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8. Palantir Technologies

Tracking the world's secrets

Founders: Alex Karp (CEO), Nathan Gettings, Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Stephen Cohen
Launched: 2004
Funding: $1.5 billion
Valuation: N/A
Disrupting: Business services, data mining, cybersecurity
Rival: N/A

George Kavallines

Big data company Palantir Technologies hones a reputation as a secretive outfit, but its co-founder Peter Thiel is now part of the most visible entity on Earth — the Trump administration. Thiel is the president's closest tech advisor, and Palantir CEO and co-founder Alexander Karp met with Trump before he took office. In a way, that makes sense.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

This Silicon Valley firm sells software to the U.S. government — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency — Wall Street firms and other industries to mine massive data sets for intelligence and law-enforcement applications. Its software can take mounds of data and transform it into maps, charts and other actionable forms of intelligence. Palantir can then report back to a client any news of potential trouble, whether that be terrorism, financial fraud or even human trafficking. For example, last year Credit Suisse Group AG revealed it had started a 50-50 joint venture with Palantir to catch rogue employees engaging in unauthorized trading.

Palantir's biggest customers — especially government agencies — don't generally talk about their relationship with the company, but in April the U.S. Department of Labor did release a statement stating that Palantir had settled a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against Asians in the company's hiring and selection process for engineering jobs. The company admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to pay $1.7 million in back wages and stock options to those affected.

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