Palantir, the Silicon Valley data analysis company co-founded by Peter Thiel, was mentioned a lot during this past election cycle in relation to Thiel's support of President Trump and the company's well known relationships with the NSA, the CIA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (It was noted back in December that with the new administration's crackdown on immigration, Palantir, and therefore Thiel, only stood to profit.) But now after BuzzFeed released a leaked video of Palantir CEO Alex Karp slamming Donald Trump back in 2015, they subsequently reported that Palantir never actually had a contract with the NSA, and stopped working for them at all two years ago. Further, though they've had a contractual relationship with the CIA for over a decade, Karp referred to the agency as a "recalcitrant" client in that 2015 video.
As BuzzFeed reporter William Alden, who obtained the video from a confidential source, explains, "When this video was filmed, Karp had no idea that Trump would become his most important customer [a year later]."
Though Karp, who co-founded Palantir with Thiel, publicly said he was supporting Hillary Clinton in the election, he has not made his views on Trump public. In the video, shot during a company "beer sync" in August 2015, Karp can be heard denouncing Trump's early campaign rhetoric about getting rid of immigrants, questioning Trump's abilities as a businessman, and criticizing his character generally.
"I’ve had the rare opportunity to meet Trump, which I turned down I mean, this is off the record but like, I don’t respect like, I respect nothing about the dude," Karp says in the video. "Like, you could almost make up someone that I find it would be hard to make up someone I find less appealing."
He suggests, if you assume Trump is worth about $20 billion and he inherited $50 million in the 1970s, "That's not a good return. So, like, even purely on the vulgar metric of, like, as a businessperson, and then as a person, and then as a bully in any case, I don't care if you guys vote for him..."
Meanwhile, Palantir is trying to get a new contract with the US Army, already has one with the Marine Corps, as well as the CIA, FBI, and ICE, and we all know how President Trump takes criticism.
Palantir's data-mining software and consulting work were rumored to have played a role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2011, and allegedly, according BuzzFeed's sources, the fact that this was publicized at all and that Palantir hasn't done anything to quash these rumors has caused friction between the company and the CIA.
Referring to pilot work that Palantir was doing for the NSA up until 2015, Karp also says in the video, referring to the CIA by an internal codename, "And we’ve walked away [from the CIA], or they walked away from us, at the NSA. Either way, I’m happy about that.”
But, he says, while the CIA "may not like us. Well, when the whole world is using Palantir they can still not like us. They’ll have no choice," implying that the CIA's contract will continue for the de facto reason that they're the only "big data" game in town.
Karp and Palantir have yet to comment on the video, and nor have the government agencies.