Palantir was founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel, Alex Karp, Joe Lonsdale, Stephen Cohen, and Nathan Gettings. Early investments came in the form of $2 million from the CIA's venture arm In-Q-Tel and $30 million from Thiel and his firm, The Founders Fund. Alex Karp is Palantir’s CEO. Palantir’s name comes from the "seeing stones" in the Lord of the Rings.
Palantir was built through iterative collaboration between computer scientists and analysts from various intelligence agencies over the course of nearly three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel.