back to article Palantir: Never made a profit, we do something with family-separating ICE, we just lost $580m – please join our IPO

Reclusive data analytics outfit Palantir has filed to go public, giving a small glimmer of insight into the highly secretive company and its finances, or lack of them. Palantir carries out information analysis and processing work for the defense and intelligence communities, often creating bespoke solutions such as digital …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This just makes no sense. Palantir is a mix of software and services, delivering very bespoke, high-end analytical transformation projects and platforms to a very small number of very large customers - 125 or so in total per the S-1. They're a 17 year old company, so not new, so their numbers should be pretty stable. Any idiot with a calculator should be able to run a services business on around 15% margin. A stable software business should be a raw 70-80% margin, set against a significant (but not overwhelming) sales and marketing cost, leaving the remainder for R&D and profits.

    From those 125 customers they're taking about $750M dollars. This is a damned respectable amount. Most software companies would kill for an average-revenue-per-customer of $5-6M. And yet somehow they have managed to lose money. Not a small amount of money either. Not a one-off blip. Five hundred and eighty million dollars. Somehow this company of 125 customers and 2,400 employees managed to spend $1.3Bn (with a B!) on who-knows-what last year.

    That's a spend per employee of about half a million dollars. It's a spend per customer of about ten million dollars. That is not a sustainable business. One could argue then that they'll try and use the IPO cash to trim the fat and turn into a more lean, mass-market business to compete on the cloud, but this is a direct listing, so they're not even going to raise any money! It could equally be early employees wanting to cash out before the business gets serious, but there's talk of a significant lockup period as well.

    Either Palantir are playing 12 dimensional chess the rest of us mere mortals simply don't understand, or this is a company that has been bled dry for the benefit of a few, so has no foreseeable future.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      "been bled dry"

      That would seem to be a trend with at least one of the bosses, perhaps they are thinking of bleeding some investors dry?

      1. DS999

        The IPO is to refill the blood vessels

        So the insiders can continue to bleed it dry.

    2. john.jones.name
      Holmes

      your right

      its a tool built in java to search across information sources... nice but realistically this is what perl was created for, you have to wonder why the gov agencies did not do this themselves if they have that sort of budget but it's the American way... expensive consultants.

      If they can spend that sort of money to get into gov contracts then maybe just maybe they can live of the fat of maintenance although with things transitioning it's going to be hard regardless of the politics.

    3. HighHair

      Didn't you know....

      ....the money has been going to the estate of J. R. R. Tolkien to licence the company name.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    So the company never made a profit

    Yet the bosses allocate themselves a million a month. Including a billionaire who doesn't need the money.

    If you think I'm investing in that, I have a bridge to sell you.

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Palantir is losing $580 million per year??

    Quick! Someone check the Snowden documents to see if the NSA has an unexplained $580 million annual budget deficit!!

  4. HildyJ Silver badge
    FAIL

    Black Budget

    Why does this scream to me funds coming out of NSA's black budget (I.e. not reported to Congress for national security reasons) paid, essentially under the table, to Palentir's leadership, probably as black budget consultants, so they can keep the company going after taking their cut.

  5. disk iops

    had a job interview there about a year ago. massage consultant and dog walker onsite. And offices in Georgetown. By silly-con valley standards the offices were stark and bare. They were looking for devops help to try to stop doing everything by hand and one-off. I was rather surprised they were so far behind the curve.

    What on earth do 2400 employees do exactly? Well same could be said for the ungodly number at FB, Google and Amazon too.

    Typical silly-con HR nonsense about how well you work with teams in a nurturing fashion and affirm other's inputs. I told them I don't "do bullshit". If your idea is stupid or you screwed up something, I will tell you to your face. Needless to say they were aghast.

  6. druck Silver badge
    Stop

    Bait for some corporate mega-sucker

    Why does this make me think of Autonomy?

    1. Thomas PinkOne

      Re: Bait for some corporate mega-sucker

      I clearly don't understand finance because I struggle to see the attraction of investing in a company that promises to be both evil and unprofitable indefinitely.

    2. trevorde

      Re: Bait for some corporate mega-sucker

      At least Autonomy was (allegedly) making a profit

  7. Aging Hippy
    Alert

    Who's fooling who?

    Search for Thiel Cummings and take your pick. For extra pleasure throw in Trump as well.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If you're paid money that doesn't officially exist from budgets that don't officially exist, sometimes by organisations that don't officially exist then obviously our profit can't officially exist either.

  9. VLSI

    El reg could do with a dumpster fire section to file this under.

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