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CIA-Backed Tech Company Snapping Up Space in Silicon Valley

© Google MapsSoftware developer Palantir Technologies' headquarters in downtown Palo Alto, California
Software developer Palantir Technologies' headquarters in downtown Palo Alto, California - Sputnik International
Palantir Technologies, a highly secretive software developer backed by the CIA, has been gobbling up real estate in downtown Palo Alto, former home of tech giants including Facebook and Google.

Palantir controls about 10-15% of Palo Alto's commercial real-estate inventory, spread over some 23 buildings, and some of its leases are for a decade or longer, CNBC reported.

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Palantir software allows customers to organize large amounts of data to enable fraud detection, data security, rapid health care delivery and catastrophe response.

Around 30-50% of Palantir's business is tied to the public sector. The FBI, CIA, Pentagon and the IRS are among its biggest customers, while In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm, was an early investor. The company has raised close to $2 billion and is currently valued at $20 billion.

Critics of the company’s real estate practices claim it is destroying the start-up community.

Real-estate prices in Palo Alto have almost doubled in the past five years, and asking rents for commercial space are $121 per square foot annually, more than triple the national average. The vacancy rate sits at just 1.5%.

"Start-ups cannot compete against Palantir and sign super long leases at top dollar," said Jeff Clavier, a prominent venture investor in early-stage start-ups. "Now, you just have a bunch of Palantirians hanging out in PA. There's nothing wrong with that except it once had a vibrant start-up community and that's gone."

The area is also a fertile recruiting ground, with the Stanford University campus just a few blocks away. As a result, more Stanford computer science students work at Palantir than any other private company.

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