Whether it be the wild presidential campaign, unusual number of celebrity deaths, or the disappointingly sluggish IPO market, 2016 has been a rough year. Luckily, investors are already looking to shake things off and welcome in the New Year with several marquee IPOs, possibly including the mysterious big data company Palantir Technologies.
Palantir Technologies was founded in 2004 by two Silicon Valley heavyweights, Peter Thiel and Joe Lonsdale. Thiel, who also co-founded Paypal (PYPL), created Palantir to be a "mission-oriented company" that would use unique software to prevent terrorism and financial fraud.
Palantir is best known for two different software projects, "Palantir Gotham" and "Palantir Metropolis," and the company also offers a wide variety of solutions related to fraud identification, homeland and cyber security, disaster preparedness, and investing.
What Is Big Data?
Over the past several years, Palantir has emerged as one of the world's premier "Big Data" solutions experts. However, the phrase "Big Data" is quickly becoming a buzzword that not many people truly understand.
Luckily, this concept is relatively self-explanatory. Big data companies seek to provide customers with software that helps them manage immense amounts of real-world data. These types of solutions interest everyone from hedge fund managers to FBI detectives, as a wide range of fields benefit from being able to efficiently scour large amounts of information.
For example, an institutional investor can better keep up with the world of algorithm trading by using a software that stores and sorts through a vast library of stock-related data. At the same time, law enforcement agencies look for big data solutions in order to connect databases across many different governments and departments.
Clients and Accomplishments
Looking at Palantir specifically, the company's solutions have been used in several notable cases, including the discovery of the infamous Chinese espionage networks, Ghostnet and the Shadow Network. Palatir technology was also rumored to be have been used in the search for Osama Bin Laden.
Palantir's customer list currently includes the Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Center for Disease Control, several branches of the armed forces, and a range of private clients.
Preparing for Palantir IPO
Palantir has yet to lay out any specific plans for an IPO, but after its latest round of private funding, investors are beginning to get excited about the potential for a blockbuster debut in the near future. Late last year, the company completed a funding round that raised $880 million and put its valuation at $20 billion. Analysts have estimated Palantir's 2015 revenue to have been around $1.5 billion.
Interestingly enough, investors seem to be even giddier about Palantir in the post-election environment. This post-election bump comes as President-elect Donald Trump has aligned himself closely with Palantir founder Peter Thiel.
Just this week, Palantir CEO Alex Karp joined some of the technology industry's biggest leaders, including executives from Apple AAPL , Facebook FB , Amazon AMZN , Alphabet GOOGL , and many others at a meeting with Trump and his transition team in New York.
Thiel is Trump's closest tech advisor, and the company's counterterrorism offerings seem to fit in well with the president-elect's "law and order" platform. Palantir now has a seat at the table-literally-with some of tech's most influential names.
For now, talks of Palantir IPO remain a combination of speculation and anticipation. The company's big data business boasts an interesting clientele, and its products deal with inherently secretive situations, which only adds to the lore surrounding its market debut.
On paper, it certainly seems like today's political climate works well with Palantir's services. The world continues to move towards a "big data culture" and information related to national safety is being collected at a higher rate than ever before.
Whatever the case may be, investors should definitely keep an eye on Thiel and Palantir as the company looks to position itself for further success soon.
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