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Palantir’s filing to go public invokes patriotism and attacks Silicon Valley

August 26, 2020, 2:50 PM UTC

This is no run-of-the mill letter from a tech CEO to investors.

In his letter accompanying Palantir Technologies’ filing to go public Tuesday, CEO Alex Karp invoked a spirit of patriotism while disavowing Silicon Valley.

Throughout, the letter echoes terms often used in political texts: “Our welfare and security,” Karp begins, “depend on effective software.” Palantir’s software, the letter continues, is used by “the United States and its allies around the world.” To close, Karp writes that the “strength and survival of deomocratic forms of government” depend on the right technology.

It’s interesting positioning. The company has emphasized its business of selling to enterprises over its government work in recent years, and according to its prospectus, it’s been able to make that shift in operations, too: Some 53% of its $743 million of revenue came from commercial sources rather than government agencies in 2019. 

So why underscore its government work? Well, based on how the company calculates Total Addressable Market figures, the prospectus shows a larger opportunity in government work, a $63 billion market, over the commercial sector ($56 billion by its reckoning). Momentum in the U.S. government sector meanwhile has “accelerated significantly” following Palantir’s successful lawsuit against the U.S. Army, calling federal agencies to consider commercial software—like Palantir’s own—before developing in-house services, per the filing.

Palantir’s decision to lean into that core also comes at a time when many in Silicon Valley have sought to distance themselves from the military complex. And Palantir has been no stranger to some of the reasons why. Activists have criticized the company for its work, including for its dealings with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency—the agency that has enforced controversial child separations. For its part, Palantir said it was not working with the part of the ICE that was responsible for those actions, but rather with a division that oversees drug and human trafficking.

In his Tuesday letter, Karp was not shy about disavowing Silicon Valley, while throwing shade over those in the industry who shy away from military contracts: “ Silicon Valley may know more than most about building software. But they do not know more about how society should be organized or what justice requires,” he wrote. “We have chosen sides, and we know that our partners value our commitment.”

Ribbit Capital seeks a fintech acquisition: Fintech venture capital firm Ribbit Capital filed to raise $350 million via its blank check company on Wednesday. Known for its early bets on crypto and for investments such as Coinbase, Brex, and Credit Karma, the firm is looking to acquire a company in the fintech space.

As with newer SPAC entrants, Ribbit’s blank check company also seeks to differentiate itself from its bevy of competitors with refreshed deal terms. Just see page seven of the prospectus, which lays out its argument in a handy chart.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Freenome, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based biotechnology company, raised $270 million in Series C funding. Bain Capital Life Sciences and Perceptive Advisors led the round.

- Finix, a San Francisco-based payments infrastructure company, raised $30 million in extended Series B funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners and American Express Ventures led the investment.

- PatientPop, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based platform for managing health practices, raised $50 in Series C funding. HLM Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Commonfund and Vivo Capital, Toba Capital, Transformation Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank.

- Socure, a New York-based identity verification firm, raised $35 million in funding. Sorenson Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Commerce Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Flint Capital.

- Reliable Robotics, a San Francisco, Calif.-based company developing autonomous capability for airplanes, raised $33.5 million in two rounds of funding led by Lightspeed Ventures and Eclipse Ventures respectively. Pathbreaker Ventures and Teamworthy Ventures also participated.

- Breathe Life, a Montreal-based enterprise SaaS platform for the life insurance industry, raised CAD$6.5 million ($4.9 million) in Series A funding. Real Ventures and Investissement Québec co-led the round and were joined by investors including Clocktower Technology Ventures, Cameron Ventures, Desjardins, NAventures, and Diagram Ventures. 

- Verta, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based A.I. model management and operations company, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Intel Capital led the round and was joined by investors including  General Catalyst.

- Stem, a Los Angeles-based distribution and payments platform for musicians and labels, raised $10 million in funding. Slow Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Aspect Ventures and Upfront Ventures

- Clio Snacks, a Piscataway, N.J.-based snacking brand, raised $8 million in funding. Alliance Consumer Growth led the round and was joined by investors including AF Ventures.

- Raptor Maps, a Boston-based solar software company, raised  $5 million in Series A funding. Blue Bear Capital, Data Point Capital, and Buoyant Ventures led the round and were joined by Congruent Ventures, Powerhouse Ventures, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, along with Y Combinator.

- KOS, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based plant-based protein and functional ingredient supplements company, raised $2.1 million in funding. Investors included Springdale Ventures, former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, and Horizon Bank Chairman Jim Schneider.

- Avalon.ai, an New York-based A.I. enterprise software and data analytics company, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Pacira BioSciences led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- kSARIA Corporation, a portfolio company of Behrman Capital, acquired Compulink Cable Assemblies, a St. Petersburg-Fla. manufacturer of cables and harnesses for commercial and military applications. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TEAM Technologies, backed by Clearlake Capital Group, acquired Baril Corporation, a medical specialty manufacturer. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Cryoport, backed by Blackstone, agreed to acquire MVE Biological Solutions, a Georgia-based provider of manufactured vacuum insulated products and cryogenic freezer systems for the life sciences industry, from Chart Industries for $320 million in cash.

- ConvergeOne, backed by CVC Capital Partners, acquired Altivon, a  Nevada-based  contact center solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Kavak, backed by SoftBank, acquired Checkars, a secondhand auto company. Read more.

IPOS

- Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp., a blank check company formed by former Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn and invstor Clifton S. Robbins, plans to raise $600 million in an IPO. Read more.

- Desktop Metal, a Burlington, Mass.-based 3D printing company, will go public via merger with Trine (NYSE:TRNE), a SPAC. The combined company will be valued at about $2.5 billion.

- Petra Acquisition, a blank check company targeting a cannabis business, now plans to raise $75 million, down about 40% from its last filing. Read more.

- FTAC Olympus Acquisition, a SPAC formed with the management of The Bancorp, raised $750 million in an IPO. The firm is targeting a fintech. It is led by Chairman Betsy Cohen, the founder of The Bancorp, and CEO Ryan Gilbert, a General Partner at Propel Venture Partners. Read more.

- Dyne Therapeutics, a Waltham, Mass.-based biotech developing therapies for muscular diseases, filed  to raise $100 million. Read more.

EXIT

- Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) agreed to acquire Tin Roof Software, an Atlanta-based custom software and digital product development services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Cisco plans to acquire BabbleLabs, a way to control unwanted noise in video meetings. BabbleLabs was backed by investors including Dell Technologies Capital, Intel Capital, Jerry Yang, John Hennessy, Harvey Jones, James Hogan, Kurt Keutzer, and OTB Ventures.

- ConsenSys acquired Quorum, a solution for enterprises based on the Ethereum blockchain developed by JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM). Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- WorldRemit plans to acquire Sendwave, an app-based remittance company for an estimated $500 million in cash and stock. Read more.

PEOPLE

- KKR promoted Suzanne Donohoe to the firm’s first Global Head of Strategic Growth.