“How do you think [Palantir] is going to evolve?”
That was the question asked on stage at the CB Insights Future of Fintech Conference, by moderator Robin Wigglesworth of the FT, in a fireside chat with Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale. The context for the question was a recent investigative piece on Buzzfeed detailing Palantir’s apparent stumbles and internal struggles. The article relied on leaked internal documents and interviews with former employees.
Lonsdale prefaced his comments by saying that although he’s a co-founder, he’s no longer very intimately involved with the billion-dollar, big-data company. Then he addressed the article, noting that everything must be understood in the context of Palantir’s high-flying ambitions.
“I think that Peter Thiel thinks of a lot of things in terms of a ‘0 to 1, 1 to n’ framework. Palantir went 0 to 1 in a few areas and it wanted to prove it could go 0 to 1 potentially in a lot more areas, then scale them.”
Lonsdale continued, detailing Palantir’s successes in areas like in healthcare tech and the energy industry. Returning to the article, he pointed out that it cited 3 companies where Palantir was unsuccessful out of a portfolio of 100 customers. For a growing company, expanding into new areas and seeing if made sense to be there or not, that could be seen as an acceptable number.
“You can take data and tell a story and … it’s a more interesting story if it’s negative.”
“Well, you know those journalists,” Wigglesworth replied, tongue in cheek.