• Palantir, the secretive $20 billion big data company, has quietly a filed a draft of its paperwork for a public listing, it announced in a press release Monday.
  • Rumors resurfaced last month that the company, launched in 2003 by PayPal alumni including Peter Thiel, was preparing to file its S-1 with the SEC.
  • Palantir has struggled to live up to its valuation in recent years, as shares of the company flooded the secondary markets at a major discount.
  • Activists have long criticized Palantir for its controversial work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Palantir, the secretive and controversial Big Data company cofounded by Peter Thiel, has confidentially filed a draft version of the paperwork for a public listing of its stock, the company announced in a press release on Monday.

The company did not specify whether it planned to raise money through a traditional initial public offering or to simply offer publicly tradeable shares through the alternative “direct listing” process recently used by companies like Slack and Spotify. Regardless, the move sets Palantir up for what could be the highest-profile market debut of the year, after the coronavirus pandemic effectively froze the market for some of the most anticipated IPOs. 

With its prospectus, or S-1 registration statement, now filed with regulators, Palantir could be on track to list shares in September, as Business Insider and others have previously reported. 

Palantir’s two-sentence announcement on Monday did not provide any details about the offering, including the amount it hopes to raise, the valuation it expects to fetch or the timing, saying only that the company has “confidentially submitted a draft registration statement” with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and that the listing is expected to take place after the SEC review process, “subject to market and other conditions.” 

Launched in 2003 by a group of PayPal alumni including Peter Thiel and its current CEO, Alex Karp, Palantir uses technology to crunch through mountains of data and detect patterns. The company’s embrace of military and defense work has made it something of an outsider in Silicon Valley, even as investors have plowed money into the firm. 

Palantir was valued at as much as $20 billion in a 2015 funding round, the last publicly known valuation for the company based on a funding round. But secondary shares of the company in recent years have hinted at valuations between $8 billion and $12 billion.

Bloomberg reported in April that Palantir expects to generate $1 billion in 2020.

Rumors that the company would go public first circulated last year and resurfaced in June. But the company recently raised more than $500 million in fresh funding, according to regulatory filings.

Secrecy and controversy

Palantir, which sells customized data analytics tools to corporations and the government, as operated largely under a veil of secrecy, sharing little information about its software or finances, and asking many of its customers to sign non-disclosure agreements.

The company has come under fire from activists who criticize its work with law enforcement, in particular US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Palantir’s software has been used to gather, store, and search for data on undocumented immigrants, and reportedly played a role in workplace raids.

The company has also reportedly been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help it track the spread of COVID-19, Forbes reported.

Thiel and cofounder Joe Lonsdale are no longer involved in the company’s operations.

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