Palantir Technologies Inc (PLTR stock) had a covert strategy to strengthen its ties to the U.K.’s National Health Service away from prying eyes.
Emails and strategy documents obtained by Bloomberg show that the U.S. data analytics company intended to acquire smaller rivals that already had a connection to the NHS. With this strategy, Palantir Technologies Inc (NYSE:PLTR) should be able to work with one of the biggest repositories of health data without drawing further attention to itself.
In an email “Buying our way in” dated September 2021, Palantir’s regional leader Louis Mosley explained the tactic. It involved “hoovering up” small firms providing NHS services to “take a lot of ground and take down a lot of political resistance.”
The NHS is known to be one of the biggest employers in the world. With a budget of close to £190 billion ($208 billion), it has emerged as a significant customer for Palantir (PLTR stock). It engaged the U.S. tech company to assist with its Covid-19 response, and Palantir is presently running for a £360 million contract that will soon go up to tender.
The documents obtained by Bloomberg illustrate how Palantir seeks to strengthen its relationship with a critical client by making strategic recruitment from the NHS and through future acquisitions, even though it has been unsuccessful in acquiring NHS suppliers.
Civil liberties organizations have regularly criticized Palantir (PLTR stock) in nations like the U.S. and the U.K. for giving government agencies tools that make it possible to conduct extensive population surveillance, such as U.S. Customs and Enforcement’s efforts to discover undocumented immigrants for deportation. U.K. legislators have also expressed alarm over Palantir’s technology.
According to Palantir spokesman Ben Mascall, “Palantir exists to help the essential institutions tackle their greatest difficulties, and there are none more important in the U.K. than the NHS.” Palantir (PLTR stock) has already helped the NHS improve the lives of millions of people. We have no qualms about wanting to do more of this.
According to the spokesman, part of Mosley’s email’s language was “regrettable” and “not a fair portrayal of our relationship with the NHS.”
The company Palantir works with some of the world’s most reputable intelligence and defense agencies. According to a company representative, these organizations continue to have faith in the software’s ability to safeguard sensitive information. They said the NHS chose the business based on merit and that its software was of the highest caliber and the product of numerous billions of pounds of investment. The company was “formed on the premise that it’s necessary to safeguard core principles of privacy and civil freedoms while exploiting data,” according to its website.
According to NHS England spokesperson James Kell, the futures contract will be given in an “open and transparent process” with stringent criteria, such as “ensuring data remains secure and inside the NHS.” According to him, 86 suppliers showed up for pre-market interaction activities.
History of Palantir (PLTR stock)
Peter Thiel, a member of the board of directors of Facebook Inc., co-founded Palantir in 2003. It immediately attracted the interest and financial support of In-Q-Tel, the venture investing division of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The startup gained an early reputation for secrecy since the CIA was one of its initial clients.
Palantir (PLTR stock) now has dozens of U.S. government agencies as clients, with a sizable portion in the national security and defense sectors. The relevance of U.K. deals has increased due to Palantir leadership’s renunciation of doing business in China and other areas that do not support U.S. interests. Nevertheless, while expecting $1.9 billion in revenue in 2022, the company has had trouble making a profit. About 56% of its share price has been lost this year.
In an email to his coworkers, Mosley listed the characteristics of ideal U.K. takeover targets: reputable leadership, yearly revenue between £5 million and £50 million, and software services sales to the NHS. According to his writing, a “quite generous buyout plan (say 10x, especially if entire equity)” would be provided to founders.
If founders moved all of their services onto Palantir’s primary data handling platform, Foundry, which was created to assemble data from many sources, Palantir would compensate founders for their stock stake.
According to Mosley, we might even be their only legitimate departure option, who stated, “I doubt anybody else is likely to come along and offer them something as generous as we would.”
The NHS utilized Foundry to manage the backlog of patients waiting for elective surgery earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic to track vaccination uptake. According to public spending monitor AdviceCloud, Palantir (PLTR stock) has received more than £37 million in contracts from Department of Health and Social Care, and the NHS since 2020.
Beautiful Information, a partnership between the NHS and the business sector that produces real-time information for hospitals to use in balancing resources with patient demand, was one of the companies Palantir (PLTR stock) sought to purchase just before Mosley emailed his plan. Palantir was outbid by Canadian health-tech company VitalHub Corp, which declared in January that it had acquired Beautiful Information for £1.55 million.
I’m eager to begin scouting new acquisition prospects, such as [Beautiful Information], ” wrote Mosley, who also mentioned having “a kitty,” the British word for a fund of money.
Based on an internal document seen by Bloomberg, Palantir was also in advanced discussions. The company will invest more than £21 million into British data analytics company Sensyne as part of a deal code-named “Project Gondor” — a reference to a fictional kingdom from The Lord of the Rings — in exchange for Sensyne using Palantir’s Foundry.
A corporation looking into investments or acquisitions is not unusual, according to the spokeswoman for Palantir. He claimed that “two such possibilities” have been presented to the business in 2021. He added that we didn’t move further with either, and we haven’t bought any businesses that support the NHS.
Requests for comment from Sensyne and Beautiful Information were not entertained.
Babylon migrates some of its data to Palantir’s Foundry platform. According to Bloomberg, Palantir was also a member of several investors that contributed $230 million to support Babylon Holdings Ltd. going public in 2021.
Efforts to Lobby
However, as Bloomberg’s letters reveal, Palantir’s (PLTR stock) strategy included more than just deals and acquisitions. Parallel to the Babylon agreement, Palantir advised the business advocacy group TechUK to promote government organizations to purchase commercially available goods like Foundry rather than developing their custom solutions.
TechUK’s Representative Declined to Comment
To assist in lobbying the U.K. government, Palantir recruited Global Counsel. The strategic advice company was co-founded by Peter Mandelson, a British Lord and former top advisor to ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Indra Joshi and Harjeet Dhaliwal, two essential individuals from the NHS, were also recently hired.
A spokesman said in an email, “Global Counsel’s work for Palantir is a matter of public record.” The necessary declarations regarding this work have been made to the NHS and statutory registers.
NHS has come under fire for its lack of transparency over hurriedly made partnerships during the pandemic. According to two senior NHS officials who were not authorized to speak to the media, Palantir has touted the work as a case study in presentations for additional NHS contracts. Despite receiving a modest £1 fee in March 2020 to manage a Covid-19 data vault to assist the NHS in allocating resources more effectively.
Palantir spent months courting NHS leaders before that deal, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in February 2021. Palantir received a new contract worth £23.5 million in December 2020 to carry on the data-store project without going through a formal tendering process.
NHS England stated at the time that it had “always behaved following its legal responsibilities,” but Palantir declined to comment.
Despite employing Global Counsel, Palantir (PLTR stock) attracted criticism from politicians for their growing partnership with the NHS.
David Davis stated, “patient trust is vital to our NHS, so foreign tech companies such as Palantir (PLTR stock), with their history of supporting mass surveillance, assisting in drone strikes, immigration raids, and predictive policing, must not be placed at the heart of our NHS.”
With the aid of the legal nonprofit Foxglove, the independent media organization OpenDemocracy sued the U.K. government for giving Palantir (PLTR stock) a contract without a formal public bidding procedure. Without first consulting the public, the government agreed to refrain from extending the contract past Covid. When the Department of Health and Social Care terminated another data agreement with Palantir in September 2021, Bloomberg reported that the resistance persisted.
There are “serious concerns,” according to Cori Crider, founding director of Foxglove, concerning whether Palantir provides the NHS with value for money or whether some officials have a “bright dashboard” mindset.
When the NHS decides on its impending £360 million tender is unknown. Large US IT businesses and significant consulting firms are among further prospective bidders.
According to Phil Booth, coordinator of the British data-privacy advocacy group medConfidential, “Foundry as a piece of software is competent.” He also added that he did not have any concerns about unauthorized individuals obtaining patient data because that would be “suicidal” for Foundry.
He did note that patients could be reluctant to share their data due to Palantir’s past as a “Peter Thiel-backed, CIA-initiated firm.” He suggested that the team should create its open-source software instead of using Palantir (PLTR stock).
Featured Image: Megapixl © Timonschneider