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Palantir CEO Alex Karp talks AI and the company's 'crucial role' in war

At AIPCon, a special invitation-only event hosted by Palantir Technologies (PLTR), CEO Alex Karp laid out how the company can apply lessons learned in the context of war to drive business and productivity growth.

Karp emphasized that its relationship with the US government continues: The US Department of Defense recently disclosed a five-year $480 million contract with Palantir to work on a project known as Maven to develop a smart system that will provide warfighters and intelligence analysts with faster and more accurate information on the battlefield for tasks such as identifying enemy targets.

“This country is focused on using AI to have a structural advantage in how we deploy and understand the battlefield,” Karp told Yahoo Finance (video above) at AIPCon in downtown Palo Alto, Calif. “And Palantir plays a crucial role in that arena.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Alex Karp, CEO, Palantir Technologies speaks onstage during
Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp speaks at a forum on AI security on May 1, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Jacob Helberg) (Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images)

Hundreds of people gathered on Thursday to take part in the data analytics firm's event highlighting its Artificial Intelligence Platform, or AIP.


More than 70 customers are scheduled to talk to the crowd about how they are integrating and leveraging Palantir’s artificial intelligence tools in their businesses. At the same time, Palantir engineers spent time sitting side-by-side with customers, collaborating on what they could build with the software.

Some of the companies that participated included United Airlines (UAL), Lear (LEA), and Wendy’s (WEN), to name a few.

“I'm not paying them to present,” Karp said, referring to those customers speaking at AIPCon. “The reason they're presenting is they're like, ‘Wow, I didn't really believe this could work. And now it's working really well.’”

The Denver-based software company has hosted more than 1,300 of these conferences in the US and around the world. The events have helped power Palantir's US commercial revenue, which rose 40% year over year in the first quarter to $150 million.

Palo Alto, CA, USA - Apr 30, 2022: Exterior view of the Palantir office in Palo Alto, California. Palantir Technologies is an American software company that specializes in big data analytics.
Palantir Technologies is an American software company that specializes in big data analytics. (hapabapa via Getty Images)

John Couris, president and CEO of Florida Health Sciences Center, which includes the Tampa General Hospital, attended the conference Thursday, as his hospital recently announced a deal with Palantir to leverage its AI software.

Specifically, the hospital will deploy Palantir’s AIP to build what it calls a new Care Coordination Operating System, which will help hospital staff make faster decisions about bed placements and staffing allocation while improving clinical outcomes for patients.

“It's going to absolutely improve the care, the clinical outcomes, the experience for the patient,” Couris said. “It's going to do that by making our physicians more efficient and effective, by making our nurses and allied health professionals more efficient and effective, and it's going to help our administrators lead their organizations in a very different way.”

Palantir has gained momentum with commercial clients, but early on, the company became well-known for its work with Washington and the US intelligence community, including the CIA.

The company was co-founded in 2004 by Karp, billionaire Peter Thiel, and 8VC managing partner Joe Lonsdale. Its name is derived from a magical crystal ball described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, "The Lord of the Rings."

Palantir’s engineers created software that allows customers to import volumes of data from images to spreadsheets into a central system where it can then be securely analyzed and interpreted with maps and charts.

"We're making it possible through our software to allow other software and hardware companies to work off of our platform," Karp added about the company's work with the US government. "So this is not just a win for Palantir ... This is a win, quite frankly, for the tech ecosystem that powers this nation."

While Palantir is well known for selling software to the US government and its allies, it is the traction the company is seeing on the enterprise front that has won over some investors and financial analysts on Wall Street.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill said he is encouraged by improvements in Palantir’s fundamentals and business, specifically the strength in its AI business.

“I think these mini boot camps they are doing are getting them more at bats,” Thill said about AIPCon, “meaning, they are now getting more customer engagements as they do these smaller [software] installs. And that translates into higher deal velocity for the company.”

Thill currently maintains a Hold recommendation on the stock due to valuation concerns.

“It is one of the most expensive names we cover,” he said.

Some argue that AI now represents a historic shift for the tech sector and the economy broadly — a new megatrend that will upend and redefine business and economic development. Nvidia (NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang, for example, recently said that “the next industrial revolution has begun.”

Karp is clearly confident about his own company’s role and leadership in this AI moment.

“Come talk to our 70 customers,” he said, referring to those presenting at today’s conference. “They think they're winning.”

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