If you see a hobbit making it rain on Palo Alto’s University Avenue this afternoon, here’s why: VentureBeat reports that Palantir–Peter Thiel’s shadowy data-mining startup–has raised another $196 million, bringing its total raised to a whopping $498 million.
With cash like that, you could have custom costumes made for every Shire-loving employee. Or you could just buy the leftovers from Sean Parker’s wedding.
The news comes via SEC filing; the company hasn’t released the names of the investors or commented on the round. But then, Palantir has long operated under a haze of I-could-tell-you-but-then-I’d-have-to-kill-you mystery. This Forbes description of what the company actually does makes Palantir sound like the Pentagon’s personal geek squad:
In the last five years Palantir has become the go-to company for mining massive data sets for intelligence and law enforcement applications, with a slick software interface and coders who parachute into clients’ headquarters to customize its programs. Palantir turns messy swamps of information into intuitively visualized maps, histograms and link charts.
That’s not such a charming visual after the NSA revelations, though. The Telegraph recently dubbed the startup the creepiest ever, and they’re far from the only skeptics:
Love America? Shame Palantir employees, boycott their investors, & hate on them publicly. Do it for freedom. http://t.co/E7G9KaHt74
— Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson) September 28, 2013
Not to mention that, as those of you who remember your Lord of the Rings will know, the company is named after the dangerous ancient communications device that corrupted Gandalf’s boss, Saruman the White. Worth pointing out!