From Le Figaro
At the end of February 2018, you left Airbus, where you were number two in the company. We expected you to lead a big company but you’ve surprised everyone by joining Palantir, an American company. Why?
I managed major French and European strategic companies with a passion for 20 years, from a missile manufacturer MBDA to Airbus. I had the opportunity to be in charge of a big group. I made a personal choice that can be surprising for many. Becoming head of Palantir France gives me back freedom, compared to a bigger organization. It’s a radical choice because the job is very different from what I was doing before. Palantir offers me the opportunity to get into more of an entrepreneurial challenge.
Palantir is not that well-known in France. What are its main activities?
Palantir is a Silicon Valley-based company, established in 2003. It currently employs 2,000 people working in 15 offices worldwide. Palantir invested several billion dollars to develop two software platforms that analyze and integrate data. These powerful platforms are able to gather scattered data, clean it up, and re-organize it in order to create correlations that generate solutions to problems, which bring added-value and increase productivity for the client. Palantir is the global leader of what is called big data platforms.
Can you give a tangible example?
Within Airbus, who signed a strategic partnership with Palantir, data coming from a program is dispersed in several departments and locations: engineering, production, assembly line, etc. Palantir gave to Airbus the possibility to gather all of the information from the A350 program, to clean it up and create correlations afterwards. This work contributed to the success of the increase in production of the A350, to a 30% reduction of non-quality problems and to huge savings.
Palantir works with secret services from different countries including the DGSI in France. It was branded as the CIA strong arm. Does this reputation bother you as a former senior executive from Airbus?
I am fully aware that Palantir suffers from such a reputation. Indeed, it has to be said that at the very beginning, as a start-up, Palantir was funded by investment funds, one of which was linked to the CIA.
Today, this investment fund only holds a minor percentage of shares while the rest is owned by private funds. Palantir proposes breakthrough technologies and provides proven data control solutions threatening major tech and industrial companies. Palantir even had to sue the American government who had excluded the company from participating in requests for proposal, although the company proposed a solution at a very low cost. Palantir won the case, as well as the market share.
In France, the company was subject to similar criticism, which is explained by the following: data control is rightly considered by high officials and States, as strategic.
I joined Palantir because I am deeply convinced that France has to rely on these technologies for the purposes of achieving its digital transformation and the development of an ecosystem of French high-tech actors, as wished by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The question of security and integrity of data entrusted to an American company remains. What are the assurances?
Indeed, Palantir needs to provide assurance. However, for the recall, our clients (governments or private companies) choose the appropriate architecture and stocking location for their data. They have full control of their exploitation. Unlike the GAFAM, Palantir does not stock nor exploit in a tradable way its client’s data.
Palantir’s software includes safety controls and strict data protection stipulations. Some of the most remarkable countries in terms of data protection and GDPR, such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark testify that Palantir fully respects these principles.
What are the features of your roadmap?
My first mission is to enable Palantir to become a major French stakeholder, involved in the development of the French start-up ecosystem by providing funds and building partnerships with schools and universities.
In 2019, we’ll open a big office in Paris (le Marais) and we plan to recruit 300 highly-qualified engineers over the next three years, in order to build a significate task force and be able to conduct the development of Palantir’s future products.
I was appointed to develop Palantir France, make it one of Palantir Technologies’s most important pillar by enabling the company to enter new industrial and governmental markets. We are committed to investing in the French high-tech ecosystem in a sustainable way. I want to make out of Palantir a key player of the French Tech ecosystem.
From Le Figaro. October 4, 2018. Fabrice Brégier : «Palantir veut être un acteur majeur de la Tech française». Véronique Guillermard.
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