• Amit Kukreja

READ: Alex Karp's 2022 Q1 Earnings Shareholder Letter






The original letter can be found here.


May 9, 2022

I.


Our company, and the world, are at an inflection point.

The movement of history is often discontinuous, and the absence of global conflict for more than half a century has left only a generation or two that remember total war. A global pandemic and war in Europe have now conspired to shatter our collective illusions of stability and perpetual peace.

The world significantly underestimates the threat of nuclear conflict in Eastern Europe. The understandable desire to intervene must be targeted and strategic, balanced against the risk of further escalation.

There is a path to the right outcome in Europe. But we must be unrelenting in our focus on increasing both the probability of a peaceful resolution over the long term as well as the number of overlapping and redundant pathways toward such a settlement.

The war is itself a protracted negotiation with a heavily armed opponent. One must, in domestic politics and foreign affairs alike, inhabit the mind and aims of an adversary in order to prevail over the long term.


II.

A resistance to complexity, in our moral or aesthetic lives, should make us wary.

Theodor Adorno rightly remained skeptical of those who are “intolerant of ambiguity” (intolerant gegen die Mehrdeutigkeit) where such ambiguity is "that which ignites thought” (an der Denken sich entzündet).

We are a company driven by ideas. And an openness to engagement with the other, to understanding the opposition, is a precondition for genuine thought and creativity.

We built a company on the premise that the construction of something of consequence requires relentless exposure to unpopular and dissenting opinions. A willingness to engage in honest and open inquiry about the inherent risks of building new technology is essential.

But a genuine discourse in this country has all but withered, in significant part because so few are either willing or able to say what they actually think.

The most pernicious consequence of attempts to restrict expression is often the self-imposed restriction not only on expression but thought itself.

Those searching for free expression used to seek refuge in and turn to established institutions for protection. The unaligned, however, now seem to be the most free.


III.

Some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are focused on building software for intricate and elaborate alternate realities.

The idiosyncratic interests and personal projects of technocratic elites in the United States are essentially a distraction from the very real conflicts that we collectively face.

Such escapism is of no interest to us. We at Palantir do not operate in the metaverse. There are enough challenges to address in this one.

And it is instability, not its absence, that makes our software all the more essential. Our company is built for the world that is, not the world that ought to be.


IV.

Our business is a rare amalgam from an investing perspective that blends aspects of both value and growth.

We combine the resilience of the defense industrial sector with the growth of a software company.

We have spent years building software products and platforms that are capable of mechanizing the integration and analysis of data across large organizations. Such software now powers the operations of many of the world’s leading industrial companies, along with defense and intelligence agencies as well as public health organizations, in the United States and its allies.

Along the way, we have created one of the most significant and differentiated technology companies on the planet.

Palantir has grown since its founding in large part because of our willingness to look inward and examine our interior self.

Our software itself continues to evolve. We remain open to building and delivering products that our customers are focused on in the present to win the right to build products that they do not yet know are essential to their survival.

Our sustained commitment to our partners in the United States and its allies, which some thought was a liability at times, is driving our ability to acquire new customers around the world.

But our long-term success relies on our ability to build both products that the market understands today, and those we believe that the exigencies of our world require.


V.

This is our moment.

The growth of our commercial business in the United States continues to accelerate.

We see a path to double U.S. commercial revenue for the third year in a row, growing to $400 million this year. Last quarter, our U.S. commercial business grew 136% year-over-year, accelerating for the fifth consecutive quarter.

The strength of our commercial business in the United States, where we have seen increasing adoption of Foundry across sectors, is a sign of the strength that we believe we can anticipate globally in the near term.

We have made progress in productizing our existing offerings and developing new ones. As a result, we have begun to turn a corner with regard to customer acquisition.

The number of customers who are using our software platforms has continued to increase, with our customer count nearly doubling over the last year.

The strength of our business in bearish conditions is due in part to the unrelenting and growing demand for functional and adaptive enterprise software, which has become essential to every large organization that exists.


VI.

Our most recent effort to expand our sales team continues both in the United States and around the world.

But a tension persists between a customer’s understanding of their needs today, and our view of what they will need tomorrow.

We must overcome a fundamental challenge. It is our instinctive pursuit of solving the hardest problems our customers face that sometimes causes us to undervalue what they may need in the short term.

We have also historically had what might be characterized as an antagonistic relationship with some of the IT organizations that exist within our customers. This is changing and must continue to do so. The building of such coalitions with internal procurement organizations has begun to move from the exception to the rule.

We also see further opportunities to decompose our platforms, so that an increasingly broad and diverse group of customers using our software have access to the specific component products they need from the start.

Our three principal platforms (Gotham, Foundry, and Apollo) are composed of hundreds of component parts, any one of which we believe could have a market in the thousands or tens of thousands of large enterprises.

We are shifting our approach to expedite the development of these individual products in order to serve even broader swaths of the market.

Our plans for Apollo are also ambitious.

We built the platform to maintain our own software deployments on a continuous basis and with as little human intervention as possible.

What was once an internal set of tools has today grown into a mature and highly differentiated software platform, with the potential to serve entire sectors and industries across the commercial and government markets.



VII.

Palantir remains a fundamentally creative enterprise. It will remain so if we protect the culture that built it.

Our success continues to rely on the recruitment and retention of unconventional talent.

Our organizational and operational culture remains one of the most differentiated and unique among technology companies in the world today.

We have the opportunity to find and develop the next generation of leaders, who think and act like the enterprise owners they are. Our culture depends on trusting in the outsized productivity of these individuals over the long term.

We have spent nearly two decades preparing for this moment.


This is our time, and we intend to seize it.


Sincerely,


Alexander C. Karp

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Palantir Technologies Inc.

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