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Technology

Palantir launches $100m Asian venture with Japan's Sompo

Peter Thiel says big data company will stay private 'as long as possible'

Peter Thiel, co-founder of data analytics company Palantir Technologies, will launch a joint venture with Sompo Holdings that will pitch Palantir software to corporate and government clients in Japan. (Photo by Kotaro Igarashi)

TOKYO -- Palantir Technologies, the U.S. big data analytics company backed by billionaire investor Peter Thiel, on Monday said it will launch a $100 million joint venture with Japanese insurer Sompo Holdings and enter the Japanese market in its first major Asian initiative.

The 50-50 joint venture, Palantir Technologies Japan, will aim to sell Palantir's analytics software to big companies and government agencies. It will be headed by Sompo chief digital officer Koichi Narasaki and Palantir CEO Alex Karp. It will begin operations on Dec. 1 and is aiming for revenue of $1 billion.

"Challenges that Japan has with an aging population are ones that all countries of the West are going to have in the years and decades ahead," Thiel said at a news conference in Tokyo. "These are also some of the core challenges Sompo has been addressing."

The deal marks Palantir's first major attempt to create a foothold in Asia. Founded in 2004, the company has roots crunching data for the CIA and other U.S. agencies to track terrorists. But it has made a push into the corporate sector in recent years, offering analytics software to big-name clients such as Airbus, Merck and Credit Suisse.

The international expansion plans have raised speculation of the company's intention to go public. Palantir is valued around $12 billion, according to CB Insights.

Thiel said the company is "very close to break-even." It will be "slightly in the black or slightly red in 2019. We expect to be significantly black in 2020. The unit economics has worked out quite well," he added.

But Thiel appeared to deny the possibility of a near-term initial public offering.

"The judgment call that Palantir has made in the post-2000 years is that it is often much better to build businesses private. You can plan more for the long term. You're not on a crazy quarterly earnings cycle," he said. "We are going to try to stay private for as long as possible."

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