Emails: Palantir blames Morgan Stanley for ‘blemished’ direct listing

  • In two emails sent internally this weekend, Palantir Technologies blamed Morgan Stanley for a “failure” that left some employee and alumni shareholders unable to sell their shares when the company made its public debut last Wednesday.
  • The problem stemmed from a glitch with Morgan Stanley’s trading platform Shareworks.
  • In an unsigned email sent late in the evening Sunday, Palantir said it had heard from Morgan Stanley that the bank was in a “war room” all weekend working to determine which shareholders were owed compensation. 
  • A spokesperson for Shareworks at Morgan Stanley said the issue was a “slowness” that “may have resulted in delayed logins into our system.”
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Palantir placed blame squarely on Morgan Stanley following a glitch in the bank’s trading software Shareworks on Wednesday, according two unsigned emails sent to “Palantirians” on Saturday and Sunday, which were obtained by Business Insider.

That glitch temporarily prevented some employee and alumni shareholders from selling shares during the tech company’s direct listing.

Morgan Stanley “intends to ‘make people whole’ who were affected by the Shareworks failure,” Palantir wrote in the email from Saturday.

“We have and will continue to put the weight of the company behind protecting our hobbits and helping make sure Morgan Stanley is good to its word,” that email said, referring to employees with a reference to “Lord of the Rings.”

“The issues that we encountered with Shareworks are very frustrating. And while it was a successful listing (we pulled off the near impossible in getting the company listed and out in less than 6 months) it was blemished by Shareworks’ failure,” that email added.

A spokesperson for Palantir declined to comment on the emails. 

A spokesperson for Shareworks by Morgan Stanley told Business Insider that it had “experienced slowness that may

AOC asked the SEC to investigate Palantir ahead of direct listing

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for the agency to investigate the data-mining company Palantir ahead of its stock-market debut, which it made on Wednesday.
  • Among the congresswoman’s concerns is Palantir’s longtime penchant for secrecy, which she wrote could hurt future investors.
  • Other concerns listed are its domestic and foreign contracts, including with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, law-enforcement agencies, and foreign governments that “may present human rights risks.”
  • Palantir, a famed Silicon Valley startup founded in 2003, has a reputation for being secretive and has come under scrutiny recently ahead of its direct listing.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-September asking the agency to investigate the secretive data firm Palantir as the company gained attention with its stock-exchange plans.

In the letter, the congresswoman listed several concerns pertaining to the Peter Thiel-founded Silicon Valley startup. But her primary grievance was the startup’s failure to fully disclose information regarding its business practices, omissions that could lead to material risks for future investors and national security issues as it begins trading, the letter said.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, one such partial omission was the funding it received from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture-capital arm. A 2009 shareholder report from Palantir revealed that In-Q-Tel held a 10% share in Palantir, but the firm’s 2020 S-1 filing did not say whether that investment was still in play or how many Palantir shares In-Q-Tel held. Palantir is listed as one of In-Q-Tel’s portfolio companies on the venture group’s website.

Palantir’s contracts with foreign governments were also cited, some of which involve governments “known to engage in corrupt practices and human rights violations,” such as Qatar, Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the letter.

Palantir’s domestic contracts have

Palantir officially begins trading through a direct listing

  • Shares of the big data company Palantir began trading on Wednesday via a direct listing.
  • The New York Stock Exchange established a reference price of $7.25 per share, valuing the company at about $16 billion ahead of its official debut.
  • Palantir has yet to become profitable, raising questions from investors.
  • Palantir also has faced criticism from activists for its work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which the company has acknowledged poses a risk to its business — partially because yielding to the criticism might endanger its business with government clients.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Palantir, the secretive and often-controversial big data company founded by Peter Thiel, made its public markets debut on Wednesday with a splash, as investors bid up shares and gave the company a roughly $19 billion market capitalization.

Shares of Palantir began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday through a direct listing. The stock opened at $10 per share, 38% above the hypothetical “reference price” set by the company. Palantir shares rose 14% to $11.40 within the first hour of trading, but then lost momentum and dipped to as low as $9.77.

The reception on Wall Street is a vote of confidence in a company that has never turned a profit in its 17 years of existence, and whose business model has been viewed with skepticism by some observers. In its S-1, Palantir revealed nearly $580 million in losses in 2019, and it warned that it may never become profitable. 

The company is known for its work with government agencies and law enforcement around the world, using its data analysis tools to track and prevent terrorism and other forms of crime.

Palantir acknowledged in its S-1 filing that criticism from “political and social activists” and “unfavorable coverage in the media” could