After nearly two decades as one of Silicon Valley’s most closely guarded companies, data mining company Palantir Technologies finally went public on Wednesday in an unusual direct listing process. After an expected delayed first trade, Palantir opened at 1:40 pm Eastern trading at $10 a share, up from the $7.25 reference price the company set on Tuesday night. It hit $11 at 1:50PM Eastern.
In a direct listing, the company does not raise funds for itself. Instead, existing shareholders get a chance to sell.
Controversial investor Peter Thiel, who cofounded Palantir in 2003 and bankrolled the company in its early years, will be the biggest winner today as company chairman and its largest individual shareholder.
Thiel and three investment firms he founded, Founders Fund, Clarium Capital and Mithril Capital, owned a total of 17.7% of the company before the offering, according to a regulatory filing. Forbes estimates that Thiel owns an 8% stake directly and through the funds, worth $1.9 billion at $11 a share. Thiel and the funds he runs registered to sell as many as 62 million shares in the offering, or 15.8% of their stake. It’s not clear yet whether all 62 million shares will be sold on Wednesday.
Palantir CEO Alexander Karp, who has called wealth “culturally corrosive,” owned 5.6% of the company before the offering, including vested options. Karp registered 20.5 million shares in the offering, which means he may sell some or all of them in the offering, bringing in as much as $200 million or more, before taxes. Forbes estimates that Karp is now worth $1.1 billion.
Forbes first called Karp a billionaire in 2015, when Palantir raised $400 million at a $15 billion valuation; Karp owned an estimated 8% of the