“[Since 2013] U.S. spy agencies also employ Palantir to connect databases across departments. Before this, most of the databases used by the CIA and FBI were siloed, forcing users to search each database individually. Now everything is linked together using Palantir.”
TechCrunch in January 2015
In the filing with the Superior Court of the State of California, the company alleges that early Palantir investor Marc L. Abramowitz “ stole … secrets, engaged in methodical deception of Palantir’ s senior executives, and made false claims to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in big data analysis.
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Founded in 2004, Palantir’ s original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC). In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the CIA, funded the project right from the start with 2 US$ million.
Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel. The software concept grew out of technology developed at PayPal to detect fraudulent activity, much of it conducted by Russian organized crime syndicates. The company said computers alone using artificial intelligence could not defeat an adaptive adversary. Palantir proposed using human analysts to explore data from many sources, called intelligence augmentation. [WIKIPEDIA]
“Save the Shire.”
“The suit gives us a some insight into Palantir, one of the most secretive companies in the Valley, and the many ways it is selling its data sifting tech.”
The company alleges that three of Abramowitz’s patent applications, filed in 2015, were ideas that came from Palantir. One of them is for a patent that covers big data analysis for the oil and gas industry; one is a patent to cover big data analysis for medical clinical trials, and the third is for the cyber security rating for buying insurance to cover hack attacks. (…)
The strangest part: The company is alleging that the investor tried to trademark the word “Shire.” The company’s name is a reference from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, where, in that tale, the hero’s home is referred to as the “Shire.” Palantir does big data analysis for many government agencies and law enforcement and Palantir’ s motto is “Save the Shire.”
IBM i2 vs Palantir
The complaint is not without irony. i2 Limited was the UK-based arm of software company i2 Group which produced visual intelligence and investigative analysis software for military intelligence, law enforcement and commercial agencies. [WIKIPEDIA]
In 2011 it became part of IBM and the company asserted that:
Palantir Technologies improperly tapped into proprietary methods used in the Analyst’s Notebook software product and system.
i2’s original complaint, however, makes claims that are embarrassing to both companies. The short version: According to i2, Palantir employee Shyam Sankar obtained i2 software representing himself as a principal of SRS Enterprises, a company registered under the names of his parents in Florida. Sankar then allegedly proceeded to analyze i2’s software and use the results to develop tools to import data from i2’s software for use in Palantir’s analytical tools. (For its part, Palantir responded by alleging that i2 had “unclean hands” because it purportedly used information about Palantir’s products obtained through a company i2 acquired.)
A Great Investment?
Palantir’s approximate $20 billion valuation puts it in near the top of high profile startups yet to IPO.
Obviously, the firm seems to do extremely well. But then again, things may not be as they seem.
A recent story from BuzzFeed attempts to raise doubt that Palantir is doing as well as some had thought.
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Citing interviews with former employees and confidential documents, the story says that the company is losing some big clients (Coke, Nasdaq, and Amex) as well as some key employees.