Between the IPO buzz and a raft of new federal contracts for COVID-19 work, it’s been a year of big moves for Palantir. Now, the company is making a more literal one: decamping from its Palo Alto headquarters to Denver, Colorado.
The decision to relocate its Palo Alto headquarters, first reported by the Denver Business Journal, comes after the company filed SEC paperwork last month to take the company public. The most recent whispers say Palantir is aiming for a direct listing in late September rather than a traditional IPO.
While its chief executive’s vocal complaints about a cultural mismatch played a role in Palantir’s decision to relocate its main office away from the Bay Area, cost of living improvements and a proximity to clients in the center of the country also factored into the decision.
For a company with around 2,500 employees, Palantir maintains a surprising array of office locations, both in the U.S. and internationally. Palantir’s Palo Alto office will likely remain a hub for its developers and software engineers. The company’s New York and London offices currently house a large portion of its product development work.
Palantir CEO Alex Karp announced plans to move the company’s headquarters away from California in an Axios interview back in May.
“We haven’t picked a place yet, but it’s going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast,” Karp said, adding that Colorado would be his guess for where the headquarters would land.
In the same interview, Karp railed against what he called Silicon Valley’s “monoculture,” a reference to left-leaning views that generally characterize both Bay Area culture and the company’s vocal critics.
While Silicon Valley is far from monocultural by any traditional measure, Karp cites an “increasing intolerance” in the region — particularly for the company’s own federal defense work. Palantir continued to seek contracts with federal law enforcement agencies, even as some tech companies dropped or declined to pursue them.
Palantir’s work supplying software for ICE’s deportation efforts is a particular nexus of controversy. “… It’s a de minimis part of our work, finding people in our country who are undocumented, but it’s a legitimate, complex issue,” Karp told CNBC in Davos earlier this year.
Google famously declined to renew a Pentagon contract known as Project Maven in 2018 after an internal backlash. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Palantir and one of the Trump administration’s closest allies in tech, slammed Google’s decision as “very problematic.”
All Palantir employees not currently working with customers in the field are working from home with no set plan to return to the office at this time. Karp, a frequent critic of Silicon Valley’s regional myopia, currently runs the company from his home in the libertarian enclave of New Hampshire.
“I’m pretty happy outside the monoculture in New Hampshire and I like living free here,” Karp told Axios, referencing the state’s motto “Live free or die.”