Palantir CEO rips Silicon Valley, accuses it of selling out America and failing to protect the country
Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of secretive Silicon Valley data miner Palantir, is slamming the tech community for what he considers a breach of its social contract with America.
Big Tech is no longer delivering on its value proposition, he said.
“The reason why people put up with crazy looking people that are doing their thing in a different way is because we have historically delivered either jobs or national security,” Karp told CNBC on Wednesday. “People understood the value of what we’re doing.”
However, Karp said that’s all changed. “Now Silicon Valley is creating micro communities that break the consensus of larger society while simultaneously telling the average American, ‘I will not support your defense needs,’ and then selling their products that are adversarial to America.”
Karp, whose Palo Alto, California-based company provides services to the Defense Department, CIA and FBI, blasted tech companies that refuse work with the federal government to keep the country safe.
“That is a loser position. It is not intelligible. It is not intelligible to the average person. It’s academically not sustainable. And I am very happy we’re not on that side of the debate,” Karp said in the interview with “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Last year, for example, Alphabet‘s Google unit decided not to renew its contact for a Defense Department program known as Project Maven after an employee firestorm erupted with a petition urging CEO Sundar Pichai to keep Google out of the “business of war.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has defended such public-private contracts, saying last year his company will continue to do business with government agencies and warned that other tech companies about turning their backs. “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” Bezos said in October.
Karp also went off on the government shutdown, which entered Day 33 on Wednesday. “It’s damaging for the American brand to have something from the outside that doesn’t seem to make sense.”
Palantir, which has reportedly been considering an initial public offering as soon as this year, was founded in 2004 by Karp and other ex-Stanford students including PayPal co-founder and outspoken venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
The company provides software that customers use to import volumes of disparate data, such as spreadsheets and images, into a central database where it can be analyzed and interpreted with maps and charts.