Peter Thiel’s surveillance firm warns the world ‘significantly underestimates’ the risk of nuclear conflict in Europe
On the same day shares of Peter Thiel’s surveillance firm Palantir Technologies plummeted more than 20%, CEO Alex Karp sent out a letter to shareholders describing a world “at an inflection point” and a company on a path to doubling its revenue this year.
Palantir, a data and software company known for its national defense and intelligence partnerships with the federal government, was founded by a group led by Thiel and Karp in 2003.
Shares of the company dropped to a record low on Monday after it reported losing a wider-than-expected $101 million in the first quarter of 2022.
Here are some of the most memorable quotes.
A world at an ‘inflection point’
Karp opened his letter with a stark warning, alluding to the war in Ukraine and declaring that the world is “at an inflection point.”
“The world significantly underestimates the threat of nuclear conflict in Eastern Europe. The understandable desire to intervene must be targeted and strategic, balanced against the risk of further escalation,” he writes.
Karp has acknowledged before that “bad times are good for Palantir.” But in his letter Monday, the 54-year-old billionaire offered advice to leaders seeking peace in the region, even suggesting that to best understand Russia’s strategy in Ukraine, leaders should look to “inhabit” Putin’s mind.
“One must, in domestic politics and foreign affairs alike, inhabit the mind and aims of an adversary in order to prevail over the long term,” he writes.
The end of ‘genuine discourse’ in America
Citing the 20th-century German philosopher Theodor Adorno, Karp took aim at a “withered” discourse in the U.S., and offered his thoughts on the state of free speech in America.
“Genuine discourse in this country has all but withered, in significant part because so few are either willing or able to say what they actually think,” Karp wrote. “Those searching for free expression used to seek refuge in and turn to established institutions for protection. The unaligned, however, now seem to be the most free.”
According to Karp, it is harder now to engage with opposing viewpoints because free speech has been repressed by cancel culture, so people are afraid to voice their opinions.
“We are a company driven by ideas. And an openness to engagement with the other, to understanding the opposition, is a precondition for genuine thought and creativity,” Karp wrote.
Don’t even ask about the metaverse
Karp took issue with Silicon Valley’s focus on the metaverse, which he said is a “distraction from the very real conflicts that we collectively face.”
“Such escapism is of no interest to us,” Karp wrote. “We at Palantir do not operate in the metaverse. There are enough challenges to address in this one.”
Doubling profits in 2022
Despite Monday’s record drop in share price, Palantir remains optimistic that the company will rebound as the year progresses.
Karp wrote that he expects U.S. commercial revenue for Palantir to double for the third year in a row in 2022, growing to $400 million, driven by the company’s ability to continue to profit off the pandemic and the increasingly unstable conflict in Europe.
In recent months, Palantir’s work with the federal government has expanded through deals with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. The company also announced in March that several former government officials, including former secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox, had joined its federal advisory board as a means of bolstering its national security efforts, according to Bloomberg.
“This is our moment,” Karp wrote. “Our business is a rare amalgam from an investing perspective that blends aspects of both value and growth. We combine the resilience of the defense industrial sector with the growth of a software company.”
Palantir did not respond to Fortune‘s request for comment.
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