Peter Thiel, a billionaire investor and prominent Silicon Valley supporter of President Donald Trump, won a major contract for providing the U.S. Army with software via his company Palantir Technologies Inc.
Palantir will work with Raytheon Co. to replace the troubled Distributed Common Ground System now in effect. They beat out seven other proposals for a decade-long, $876 million contract, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Terms of the partnership between Palantir and Raytheon weren’t disclosed, and the companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Palantir sued the Army over the fairness of its bidding process in 2016 and won:
A judge found in Palantir’s favor and ordered the Army to revamp the way it solicits bids for the Distributed Common Ground System. The U.S. Government Accountability Office determined that the Army’s current system was over-budget and underperforming.
In addition to the Army deal, Palantir has been making inroads elsewhere in the U.S. government. After the company made a similar legal challenge to the U.S. Navy, officials agreed to revamp its technology procurement process last year.
What does Palantir do?
Founded in 2004, Palantir is used by dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to aggregate far-flung data, find patterns and present results in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics. Its use by police in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and elsewhere has raised ethical concerns about the potential for unfairly targeting minorities.
For Thiel, Palantir's contract is but another victory in Washington.
Since the election of President Donald Trump, Thiel has gained significant influence in Washington. He was the most prominent supporter of Trump from Silicon Valley and contributed money to the campaign. Thiel helped fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff, including Trae Stephens, a onetime Palantir employee. Although he recently told the New York Times that Trump’s presidency had “fallen short” in some ways, Thiel said he has no regrets about supporting him.