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Here’s What You Need To Know About Palantir’s Long-Awaited Direct Listing

Palantir Technologies’ long-awaited public debut is finally here. The company, which was founded in 2003 and until recently was based in Palo Alto, has attracted big-name investors and controversy alike during its time as a private company. 

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Palantir is set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday in a direct listing, the same day as Asana, which will also go public through a direct listing (read more about Asana’s direct listing here). Before Palantir’s public debut, here’s what you need to know about the company co-founded by Peter Thiel.

What it does

Palantir can best be summed up as a big data analytics company. The company’s technology gathers data from various sources and analyzes it to help users—often government agencies—make sense of the data and make decisions. Palantir has had various contracts with U.S. government agencies, but has attracted scrutiny for its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in particular.

The company has two platforms: Gotham and Foundry. In Palantir’s own words: 

“Gotham enables users to identify patterns hidden deep within datasets, ranging from signals intelligence sources to reports from confidential informants, and helps U.S. and allied military personnel find what they are looking for. We later found that the challenges faced by commercial institutions when it came to working with data were fundamentally similar. Companies routinely struggle to manage let alone make sense of the data involved in large projects. Foundry was built for them. The platform transforms the ways in which organizations interact with information by creating a central operating system for their data.”

Venture capital investment in Palantir

Palantir has raised at least $2.6 billion in funding as a private company, according to Crunchbase. The company is backed by investors including Manhattan Venture Partners, Founders Fund, Keith Rabois and REV. It last raised a $550 million corporation round led by Sompo Holdings in June.


According to Palantir’s S-1 filing, the company generated $742.6 million in revenue in 2019, 25 percent higher than the $595.4 million in revenue it pulled in in 2018. Its losses remained steady during that time period, going from $580 million in 2018 to $579.6 million in 2019.

In the first half of 2020, Palantir generated about $481.2 million in revenue, about 49 percent more than it generated during the same period during the year prior. Its losses shrunk about 41 percent from the first half of 2019, down to $164.7 million, according to the S-1 filing.

Palantir disclosed in its S-1 filing that as of the first half of 2020, its platforms were used by 125 customers. The company’s top three customers combined accounted for 33 percent and 28 percent of Palantir’s revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The winners

Investor and co-founder Thiel is the largest stockholder among Palantir’s executives and directors, with more than 62 million shares combined of Class A, B and F common stock being registered, according to the S-1. In terms of investment firms, Founders Fund, Sompo Holdings, Disruptive Technology Solutions, UBS AG and 8VC are all listed as stockholders with more than 5 percent. 

Disclosure: 8VC is an investor in Crunchbase.

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