Twenty Years of Palantir
Founder George DeMet reflects on our history in the open source community and the principles that led us to where we are today.
For many people in North America, February 2 is best known as Groundhog Day. And while we here at Palantir are big fans of Punxsutawney Phil, this year we’re using the day to also celebrate a new holiday that we’re calling ++ Day.
Your first question is probably, “What the heck is a ‘++’ and why does it deserve its own day?”
++ has its origins in the C programming language, where it’s used as an operator to add one to the value of a particular variable. Over time, it’s become known as an informal shorthand for building and improving on past success. Those used to working in chat programs like Slack or IRC may also recognize ++ as a way to recognize the efforts of others by giving them positive “props”or “karma points”.
At Palantir, we’ve been using ++ as a way to recognize our clients and each other for years on various chat programs and platforms. The ++ motif has even been woven into our internal and external branding, appearing on everything from socks to water bottles. For us, the concept of ++ goes beyond just giving each other recognition for a job well done. It plays directly into several of the principles we hold dear at Palantir, like growing relationships through mutual trust and respect, communicating with clarity and honesty, and working to thoughtfully and deliberately make the best choices and help others to do so as well. Fostering and encouraging those principles not just among our team members, but also with our clients and in the communities in which we participate is just one of the ways that we build work to help others discover, create, and share knowledge.
We live in a time when the way that people communicate with each other is changing rapidly, and this transition has led to outcomes that are both positive and negative. All too often, the tools that we use to share information with each other online lack the bandwidth or precision to effectively communicate understanding. In other cases, these tools can be misused by bad actors to share disinformation or sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt. At a very fundamental level, the work we do is designed to recognize, address, and mitigate those problems to help people communicate in better and more meaningful ways online.
This means that the ways that we communicate with each other, our clients, and our communities are incredibly important, especially given that we are a remote-first company. We have spent many years learning how to collaborate in a thoughtful, respectful, and sustainable way, even when we’re hundreds or thousands of miles apart. Finding ways to be positive, supportive, and constructive online is not just vital for the success of our business, it’s also how we help do our part to make the world a better place for everyone.
How can you get involved? After you’ve checked to see if the groundhog has seen his shadow today, take a moment to think about the people who have helped make a positive difference in your life. Then find a way to recognize and celebrate those people online. Instead of using social media and other online tools to tear each other apart, let’s find ways to use them to bring people together.
Happy ++ Day!