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Dinner with Peter Thiel and the Exploratorium: an Intern’s Saturday Night

Peter Thiel. Twenty-foot tornadoes to touch. Bite-sized PB&J macaroons. No, you’re not dreaming. You’re at Palantir Intern Night 2012.

On July 14, interns from across the Bay Area experienced a one-of-a-kind evening at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Our intern class, along with friends from around the Valley, enjoyed dinner and an address from Thiel, who shared Palantir’s founding story and answered questions from the interns. One intern asked why Thiel chose to name the company “Palantir,” given the sometimes negative associations of the seeing stones in The Lord of the Rings.

Thiel paused for a moment before launching into his response:

“Well, in the First Age of Middle Earth, Palantirs were indisputably good. I would argue that in the Second Age of Middle Earth [….] they were as well.”

After regaling the audience with a brief history of Middle Earth, he closed his explanation with some philosophy:

In the Third Age under Sauron, they were used for evil, and really that just reminds us that there’s great responsibility that comes with power and that anything can become corrupted if we’re not careful.

This context provides a telling link between Palantir’s name and the company’s commitment to protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties—a commitment that has been central to Palantir since its earliest Age.

After his talk, Thiel hosted the interns at his house for chess and an impromptu rooftop dance party, truly making the night a nerd’s dream come true.

Check out all the Intern Night 2012 Pictures

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