Palantir Technologies, a data analytics firm co-founded by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, reached a valuation of $22 billion Wednesday after debuting on the New York Stock Exchange, according to reports.
The milestone for the Denver-based company came despite a call from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this month for the company to be investigated over the handling of data it collects about private citizens, and for its dealings with some foreign governments, including that of Qatar.
The New York Democrat spelled out her concerns Sept. 17 in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission – then reiterated her call late Wednesday in a one-sentence Twitter message.
“Palantir needs to be investigated,” she wrote.
In August, a group of health experts had warned that Palantir could potentially abuse the contents of the Trump administration’s coronavirus database, which the company had been hired to work on, The New York Times reported.
In the Sept. 17 letter, Ocasio-Cortez and co-author Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., called on the SEC to look into Palantir’s funding from the CIA, its contracts with Qatar, its list of investors and its efforts to protect data, technology site CNet reported.
In addition, a civil rights group called Mijente has complained about Palantir technology being used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to coordinate arrests of immigrants, the report said.
“Palantir must provide greater transparency to potential investors about the data protections or lack thereof associated with its government contracts, and further information about the U.S. and non-U.S. government entities for which it is working on data related to the COVID-19 crisis,” Cortez and Garcia wrote in their letter.
It was unclear if the House Democrats have received a response to their letter from the SEC.
The NYSE debut of Palantir (PLTR.N) caused the company’s stock price to rise by 38%, according to The Associated Press, with shares trading at $10 compared with a $7.25 reference price.
The move to become a publicly owned company was long anticipated for the company, which was founded in 2003.
Palantir has seen its revenue rise nearly 50% to $481.2 million for the first six months of 2020 from the same period last year but the company has never turned a profit in its existence, the AP reported.
The company chose a direct listing to the NYSE rather than an initial public offering (IPO), meaning it did not raise money but allowed investors to sell more shares.
Thiel, 52, a native of Germany, is also a co-founder of PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook. Palantir’s CEO is Alex Karp.
The company’s debut on the NYSE was disrupted by technical issues with Morgan Stanley software that prevented some existing investors from unloading shares for much of the afternoon, sources told The Wall Street Journal.