How billionaire Alex Karp grew Palantir from a CIA-funded startup to a big business

Abu Mubarik November 02, 2023
Alex Karp. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Meet Alex Karp; he is the co-founder of the big data company Palantir Technologies. The company does contract work for government agencies like the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Danish National Police, as per Forbes.

In August this year, he joined the exclusive list of black billionaires with a net worth of $2 billion in the United States. The rise in his fortune was attributed to the performance of his 2.63 percent stake in Palantir Technologies, the company he co-founded in 2003 with Peter Thiel, Nathan Gettings, Joe Lonsdale, and Stephen Cohen.

Per Forbes, his current net worth is estimated at $1.8 billion, ranking 2133 on Forbes’ richest billionaire index.

The 55-year-old billionaire grew up in Philadelphia, where his parents were a pediatrician and an artist. In terms of education, he got his bachelor’s degree at Haverford College in Pennsylvania before attending law school at Stanford University, where he met PayPal cofounder and venture capitalist Thiel.

He started working on his Ph.D. in philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Within that period, he earned an inheritance from his grandfather, which he invested in startups and stocks.

He became successful at investing as per Forbes, leading to the creation of the London-based Caedmon Group, investing on behalf of high-net-worth clients. He would subsequently Londsdale, Cohen, Gettings and Thiel at Palantir.

He became CEO in 2004 with no tech background and brought in some early European angel investors. However, American venture capitalists were not interested in Palantir until the company was saved by a referral to In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, which would make two rounds of investment totaling more than $2 million, Forbes said. The CIA became Palantir’s patron and only customer until the company’s customer base grew and now it is a big data company, largely thanks to Karp’s leadership.

The billionaire is reported to be an eccentric leader who often wears brightly colored athletic wear, practices martial arts, keeps Tai Chi swords, and can solve a Rubik’s cube in less than three minutes.

Karp is also big on fitness and wellness. He reportedly practices Qigong meditation and keeps vitamins and extra swim goggles stocked in his office.

Despite his net worth, Karp is not a lavish spender. He reportedly owns property in Palo Alto, where Palantir is based, and also works out of a barn in New Hampshire.

The billionaire has also faced several controversies linked to his company. He has been criticized for licensing its technology to law enforcement, who in turn, have used it for predictive policing and tracking the routes of cars using just their license plates, the Insider wrote.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 2, 2023


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