Why Does Palantir's Alex Karp Speak So Philosophically?
Does the CEO need to be so philosophical - why can't he just get to the point?!
Okay, let's answer this question.
You either hate Alex Karp or you love him. There seems to be very few people in the middle of this question the more I speak to people who are interested in Palantir.
And, it is an incredibly interesting question. This company is nuanced and complex. This company does not strive away from the mission and ideals they stand for. Part of the reason the company is so interesting to analyze is because they have a CEO who is aggressive in his communication style when it comes to propagandizing his philosophical views around the company.
It makes sense. He has a whole PhD in philosophy.
When he is asked a question at an event, interview, or conference - Alex Karp tends to answer with some type of long-winded answer. He stumbles many times during his speech, as if he is fighting to find the next word he wants to say, but he ultimately ends up putting his words together.
The end result of those words coming together determines if you think he's full of crap or a visionary. There is no in between for most people.
Full disclosure: he is a visionary to me. Now, I am biased more to philosophy as a concept because I was a debater in high school and I studied various forms of analytical and continental philosophy to prepare for my debate tournaments. So, I resonate with being philosophical as a concept.
BUT, I have one major reason for why the CEO of Palantir also likes to answer questions in a philosophical way.
The Reason: B2B Enterprise Software is...boring.
At the end of the day, Palantir is not selling an electric car. They don't make consumer phones. They don't even sell products that regular people can load up and look at it without it being from a video on their YouTube channel.
They are a B2B SAAS company, which will always be boring to most people. B2B SAAS companies can change the world - they can innovative, help other organizations, make companies more efficient, enhance employees' lives - but they will never capture the hearts of consumers like companies that sell cars or phones.
Unless...you've got a good storyteller.
To me, Alex Karp genuinely wants to answer questions in a philosophical way. He cares deeply about providing a nuanced answer that isn't a cookie-cutter response to challenging questions, especially because Palantir is a B2B SAAS that is not the typical enterprise software.
Since he naturally is philosophical and Palantir has various elements of philosophy guiding their company (data ethics, privacy, western freedoms) - then it gives him the unique ability that most CEOs of B2B companies don't have: to tell stories about his company and get retail investors excited.
I see no downside to this. Sure, there will be some "ums" during his speech as any philosopher cannot speak coherently 100% of the time because they are searching the heavens for the right words to say.
But if those words do come together in the right way...you've got the ability to get average people inspired and hooked onto your ideas.
And if you do that, you can sell anything. Especially if your selling something with a purpose - even if it is just B2B SAAS.
You can watch this video that dives deeper into Alex Karp being philosophical.