Interview with Palantir coders

I work close to Palantir’s Palo Alto headquarters, so I went over there today and asked to speak with someone about the Wikileaks conspiracy, and threatened to picket their building. Two engineers came out and said that Palantir doesn’t really have any salespeople or anyone who knows corporate-type stuff… they are just techies, and this whole thing was a terrible mistake on their part, and they were going to hire some business-type people to help them out. I didn’t get their names… I am a terrible investigator. They asked if I was a journalist and I said No!… I am not even a blogger yet so journalist is a ways up the road. I took no notes nor recorded; this is from memory so please don’t believe any of it, I probably remembered it completely wrong.

They talked to me for about 30 minutes and said that the only thing that went to the top levels of the company was the Chamber of Commerce presentation, and that it was actually a presentation on how NOT to approach the problem. They repeated this a few times during the conversation.

We mostly focused on the Wikileaks conspiracy. I explained that the new emails from HB Gary proved their initial statement to be a lie. They insisted it was not. I asked about the other people who received the email about the presentation; they said that there was in fact internal discussion within the company (before it blew up in their faces) where people were pushing back and saying “Palantir doesn’t do this type of thing,” but they doubted whether the company would be willing to release any of those emails because of privacy and privilege (and contracts, and stuff like that… they wouldn’t want to get sued).

The most interesting part was their explanation of why they let it continue. They said that HB Gary had done some very good work with them in the past, including tracking the Chinese virus that allowed data to be stolen from Google and other companies. They had always been very impressed with HB Gary’s professionalism until these last two instances, the Chamber proposal and the Wikileaks conspiracy. They say that they rejected the Chamber proposal, and only included part of it in their final presentation as an example of what NOT to do, and that the reason we don’t see any emails saying so in the HB Gary archive is because they have a company policy (I think they said it was unofficial) against openly questioning clients or being rude in any way. Also, they implied that they had had a policy that deadlines must never be missed no matter what. They explicitly said that they had made a mistake by allowing a proposal to go out after only one person saw it, and that they were taking steps to make sure that never happened again.

I asked why specific emails questioning the proposal couldn’t be released without violating privacy or privilege, and they said that they would be accused of forgery if they only released a few emails. I complained that email headers would be difficult to forge and backing them up with fake logs would be time-consuming, and that they could deflect suspicion by releasing the emails before they had time to forge everything, but they were unconvinced.

I’m sure I am forgetting a lot… I may post more later if I can’t sleep.

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One thought on “Interview with Palantir coders

  1. Have no idea what meaningful things they are doing at this company. Talked to some of their techies, they can be very rude.

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