Founder of the company Palantir, Peter Thiel, both backed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that promised to increase funding to enforcement agencies that rely on Palantir’s software, and assisted on his transition team without signing paperwork barring him from influencing matters that might conflict with his private interests.
As a result of this, Thiel has profited immensely during Trump’s ascent to the Presidency, with Palantir’s FALCON software expanding its usage across all US law enforcement agencies. Rumours are circulating about Palantir following in the footsteps of their fellow tech ‘unicorn’ Snap.Inc by floating a huge Initial Public Offering (IPO). Analysts are pushing the company’s valuation over $20 billion as a result of their increased revenues.
‘Since the election, we’ve seen an uptick in interest in owning Palantir shares,’ said Jared Carmel, a managing partner of Manhattan Venture Partners. Apparently by coincidence, Thiel’s brief foray into government administration (he admitted to not harbouring political ambitions) has skyrocketed the firm that he owns. It is simply Banana Republic-tier cronyism – and it is going unpunished.
The intelligence system FALCON, which Palantir designed exclusively for US law enforcement administration, mines data from several agencies including Homeland Security and the CIA to quickly give law enforcement officers information on a suspect’s family relationships, employment information, immigration history, criminal records, and home and work addresses. New details are recorded into an Investigative Case management system that officers can access on a phone application to track developments and establish links between individuals who operate as part of a criminal network.
This FALCON Operations contract, obtained by The Intercept, proves that Palantir are the ‘single available source and brand name’ for software that is pivotal to several security agencies including ICE and the DHS. Palantir plainly have a monopoly in this area, and this raises important questions about Peter Thiel’s influence over the current Trump administration.
The self-described libertarian Thiel spurned the views of his overwhelmingly Democrat-voting Silicon Valley peers and publicly campaigned for Donald Trump during last year’s Presidential race. Trump promised a budget increase to ICE, whom rely on Thiel’s software, as well as huge proliferation of migrant detentions, which Trump refers to as ‘military operations’. This necessitates large-scale data pooling between various security agencies which FALCON provides.
After he was elected, Thiel was named to the Executive Committee of Trump’s transition team alongside his Palantir partner Trae Stephens. Thiel’s staff refused to comment on the exact role that he played on the committee, but as a team they drew-up plans for increased deportation efforts by expanding agencies that utilise Palantir’s complex case management system.
After being accused of having a transition team full of potential conflicts of interest, just five days after Thiel joined Trump in Washington, he tried to enforce an ethics agreement that required anyone joining the transition or administration to recuse themselves from influencing policy relating to their own financial interests. This led to an exodus from his team either by force or choice.
Thiel, however, neither left Trump’s transition team nor declared publicly that he had signed the agreement.
Thiel’s spokesman, Jeremiah Hall, did not respond to multiple questions about whether Thiel and his aides have signed the ethics agreement. In a statement, Hall merely said: “Peter’s team wants talented people to work in government. Everyone on the team abides by the rules in pursuing that goal.”
The idiosyncratic multi-billionaire’s fortune and influence over an impressive range of sectors is growing. Much like his close friend and colleague Elon Musk, he is involved in several bizarre and extraordinary science projects including speculative life-extension technologies and seasteading. He is a Life Master of the World Chess Federation, a philanthropist who oversees his own entrepreneurial fellowship, Facebook’s first outside investor, a citizen of New Zealand after only visiting the country four times, and the architect of a legal vendetta against Gawker Media after they outed him as a homosexual against his wishes.
He is now also a man who has the President’s ear, and is not afraid to use it for his own financial gain. And for those concerned with business ethics and the integrity of the US political system, this is very bad news indeed.
Leak of Nations | Palantir