eugen at leitl.org
Wed Sep 17 01:12:53 PDT 2014
Palantir Pricelist (page 27) [pdf] (gsaadvantage.gov)
173 points by thebyrd 15 hours ago | flag | 58 comments
bane 10 hours ago | link
For folks who've never seen one of these.
132-33 - Price for a Palantir server, priced per core. $141k per core. Includes 1 year of "maintenance" (support and software upgrades).
132-34 - This is the maintenance for second year on. $28k per core.
How many users can a core support? I dunno. But let's say you can serve 50 people off of a 4-core system (you can redo the math for the number of users).
You initial purchase is $564k. Or about $11k per user.
Each year after that, if you want software updates, it'll cost you $113k or or about $2.2k per year per user.
So let's say you use the system for 3 years. That's over $15k of software per user over that time.
Plus there's training ~$2k per user. Or another $100k in training costs.
And then who knows how many hours of engineering and "ninja" services. But a CONUS (within the U.S.) FSR is billed at about $300k per year for a full-time person on staff. Let's say you need two of them to support those 50 users.
Added up for 3 years of Palantir: $1.5million
I'll let you decide if that's good value, but that works out to around $30k per user partial TCO (not including power, security, networking, local IT staff support, etc.).
elblanco 5 hours ago | link
I've done a bit of work with Palantir. This is basically spot on. They're really cagey about the core/user requirement in real life so I'd be comfortable in saying most customer over purchase cores. They usually staff 2-3 full time guys for every 30-50 people and the implementation takes forever. I know of more than one place that didn't have a working system a full year after purchase. Meaning the maintenance had already expired on that first year.
Your later comment about the crack model is also spot on. There's a fairly long list of disgruntled places that bought on discount and are now being hit with huge O&M maintenance fees and are looking for a way out. I think they're government customers are slowly going away.
They're starting to show up more overseas here. Palantir recently opened up a Seoul office. But how much of whatever business they get out of it is government and how much of it is commercial is anybody's guess.
Cthulhu_ 58 minutes ago | link
Sounds... Actually doesn't sound as bad as SAP, Europe's largest software package/manufacturer for... IDK, business software. IIRC, every implementation requires you to hire half a dozen SAP engineers for a decent hourly rate just to set up the system, then keep them on to train and maintain the system.
nostrademons 8 hours ago | link
Not that out of line for what much other enterprise software costs. A Bloomberg terminal runs about $24k/user/year:
When I was doing enterprise financial software it wasn't uncommon for contracts to run in the millions per year.
bane 7 hours ago | link
Yeah it kind of depends how you look at it. Is it specialty software that provides some critical function they can't get elsewhere? Or is it Microsoft Office, everybody gets it and it should really be like $150/seat.
I should have also added to my original post, this is their GSA schedule. For these specific line-items, the government considers this the "prenegotiated lowest price". This simplifies purchasing. So if somebody in the government wants buy another core (item 132-33) they just ring up Palantir or their GSA schedule VAR (reseller) and ask for a 132-33 volume:1 and they know that it'll cost $141k and be good for 1 year of O&M.
The downside of being on the GSA schedule is that it means that there are limits on your ability to change prices year to year to reflect a change in business environment. Say next year you want to drop the price by 50%. That's not allowed, since it would basically mean that you weren't selling your software at the lowest possible prenegotiated price. Similarly if you want to increase it, you're limited in that as well. I think the +- variance can't exceed 10% in a single 12 month period, but I might be wrong. The other downside is that this basically provides your prices in public so your competitors can see what you charge, which can be critical information in contract bids.
There's always a loophole. For example, convince your customer to not buy off of the GSA and sell them a "package" at some discount off of GSA. That "package" counts as a different SKU and the GSA doesn't apply. So for example, you could make a Palantir "starter kit" composed of
2 core license (normally $282k)
1 extra year of O&M maintenance for both cores (normally $56k)
500 hours of Ninja Services @ $150/hr (normally $98k)
500 hours of CONUS FSR Service @ $120/hr (normally $73k)
all for the grand total of $350k or some such, instead of the normal price of $510k. A $160k discount.
Any government purchaser would fall over themselves to try to make this happen since it's a >30% discount off of the normal GSA schedule prices (which they can refer to and are governed by various rules). This looks fantastic on their yearly performance eval "-saved government $160k on purchase of Palantir package deal"
This is the crack model. When the O&M runs out in two years and they come asking for more, well, there's no deal anymore, and the GSA schedule prices on O&M and people have gone up 20% in that time.
edit keep in mind that this company has raised almost a billion dollars and is valued at something like $9 billion dollars.
elblanco 5 hours ago | link
> raised almost a billion dollars and is valued at something like $9 billion dollars.
And now particular plans to sell or go public. This keeps all their financials private and the fact that they have to keep doing new fundraising rounds every few months does not make me think they're making money. At $9bil valuation, finding a buyer is going to be really tough.
They're a really weird company to deal with too. A bit cultish, the CEO is kind of flake the few times I've met him at their conferences. I get the impression that he's not really running the show, he's impossibly unqualified with zero history in any of the spaces they sell into and no business background of any useful type.
Their offices are nice, loads of free great food, but when people emerge from their offices for lunch it looks like they're on a death march. If you ask any of them if they like it there you'll always get a blank stare and a "I love it at Palantir, Palantir is great" answer.
Combined with the track jackets and sketchy legal history (well worth a read), it's kind of off-putting.
msh 4 hours ago | link
Can you provide a link on the last line?
elblanco 1 hour ago | link
eldemar is providing some of the information. I'd add some color the i2 suit.
The fraud perpetrated by Palantir was actually so organized and so bad (they set up an entirely fake front company in another state), that the suing company asked the judge for the case to be tried under RICO rules...which are basically rules put in place to fight the mafia. The judge agreed that it qualified under the law (immediately tripling any damages that would have been awarded) and Palantir settled with i2 immediately after that and the case was dropped.
Word on the street is the settlement was for an almost 9 figure sum and Palantir immediately went into another fundraising round to cover the loss and sustain operations.
The employees (all senior execs) at the center of the fraud kept their jobs but didn't show their faces in public for a couple years (they had been acting as a de facto spokespeople during trade events). They're back in the public eye now.
Yes, that's correct, Palantir is currently run by people who's activities were qualified by a judge as falling under legal guidelines setup to fight the Mob.
You can say what you want about the big defense contractors, incompetence and lobbying and all that (which Palantir does in spades and has even gotten in trouble for not disclosing some lobbying deals) but mafioso they ain't.
Some more here: http://venturebeat.com/2011/02/16/palantirs-third-black-eye-...
This isn't even touching the HBGary union busting scheme and the Bank of America anti-Wikileaks proposal. And other very anti-democratic activities.
I don't know what happened to the employee with the anti-Wikileaks deal, but the one with HBGary was the stuff of dystopian nightmares. The employee responsible was publicly terminated but actually it turns out was just sent away for a bit and then quietly either rehired or just turned back up to a job he never lost. Nobody would have ever known about this if Anonymous hadn't had a very public fight with the CEO of HBGary Federal and hacked their network to pull down some documents, revealing an ongoing 3-way partnership with Palantir).
They appear to be offering a revolving door to high level government supporters who then later become "consultants" for the company. http://www.mausstrategicconsulting.com/topical-analysis-blog...
"such as former head of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael E Leiter who had said to himself “There’s Karp with his hair and his outfit—he doesn’t look like me or the other people that work for me,” before becoming a supporter and then consultant for Palantir"
and heavy lobbying (which explains some of the bizarre support they get in congress while the generals go blue in the face arguing against them)
"It has also been active in formal political lobbying, recruiting former senators John Braux and Trent Lott, (5) with its lobbying expenditures increasing steadily from 2010 to 2013 when its total annual investment exceeded $1.1 million"
more examples http://www.republicreport.org/2014/palantir-zach-wamp/
I've heard rumors that even the CIA is trying to distance themselves from them and find alternatives.
eldamar 3 hours ago | link
They essentially defrauded their chief competitor, i2, so that they could copy their features and reverse engineer their software so Palantir's system could integrate with it.
Read the full complaint here for the juicy details: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36371667/i2-v-palantir-080910
Note that all the Palantir employees involved in this suit are still high-ranking Palantir executives.
There is also the case of the Wikileaks/HBGary fiaso; the main individual involved in that mess is still a high ranking Palantir employee as well.
Spooky23 4 hours ago | link
I was involved in a Oracle Financials implemention a few years ago. Forget about the Oracle part... the IBM/Tivoli garbage used to monitor the IT systems cost about $1M in licensing alone!
hkmurakami 5 hours ago | link
They sure have chosen their preferred client industries of Government and Financial Services wisely then. Those industries (a) are accustomed to paying that much for their technology, and (b) are very unlikely to leave your platform once you start using your wares, since the difficulty of getting them as a customer in the first place (and how slow they move and how much paperwork / due diligence is required) directly translates to difficulty for them to move off of your system.
elblanco 5 hours ago | link
there's a fair amount of vendor lock-in in this space as well and Palantir is pretty good at it. They talk quite a bit about open standards and what not. But moving off of their platform and onto one of the competing ones is basically impossible.
They've done a fantastic job at disrupting the link-chart market (which is surprisingly robust) and making it seem like customers are buying something else, but at 2-3x the price of the competition. They hide their sales guys as "forward deployed engineers" and obfuscate their sales process to the point where it doesn't seem like you've ever dealt with the kind of sketchy enterprise sales goon you'd deal with from any of their competitors.
They're very smart.
poolpool 8 hours ago | link
Navigating enterprise sales cycles is a giant pain but man is it profitable compared to the latest social startup du jour.
fishcakes 4 hours ago | link
The alternative to Palantir - an alternative enterprise bespoke system or one built by the companies' or Gov's IT department - costs a whole lot more (25x) and often doesn't work! Palantir is a great value.
elblanco 4 hours ago | link
I presume you're talking about the DCGS-A system. Palantir has done an expert level job confusing the public on this.
That system definitely has problems (it's terrible and sucks in many places), but it's a system of much larger capability and complexity than Palantir.
Comparing Palantir to it is like comparing a wheel to a an entire transport system. Palantir could comfortably fit in as a single capabilty in DCGS-A (and probably do a better job than the stuff currently filling in that role), but it could never replace it.
It's basically just a federated search, mediocre map and halfway decent link-analysis tool. But ask it to do anything even remotely outside of those three things and you're basically dead in the water as it doesn't offer anything relevant to all the other millions of things DCGS-A provides. DCGS-A is more than just some analytic tools.
The reason it's not part of DCGS-A is very political and complex and as much Palantir's doing as the Army's, but the answer is that the components that are on DCGS-A that basically do what Palantir does were selected because they're cheaper over the long run, even if a bit clunky. For example, on the client side, there's presently a forward looking mandate from big Army to drop flash and java clients (because they're an IT administrative menace). Palantir's front end is Java.
steakejjs 8 hours ago | link
The question I am asking is, do they really have the demand to make $1.5million a customer pay (or look like one day it could pay) for their expenses?
My guess is your estimates are really conservative.
halcyondaze 8 hours ago | link
Thanks for breaking that down. I was looking cluelessly at the price sheet for the actual prices.
incision 9 hours ago | link
All right in line with just about any sort of "Enterprise" software. Training and implementation services are downright cheap. Maintenance is the standard 20%.
The last big vendor PO I had to look at put every professional services line item at $300-360/hr with $320 being about average.
sien 9 hours ago | link
Also Palantir's software actually does something more challenging than a lot of enterprise software.
People should go and see what small packages from Oracle, HP, Tibco & IBM cost. It's incredible.
elblanco 5 hours ago | link
Funny you should mention that. Palantir's main competition in the governmeent, i2, is now IBM.
i2 was selling their software at some fraction of Palantir's and in the DoD space it's basically as ubiquitous as Microsoft Office. Palantir is everywhere, but it doesn't end up being used nearly as much.
meowface 6 hours ago | link
Yep, absolutely. This is a perfectly reasonable price for good enterprise software that actually adds value to an organization. (God, I feel like a middle manager just by typing that...).
My company spends tens of millions per year on some really awful enterprise software unfortunately.
aliasaria 6 hours ago | link
Favourite part: "Palantir is in no way affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by, The Saul Zaentz Company d.b.a. Tolkien Enterprises or the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien."
jamesash 6 hours ago | link
Funny, but necessary. The Zaentz company is notoriously litigious. From Zaentz' Wikipedia article: "In 2011, Zaentz's company began several legal actions against small businesses in the UK to enforce their "Hobbit" trade mark, including the Hungry Hobbit cafe in Sarehole, near Birmingham and a pub in Southampton, England, which had traded as The Hobbit for twenty years. This raised the ire of many British correspondents such as Stephen Fry, who described it as "pointless, self-defeating bullying."
Jabbles 7 hours ago | link
Agencies can browse GSA Advantage! by accessing the Internet World Wide Web utilizing a browser (ex.: NetScape)
mikegreen 8 hours ago | link
Do not confuse the GSA schedule with actual implementation cost (or TCO as mentioned below). The prices are a starting point and as with any relationship, they can (and will, if the buyer is smart) be negotiated.
Source: sold & implemented alot of software for the gubbmint.
hendzen 6 hours ago | link
If you read between the lines, notice how the "Palantir Gotham Appliance" for 151,042.82 includes "Palantir recommended...database software licenses."
I would bet Oracle (or MS/IBM) is getting a hefty chunk of that.
mmcclellan 4 hours ago | link
Yeah but it's only $10k a core more. This job posting lists Oracle and PostgeSQL:
dfc 4 hours ago | link
I think it is Postgres.
amalag 10 hours ago | link
You can't do diddly with an off the shelf install. They get you on the Implementation Ninjas and Support.
elblanco 5 hours ago | link
Their implementation periods are horrendous. Their marketing speak and sales drones make it sound like a turnkey appliance...like you just drop it in, point it to your database URLS and you're now playing with knowledge management. But in practice there's months of custom backend Java development (the entire tech stack is Java 1.6 or something horrible) to build the connectors and map the data into their backend, then months of ontology management meetings to build up the one-true-model (TM) for all your enterprise needs.
Then months and months of post deployment tweaking and continuous work to keep the system alive and fix issues when some of the data sources change schemas or something.
I've heard things like average time from purchase to full deployment is something like 9 months. But from my time dealing with them I think it's much longer.
fishcakes 4 hours ago | link
That is simply FUD – Palantir guarantees to customers that their software is working within 90 days AND has generated results. They offer a refund if not. Their homepage said this for a while!
elblanco 4 hours ago | link
Well, feel free to buy a core and let me know how long it takes before you're up and running. Having been on the inside during 3 of their deployments, and on the outside of 2 more, I can definitely say 90 days is wildly optimistic.
edit never mind, after reviewing your comment history, it looks like you probably work for Palantir. You should probably disclose that. I stand by my comments about deployment times.
capkutay 9 hours ago | link
I think they get you on the off the shelf price too..
$150k/core...say you run it on a cluster of relatively puny machines ...($150k * 4 cores) on a 4 node cluster is already above $2m.
dlinder 7 hours ago | link
132-51 CONS CONUS FSR Support hourly rate. CONUS rates will be billed for Services performed outside the continental U.S. unless in a warzone. Normal business hours are defined as an 8-hour work day (rate is 15% more outside of normal business hours). $ 146.60
132-51 OCONS OCONUS FSR Support hourly rate. OCONUS rates will be billed for Services performed in a warzone. Normal business hours are defined as a 12-hour work day (rate is 15% more outside of normal business hours). $ 195.47
bane 7 hours ago | link
I'm actually surprised how cheap their OCONUS warzone rates are. Many contractors will pay hazardous bonuses, time in theater bonuses and living condition bonuses on top of the CONUS base pay. Added up it can far exceed this kind of rate.
But this is probably helpful for people getting into consulting to see what hourly rates are for this kind of work. In my experience these rates are actually fairly cheap. I'm used to seeing $170-200 for most things billed to the government.
But I've also heard Palantir has fairly conservative pay caps, that might account for the low rates.
judgardner 10 hours ago | link
132-51 | IMS | Implementation Ninja Services
dkarapetyan 9 hours ago | link
bane 6 hours ago | link
It's less automated data analytics and more chart drawing and semantic knowledge base management tied to a federated search system.
Their principle competitor is http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/analysts-notebook
They used to have a free trial you could run via java webstart on their website, but they've taken it down.
Here's a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f86VKjFSMJE
It's big data in the sense that using google's search box is big data. But from my time using their demo a couple years ago, the actual tool is fairly small in focus. I don't even think the chart view can show more than a few hundred things.
mayneack 2 hours ago | link
It's still up: https://analyzethe.us/
bane 1 hour ago | link
Oh okay cool. That's a different demo. The old one was Operation Tradewinds or something.
mayneack 1 hour ago | link
Tradestop is what you're thinking of.
AJ007 5 hours ago | link
Interesting, it looks a lot like Maltego.
fishcakes 10 hours ago | link
Pretty affordable considering many other things on the GSA don't work once you buy them!
jonknee 8 hours ago | link
Luckily for Palantir whether or not it works is classified. I have my doubts. I'm sure it "works", but I'm also sure it's a giant waste of money and Americans are not safer because we're funneling millions of dollars to Palantir.
bane 6 hours ago | link
I messed around with the demo they used to have on their website. It seems to be very much an answer to the 9-11 failure to connect the dots problem.
Unify search, build semantic links.
It was a very manually intensive tool based on what I saw. Very little automation, more like those pictures and strings you see in crime shows on TV...but on a computer.
arikrak 7 hours ago | link
How do they get such precise prices? If I was selling something for 140k, I would sell it for 140k. But they sell it for $141,015.42.
pvarangot 6 hours ago | link
It's GSA price. My guess is the retail price is somewhat rounder, and after tax and other specific discounts it comes down to that.
m0nastic 5 hours ago | link
Strictly speaking, being on the GSA schedule and being able to offer products/services for sale to the federal government requires that you not sell that product/service anywhere else for less than that GSA price.
This is actually one of the reasons that doing business with the government is less lucrative than the commercial industry (for products and services which are comparable, many are things only sold to the government, so there is no hesitation about pricing them through the roof).
As you can imagine, one of the ways that duplicitous federal contractors get around the idea of having to sell to the government for less than their normal prices is to structure their products/services as different (and therefore not apples to apples comparable).
I still would bet that the price that they charge Goldman Sachs (just as an example, I don't actually know which investment banks are using their product) is higher than what they charge for any individual government client.
Also, I think it's probably worth noting that the maximum addressable customer base for their products for federal agencies is way smaller than the equivalent number of financial customers. There's really only a handful of agencies that have this capability (I'd guess more than a handful, but probably less than a dozen).
tptacek 6 hours ago | link
Yes: GSA prices are IIRC the result of a pro-forma (and totally BS) discounting process.
phmagic 10 hours ago | link
pretty affordable compared to most enterprise software packages
bicknergseng 10 hours ago | link
trhway 9 hours ago | link
with 90 days warranty :) Can it rot?
Anyway, from their Gotham page https://www.palantir.com/palantir-gotham/
"Working closely with the customer, our engineers integrate and map all of the relevant source data—regardless of type or volume—into a single, coherent model.
Once the model has ted, data flows continuously from its sources into the Palantir Gotham platform.
They can search across all of their data sources at once, visualize relationships, explore divergent hypotheses, discover unknown connections, "
Pretty much my 2009 pitch, and in the hindsight i see that my main weakness was that i couldn't even imagine $150K/core. Man, it is imagination what separates losers from winners! :)
sz4kerto 8 hours ago | link
kdb, a database engine I consider extremely simple compared to Palantir costs $50k/yr/core.
mmcclellan 4 hours ago | link
simple but competent for time series. and the 32-bit version is at least available for free now.
xacaxulu 8 hours ago | link
So Palantir is hiring if you have a clearance :-). Time to get your tax dollars back. Looks like SAIC all over again.
xamdam 6 hours ago | link
You don't need a clearance. We have large commercial deployments.
bane 4 hours ago | link
I did some consulting work with the NYPD and heard you guys also have some deployments with them and other large police forces. Those are nice non-clearance, but cool, jobs as well.
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