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Palantir, the Peter Thiel-backed software and data analytics company known for its close ties to national security agencies in the US and allied countries, has publicly filed its S-1 IPO registration document.

Here’s what we know so far

Palantir applied to the NYSE to go public via direct listing, as opposed to a traditional initial public offering, meaning it is not raising any new capital by going public. It will trade under the ticker PLTR.

Revenues rose 25% in 2019 to $742m, while the net loss was stable at $580m, the same as in 2018.

Revenue growth picked up this year – in the six months to the end of June 2020 revenues rose more than 50% to $481m from the same period a year ago. For this period the net loss also narrowed considerably to $165m from $280m in the first half of 2019.

Contribution margin – a key non-GAAP metric favoured by Palantir as a measure of profitability and efficiency – is also improving, rising from 17% in the first half of 2019 and 21% for the full year to 48% in the first six months of 2020.

It has never made a profit and issues the usual caveat emptor: “We expect our operating expenses to increase, and we may not become profitable in the future.”

Controversial company?

Palantir is at pains to stress it’s not like other Silicon Valley companies. “Our company was founded in Silicon Valley. But we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments,” wrote CEO Alexander Karp. Palantir has “repeatedly turned down opportunities to sell, collect, or mine data”, he explained.

But the company’s work has at times courted controversy for other reasons.

“Our work and the use of our software present difficult questions,” wrote Karp. “The construction of software platforms that enable more effective surveillance by the state of its adversaries or that assist soldiers in executing attacks raises countless issues, involving the points of tension and trade-offs between our collective security and individual privacy, the power of machines, and the types of lives we both want to and should lead. The ethical challenges that arise are constant and unrelenting.”

You can speculate on Palantir’s market capitalization ahead of its hotly-anticipated IPO with our exclusive grey market.

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