Palantir Technologies Files to Go Public

SAN FRANCISCO — Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley data start-up, said on Monday that it had filed to go public, setting up one of the largest public listings of a technology start-up since Uber made its debut last year.

Palantir is one of the tech industry’s most valuable private companies, with a valuation of $20 billion. Founded in 2003 by Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Nathan Gettings, Steven Cohen and Alex Karp, who is its chief executive, the company began working with governments, law enforcement and the defense industry to analyze and process their data, but has expanded into other areas.

Palantir has attracted more than $3 billion in venture capital funding from investors including In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency; Founders Fund, Mr. Thiel’s investment firm; Fidelity; and Tiger Global Management.

Despite persistent speculation about its prospects as a public company, Palantir had avoided listing its shares, in part because of the secretive nature of its business. A public listing would reveal a fuller picture of Palantir’s work, particularly with government agencies, for the first time.

“The minute companies go public, they are less competitive,” Mr. Karp said in 2014.

More recently, Palantir has taken steps to prepare for a listing. California requires companies to have one woman on their boards in order to go public, and in June, Palantir added its first, Alexandra Wolfe Schiff, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Spencer Rascoff, a tech executive, and Alexander Moore, an early Palantir employee, joined the board as well.

If completed, the listing will be part of a wave of tech initial public offerings. New offerings had dried up in recent months because of volatility caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But in June, with the stock market booming again and some companies in a position to benefit from changes in consumer behavior, the I.P.O.s came back in full force.

Shares of recent listings have soared. Last week, shares of Lemonade, an insurance start-up, more than doubled on their first day of trading. Investors also embraced the I.P.O.s of the car sales start-up Vroom and the sales software company ZoomInfo.

Airbnb, the $31 billion home rental platform, whose business has been pummeled by the lack of travel during the pandemic, has also not ruled out going public this year.

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