Palantir's CEO calls 'woke' a 'central risk to Palantir, America and the world'

Oh, and Alex Karp's forecasts disappoint the market after strong revenue growth

Analytics platform biz Palantir saw its share price dip yesterday despite posting on-the-nose revenue growth of 21 percent year-over-year to reach $634 million in the first calendar quarter.

The company — with its background in spy-tech — disappointed markets by nudging down growth expectations for the current year, while voluble CEO Alex Karp doubled-down on his pro-military, anti-woke agenda.

Growth was stronger in the commercial sector, at 27 percent year over year, compared with the government sector, which grew at 16 percent over the same period. Net income reached $106 million in the first quarter, up from $19 million a year earlier.

Palantir increased its revenue guidance for 2024 to between $2.68 billion and $2.69 billion. Although the figures are higher than earlier forecasts, investors clearly expected them to be higher still and let their feelings known with a seven percent dip in the share price.

Palantir was founded with the help of CIA-backed investment fund In-Q-Tel and it attracted a certain controversy by providing digital profiling tools for the CIA and US immigration agency ICE.

Karp took the opportunity of an earnings call with investors and letter to shareholders to defend the company's brand of tech-nationalism and political posturing.

In his missive, he noted that software that "currently enables target selection and mission planning has become as vital to the elimination of an adversary as it is to protect the innocent from harm.

"The platforms in use by our defense and intelligence partners present a very real threat to the survival of our enemies. But those same software systems may also make possible and indeed hasten the beginning of the end of an era of total and indiscriminate war," he said.

In March, Palantir won a US Army contract worth $178.4 million to house a battlefield intelligence system inside a big truck. The Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or Titan, is an extension of Maven, a controversial project for using machine learning in order to be able to tell people and objects apart in drone footage. Google pulled out of project Maven in 2018 after employees protested.

In a call to investors, Karp seemingly put any nuanced argument against the use of such applications of the technology off-limits.

"When we took over Maven, when we refused to stop working with [federal executive department] Homeland Security, when we had discussions about which countries we'd work with and which countries we wouldn't. More lately, in a more timely version, when we supported Ukraine, it was less controversial. When we sold Israel our software, that was arguably more controversial.

"I think the central risk to Palantir, America and the world is a regressive way of thinking that is corrupting and corroding our institutions that calls itself progressive, but actually — and is called woke — but is actually a form of a thin pagan religion," he said. ®

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