So who is tech giant Palantir?
First they mine your data, then they monopolize your public park. Think they’ll put that on the T-shirts at Palantir?
Some residents of Palo Alto are peeved that the tech giant, a data mining powerhouse, is taking over some of the fields at Cubberley Community Center for a whopping 17 days, from April 24 to May 10, just at the time of year when many locals were breaking out picnic baskets for the first time in a beloved nod to the rites of spring.
Since the company has long been shrouded in veils of secrecy, we figured it was time for a wee primer on just who Palantir is.
Meet a big-data startup, a $20 billion company with ties to the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA. Just last month the company agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million to settle claims that the company discriminated against Asian job applicants, federal regulators said.
For the record, Palantir is led by CEO Alex Karp and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, a Trump advisor, who serves as chairman.
In a recent piece looking at its business, my colleague Marisa Kendall described the company’s current mission this way:
After catering exclusively to defense, law enforcement and intelligence agencies in its early years, Palantir doubled its commercial business between 2014 and 2015, a person close to the company said, and now at least 60 percent of its work is with for-profit companies. The startup reportedly has worked with Hershey and Coca-Cola.
The Palo Alto-based company makes its home base at 100 Hamilton Ave, which is likely why it tapped Cubberly for its employee parties this week. The tech shelled out $40,000 for its private rental of the community park, a charming oasis of green. Sure, it’s synthetic turf but it’s still a lovely spot.
In the Bay Area’s current climate of tension over traffic, gentrification and the growing inequity between the tech haves and the rest of us have-nots, the company’s private use of the public park was bound to rub some folks the wrong way. Sometimes it’s no picnic being Palantir.
For the record, Palantir has agreed to pay the rental fees for two local clubs, the Palo Alto Soccer Club and the Stanford Soccer Club, who had to find new digs for the duration of the park rental. The company also donated $10,000 to each of the clubs.