Palantir -- the quiet, data-crunching startup whose clients include government agencies around the world -- on Friday will reveal it has raised up to $195 million as part of a new funding round, this newspaper has learned.
Sources close to the company confirmed that they anticipate the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission will show the company has raised between $129 million and $195 million; final details were still unsettled Thursday.
Those sources also said the company expects additional funding in the near future that could swell the final value of the round north of $200 million.
Previous SEC documents show the company has raised more than $300 million in prior funding rounds. Although those documents did not disclose the names of investors, the company's backers are known to include New York hedge fund Tiger Global Management and billionaire financiers Stanley Druckenmiller and Kenneth Langone.
Palantir's seed money came from former PayPal Chief Executive Peter Thiel; the startup was founded in 2004 by two PayPal alumni. Using technology originally designed by the online payments company to fight fraud, Palantir helps clients manage and analyze massive amounts of information from a host of sources.
Pharmaceutical companies use Palantir's software to better track complex biochemical reactions in the development of new drugs. Investment firms use it to spot new trends amid reams of market data.
Palantir also has engendered controversy because its client list leans heavily on law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI, CIA and U.S. Department of Defense. The CIA's venture capital arm is another Palantir investor.
Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Thursday that the increasing potency of "big data" technology threatens to give law enforcement too much power to track what people do online.
"The government is a glutton for information about ordinary people, but it tries to binge in secret," he said. Tien's comments came as a coalition called StopWatching.Us announced plans for a "rally against mass surveillance" in Washington, D.C., next month.
Thiel and Palantir Chief Executive Alex Karp have described themselves as staunch libertarians and insisted that providing better tools to government actually protects against overreaching bureaucrats. That's because Palantir's software keeps records of what users do with the data.
"The alternative is letting terrorism happen or losing all our liberties," Karp said in a recent Forbes interview.
While Karp told Forbes he expects Palantir to sign $1 billion worth of new contracts next year, the company also works closely with nonprofit groups at deeply discounted rates. Its software has helped track spending of Hurricane Katrina rebuilding funds and coordinate volunteer relief efforts during Super Storm Sandy.
On Thursday evening, at its downtown Palo Alto offices, Palantir hosted a forum for employees and the public to hear from the head of the Polaris Project, a nonprofit that has used Palantir's technology to help fight human trafficking. Earlier this week, the company announced a $100 million collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation and former president Bill Clinton to help cities nationwide create "resilience strategies" against terrorism, earthquakes and other disasters.
Palantir has made a habit of beefy fundraising hauls in recent years. A $70 million investment round two years ago reportedly valued the company at $2.5 billion; that jumped to $4 billion after a $56 million infusion in May 2012.
While it's unclear where the latest round of funding pegs the company's value, Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale said earlier this year that it could be as high as $8 billion, based on interest from prospective investors.
Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.