Big Data Firm Palantir Reportedly Struggles to Retain Clients and Staff

By
  • Lizette Chapman
Published
  • May 09 2016, 6:30am EDT

(Bloomberg) -- Palantir Technologies Inc., one of Silicon Valley’s most highly valued private companies, has struggled to retain employees and prominent customers, according to a report by BuzzFeed.

In 2015, Palantir generated $420 million in revenue, BuzzFeed reported, citing interviews with former and current employees, as well as more than 1,000 internal e-mails and documents. The secretive big data company spent more than $500 million last year, the report said. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palantir’s bookings, which refer to the value of contracts that typically span many years, exceeded $1 billion in 2014 and continued growing in 2015, a person with knowledge of the matter said last year. BuzzFeed reported Palantir bookings of $1.7 billion in 2015.

Investors valued the company at $20 billion in a funding round last year, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. The Palo Alto, California, startup has raised more than $2.5 billion, according to research firm PitchBook.

Since it was founded in 2004 by a team that included PayPal co-creator Peter Thiel, Palantir has worked on projects for the U.S. government, including the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA’s venture capital arm was an early investor in the company. In recent years, Palantir has expanded to the private sector, which has grown to represent about 60 percent of its business, according to a report last year in the Financial Times.

American Express Co., Coca-Cola Co. and Nasdaq Inc. were among the companies that walked away from contracts with Palantir over the last year or so, BuzzFeed reported. Hershey Co. is reevaluating its relationship with Palantir, and Kimberly-Clark Corp. considered becoming a customer before deciding that Palantir’s high prices were unjustified, the report said.

Palantir also counts Axa SA, Bridgewater Associates LP, Credit Suisse Group AG and First Data Corp. among its clients. Its biggest customer is BP Plc, which signed an agreement with Palantir in November 2014 worth $1.2 billion over 10 years, plus bonus payments as determined by executives from both companies, according to BuzzFeed.

Employee defections accelerated early this year, and at the current pace, the attrition rate this year would be 20 percent, BuzzFeed reported. The departure rate in 2015 was 14 percent and 12 percent in 2014, the report said.

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