I worked at Palantir Technologies full-time
Technology companies which produce inspiring products and create new things seem to be exclusively top-down (hopefully benevolent) dictatorships. Palantir is the only tech company I know of which has successfully created more than one valuable software product while maintaining bottom-up cultural model that emphasizes the great potential depth and inventiveness of the individual. The culture is close-knit and principled, and the hiring is impressively discerning. One works alongside especially entrepreneurial, freethinking, individuals who can be trusted to deliver outcomes.
The company seeks to make a difference, working in complex real-world problems, and is willing to experiment. The former matches poorly with maximizing leisure and with confining one's reasoning in the workday to a reassuringly clean, Platonic virtual environment. The latter means you run the risk of working on an experiment that fails. Still, I'd say failed experiments at Palantir are very different from failed experiments that had been the pet career bet of a typical anodyne VP / middle manager at a large tech company: the former more often than not metamorphose into critical, later-successful developments as the company begins to solve problems in a new sector of the economy; the latter are unfortunately often all sunk cost with little redeeming.
Advice to Management
Hold to your principles. Ensure that the culture of ongoing reinvention persists. Focus on alignment with customers and hires alike, and do not begin to cater to the median as the company grows. Maintain the rigorous hiring care that has defined the company thus far.
I applied online. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Palantir Technologies (San Francisco, CA) in July 2011.
I had a phone screening with one member of the finance team. The person was very kind but the questions were kind of difficult for an introductory phone screening. There were a lot of questions about security insights as well as policy questions about Palantir. Overall the experience was good but I had the feeling that the questions were not so much related to the role.
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