ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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US Palantir CEO flies company board to Israel in show of solidarity

Alex Karp says he believes in Israeli high-tech talent and is optimistic about future acquisitions, while decrying lack of US public support during war with Hamas terror group

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Palantir CEO Alex Karp (right) in a conversation with tech guru Yossi Vardi at Tel Aviv University, January 9, 2024. (Sharon Wrobel)
Palantir CEO Alex Karp (right) in a conversation with tech guru Yossi Vardi at Tel Aviv University, January 9, 2024. (Sharon Wrobel)

During a visit to Israel, Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp said he is encouraged about the talent in the country.

Karp, who is the co-founder of the US data-analysis software giant is this week holding the firm’s first board meeting of the new year in Tel Aviv to show solidarity with Israel, as the country is more than three months into a war with the Hamas terror group

“I am pretty encouraged about talent here and that we are getting the best people,” said Karp speaking at Tel Aviv University. “What I see in Israel is this hybrid of talent that is qualitative and argumentative.”

“It is particularly valuable on the tech side,” he added

In a conversation with Karp, tech guru Yossi Vardi called the tech billionaire the most vocal voice in Silicon Valley supporting Israel not just in words but also in deeds, including bringing his whole company board to Israel when few airlines are flying to the country amid the ongoing war with Hamas.

Karp expressed his dismay that many people in the US support Israel but so few people speak out publicly.

Palantir CEO Alex Karp arrives as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convenes a closed-door gathering of leading tech CEOs to discuss the priorities and risks surrounding artificial intelligence and how it should be regulated, in Washington on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

“I think so few people speak out because they believe they can skirt by with no opinion but there is no one who doesn’t have an opinion on Israel, especially if you are a big company,” said Karp. “There are a lot of people in the industry who are maybe not as pro-israel as I am but they think of Israel as a very special place and are generally more understanding of the Israeli position and view Israel’s accomplishments of building a nation from a desert.”

But “they somehow believe that the safe position is to say nothing,” he noted.

Among the reasons for bringing Palantir’s board to Israel, Karp said, is to “embarrass other people who are pro-Israel in private but somehow not in public.”

Palantir develops software using artificial intelligence to analyze vast amounts of facts and figures that the firm says help investigators uncover human trafficking rings, find exploited children, and flag complex financial crimes and insider trading.

Public health organizations are deploying Palantir’s software platform to track and contain the spread of deadly diseases. On the defense front, the US firm says its AI technology platform can be used to help deter and defend against military attacks.

The Denver-based data-mining firm with a market value of $36 billion has been active in Israel for the past decade and has an office in Tel Aviv run by many former Israeli government officials.

Illustrative image of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) (Phonlamai iStock by Getty Images)

“I started coming to Israel about 35 years ago and sometime shortly you will actually get to hear about some of the things we have done to help Israel that I am very proud of,” he remarked without disclosing any further details.

Asked about the future of the Israeli high-tech industry, Karp said that in the medium term he is pretty optimistic about acquisitions of Israeli companies and that the core positioning of Israeli entrepreneurs will likely be the same.

“Israel will probably not outperform in defending itself in the public space but it very much can outperform in industry and software technology,” Karp remarked.

This is not the first time Palantir has voiced its solidarity with Israel as war erupted between Israel and Hamas on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mostly civilians.

In early December, Karp publicly criticized corporate America for staying silent and not standing up for Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 atrocities.

Palantir secured multi-million dollar government contracts, including with the US Army to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning into battlefield applications and with the UK’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) to develop software for a patient data-sharing platform.

In recent weeks, Palantir has come under fire for its public support for Israel. In December, pro-Palestinian supporters protested in front of the firm’s London office because of its ties to Israel, accusing Palantir of being “complicit” in war crimes, and holding up placards that read, “Palantir aids apartheid,” according to UK press reports.

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