Peter Thiel is a gay bashing gay man, an Ayn Rand loving sociopath, and one of the founders of the Big Brother wannabee software company Palantir.
Needless to say, his history should be a red flag for anyone who would want to do business with him.
Subscribing to a philosophy which maintains that self-interest is the only form of morality does not imply that they would deal fairly or honestly with clients.
Case in point, the New York Police are terminating their contract with the firm, and Palantir is refusing to transfer to the department as is required in the contract, because supplying an overpriced and difficult to use product, your business model has to be lock in:
A showdown over law enforcement information — and who controls it — is taking place between the New York Police Department and Palantir Technologies, the $20 billion Silicon Valley startup that for years has analyzed data for New York City’s cops, BuzzFeed News has learned.
The NYPD is canceling its Palantir contract and intends to stop using the software by the end of this week, according to three people familiar with the matter who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The department has created a new system to replace Palantir, and it wants to transfer the analysis generated by Palantir’s software to the new system. But Palantir, the NYPD claims, has not produced the full analysis in a standardized format — one that would work with the new software — despite multiple requests from the police department in recent months.
Lawyers from each side have gotten involved, showing that this dispute — which hasn’t previously been reported — has the potential to escalate into a legal fight. And given the work Palantir does for a host of other government clients, the standoff over a seemingly arcane technical issue has implications for a range of services, from international espionage to battlefield intelligence.
The NYPD has been a Palantir customer since at least 2012, and Palantir has touted the relationship to help it drum up other business. The software ingests arrest records, license-plate reads, parking tickets, and more, and then graphs this data in a way that can reveal connections among crimes and people. In late 2014, for example, the police department used Palantir’s analysis to plan a sting that landed the rapper Bobby Shmurda behind bars, just as his career was taking off, according to an internal Palantir email seen by BuzzFeed News.
The NYPD quietly began work last summer on its replacement data system, and in February it announced internally that it would cancel its Palantir contract and switch to the new system by the beginning of July, according to three people familiar with the matter. The new system, named Cobalt, is a group of IBM products tied together with NYPD-created software. The police department believes Cobalt is cheaper and more intuitive than Palantir, and prizes the greater degree of control it has over this system.
The NYPD was paying Palantir $3.5 million a year as of 2015, according to an internal Palantir email that describes a contract to be signed in late 2014. Other Palantir customers — including Home Depot, which canceled late last year — have also raised concerns about Palantir’s prices.
The emerging dispute is not over the data that the NYPD has fed into Palantir’s software, but over the analysis that the software has produced — all the insights like the one that underpinned the Shmurda arrest.
The NYPD asked Palantir in February for a copy of this analysis, and for a translation key so that it could put the analysis into its Cobalt system, the people familiar with the matter said. But when Palantir delivered a file in May, it declined to provide a way to translate it, arguing that doing so would require exposing its intellectual property, the people said.
The NYPD then asked Palantir for the information in a translated format — asking Palantir to do the translation itself — according to the people. Palantir responded this month, providing a file that was indeed readable. But according to the NYPD’s examination of the file, it contained only the original data the NYPD had fed into the system, the people said. The analysis appeared to be missing.
If the dispute is not resolved by the end of this week, the NYPD can continue to view the analysis by using Palantir software, given that customers retain a perpetual software license even after canceling, two people familiar with the matter said. But this could mean having to switch between systems to see information relating to a case, a situation the NYPD wants to avoid. Plus, as an ex-customer, the NYPD will not have access to the same product upgrades or support should the software fail.
The standoff highlights a thorny issue for companies and governments that outsource their data-mining tasks to outside contractors. Technology experts say software companies have little incentive to smooth a customer’s transition to a rival’s product. In some situations, a software company would genuinely risk devaluing its intellectual property if it shared information with a customer, since that could show the customer how the information was created, according to Tal Klein, chief marketing officer of IT monitoring company Lakeside Software.
I may be a bit unfair to Thiel and Palantir here: It appears to me, at leastdescribed Mr. Klein, that this is a part and parcel of privatized IT operations and the cloud.
In a truly competitive and open market, the profits approach zero, so any business would put as much friction into changing services so as to maximize its power over its clients.
This is why you should not privatize this sh%$ or move it to the cloud.
It’s a computerized roach motel: Your data checks in, but it never checks out.