The CEO of the secretive big-data startup Palantir, which is looking to IPO this year, says he finds out about a stopped terrorist attack once a week

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAlex Karp, the CEO of Palantir Technologies.
  • The big-data startup Palantir works with government organisations, and its technology has been used to investigate terrorist attacks.
  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp said in a recent interview that he learns about a foiled terrorist attack in Europe about once a week.
  • Palantir is reportedly looking at a $US41 billion initial public offering in the coming year.

Alex Karp, the CEO of Palantir, says he learns about a foiled terrorist attack in Europe almost every week.

Palantir, a private company that specialises in big-data technology, is known for its secretive work with organisations like the US government and the Army. The 16-year-old company, which is reportedly looking at a $US41 billion initial public offering this year, boasts that its technology has been used in high-stakes missions and can prevent terrorist attacks.

“I find out about a stopped terror attack in Europe about once a week, and not just the caricature that we all see in the media of radical Muslim attacks – also far-right people attacking Muslims,” Karp said in an interview on “Inside.pod,” a podcast by Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer.

He added: “I believe that if those terror attacks had happened, you’d have a very different political reality, and that is super motivational.”

Palantir’s work with government secret services has been controversial, and Karp described people’s fears of “misuse of software by companies and by governments” as “legitimate.” But he argued that Palantir is helping to protect data, not mishandling it.

In Germany, Palantir’s software transmitted data to police officers in the country about Anis Amri, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack at a Berlin Christmas market in 2016. But German politicians have questioned whether a company so involved in the US military should handle German law-enforcement data, which includes police databases for criminal investigations and connection data from telephone surveillance.

“Typically people who are unhappy with Palantir being used by police and clandestine services and the special forces I believe either don’t believe we actually are providing data protection, which we are … or that they don’t trust government entities of any kind to be truthful about what they’re doing,” Karp said in the interview.


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Palantir was also rumoured to have been instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden. Karp said he couldn’t comment on that.

“I’m super proud of our work, and there are someday a lot of stories I’d like to tell,” Karp said. “Hopefully I can talk about that one.”

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