Palantir CEO says outspoken pro-Israel views led employees to leave

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Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies poses beside the company’s logo ahead of an interview with Reuters in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 23, 2022. Picture taken May 23, 2022. 

Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said some staffers at his software company have exited due to his public support for Israel. And he expects to see more walk out the door.

“We’ve lost employees. I’m sure we’ll lose employees,” Karp said in an interview with CNBC’s “Money Movers” on Wednesday. “If you have a position that does not cost you ever to lose an employee, it’s not a position.”

Karp was responding to a question from anchor Sara Eisen about personnel turnover at the company resulting from its controversial stances.

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Palantir, known for its government contract work in defense and intelligence, has provided its technology to support the Ukrainian and Israeli militaries in their respective wars. Israel has vowed to defeat Hamas following the Palestinian militant group’s rampage on Oct. 7 in southern Israel that killed nearly 1,200 people. Israel’s bombardment since then has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Karp said on Palantir’s earnings call last month he was “exceedingly proud that after Oct. 7, within weeks, we are on the ground and we are involved in operationally crucial operations in Israel.”

Palantir held its first board meeting of the year in Tel Aviv in January, after which the company agreed to a “strategic partnership” with the Israeli Ministry of Defense to supply the country with technology for its military efforts. In November, Karp asserted the company’s support of the U.S. government and Israel, declaring on an earnings call that “Palantir only supplies its products to Western allies.”

In Wednesday’s interview, Karp reaffirmed his pro-Israel views. Eisen referenced the company’s decision in October to take out a full-page ad in The New York Times, stating it “stands with Israel.”

Peter Thiel, co-founder and chairman of Palantir Technologies Inc., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“We have a precedent in this culture where people are supposed to speak up,” Karp said, regarding the way Palantir operates. He said that in his communications to his workforce, he doesn’t promise to “tell you something you want to hear.”

“We’re going to get as close to telling you how we see the world as we’re legally and ethically allowed to,” he said. “We also do this externally.”

Last week, Palantir secured a $178.4 million contract with the U.S. Army to develop 10 artificial intelligence-powered ground stations, part of a project called Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN.

“From my perspective, it’s not just about Israel,” Karp, who co-founded Palantir alongside conservative venture capitalists Peter Thiel and Joe Lonsdale, told CNBC. “It’s like, ‘Do you believe in the West? Do you believe the West has created a superior way of living?'”

Long before the latest crisis in Israel and Gaza, Karp has been vocal on controversial social and political issues, and has attempted to show a clear contrast between his positions and the views more commonly held by people in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

In 2020, Palantir relocated its headquarters to Denver from Palo Alto, California. A year earlier, Karp told CNBC the technology community had breached its social contract with America, and blasted tech companies that refuse to work with the federal government to keep the country safe.

“That is a loser position,” Karp said in a 2019 interview on “Squawk Box” from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “It is not intelligible. It is not intelligible to the average person. It’s academically not sustainable. And I am very happy we’re not on that side of the debate.”

WATCH: CNBC’s full interview with Alex Karp

Watch CNBC's full interview with Palantir CEO Alex Karp



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