it is a given that every state employee needs to spend 7-11 years at Camp FEMA learning right from wrong again.  Every single one of them.

We also had a similar gang at the USPS in my town.  There was only one male worker in 18 years, and he only lasted a few weeks.  When the postmaster/ringleader was about to retire, the USPIA swooped in and locked her out.  But USPIA would never tell us what was stolen, what was missing, or what happened.  And it is still basically a female gang running that PO.

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon

DuneCreature Fri, 04/20/2018 - 18:29 Permalink

Palantir = Born of theft, fraud and murder. (Built on the Inshaw software.)

Stolen again and back-doored by the CIA.

Now used by the social media lying creeps AND the police state to track your every move and thought.

Live Hard, Even The Spooks, Pirates and Thugs Kill Each Other Today Over This Spy-On-Everyone Software Package And The Ability To Kill Anyone Getting In Their Way Of Using It On All The Rest Of The Chattel, Die Free

~ DC v8.8

GeoffreyT Fri, 04/20/2018 - 19:53 Permalink

Palantir couldn't secure its own data, and its little more than moderately-sophisticated keyword searches plus a yEd/Gephi node/link graph generator.

Like most firms who hawk their shit through Rolodex (i.e., having a personal network that enables you to get in front of some C-suite 60-something who has his PA print out his e-mails), they are far less imposing than what their media reportage would have you believe.

What's more important though: the sorts of people who want to be part of shit like this, are second-rate. Take this Ceviche fuckhead - he simply could not resist big-noting himself internally, and thereby 'burnt' the entire operation.

Known surveillance - where the target knows that he is being surveilled - is only useful for changing target behaviour: it's no good for obtaining intelligence or additional network information.

One of the best ways to determine whether or not a thing is a credible threat: if it's funded by government, the answer is no.

If it can't protect its own data, that's the cherry on top. If anyone has the word "cybersecurity" on their business cards, then they're just a grifter, nothing more. There's no need to fear them, and anything spent on their products or services is a waste of money. The only reason to engage with them at all is in order to get into their networks, which are usually porous as fuck: just what you would expect in an environment characterised by hubris.

TeethVillage88s GeoffreyT Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:24 Permalink

HonestAnn is right.  The world is full of Predators.  There are so many of them and so much money sloshing around that we have reached critical mass.  The 1% Psycho paths of the human race are about to destroy not only the Shining Light of the American Idea... Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, right to pursuit wealth and the middle class, and right to pursuit property ownership... BUT will also destroy civilization.  Back to Slavery!

In reply to by GeoffreyT

Oldguy05 Fri, 04/20/2018 - 20:08 Permalink

" on a plan to snoop on the families of progressive activists, create fake identities to infiltrate left-leaning groups, scrape social media with bots, and plant false information with liberal groups to subsequently discredit them..."

 

Wut's not to like? But from what I see, they have failed. ...MSM must be much moar in tune with the current program.

amanfromMars Sat, 04/21/2018 - 03:45 Permalink

If Palantir acts like a phish and smells like a phish, it is a phish and desperate thief of Others' Top Secrets/Sensitive Compartmented Information to which it has Zero Proprietary Intellectual Property Rights.

And you can be sure they are not alone creating the same sort of stink in many rotten barrels, for Total Information Awareness, successfully analysed for deposition in future applications, is the Great Game Changer against which there is no Viable Defence or Attack Vector? 

And shared there as a number of questions for Doubting Thomases to Ponder? 

 

the Dood Sat, 04/21/2018 - 04:19 Permalink

Palantir will endure because it does what nobody else can do and it does it free of charge to get it's clients hooked on it. It's like the years Amazon didn't turn a profit, it gains market share. It's not some top heavy bureaucrats pulling this tech, it's the analysts pushing it. I2 on the other hand hawks overpriced garbage to the top, hires retiring government functionaries with trumped up wages as legal kickback, the analysts hate it, and then it sues their darling Palantir in the process.

stampman Sat, 04/21/2018 - 09:18 Permalink

Peter Thiel owes me well over $10k in spurious fees plus penalties and interest from a bogus bank known as PayPal that was unlawfully imposed on every eBay seller.

I intend to collect my money stolen by Peter Thiel, and Peter Thiel cannot run far enough.