A version of this article originally appeared on eFinancialCareers.
Remember Palantir Technologies? It’s the highly secretive data science company that counts places such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan among its clients. You could say it specializes in deciphering data to unearth what people are up to (J.P Morgan used Palantir to peer at its employees). However, it also has a reputation for excellent staff perks (the Wall Street Journal wrote last week that Palantir employees were used to being served artisanal bacon, until it became apparent that the company needed to show it was focusing extra-hard on the business and standard bacon was served, instead).
Despite doubts about Palantir’s profitability globally, the company seems to be doing okay in the UK: Palantir Technologies UK Ltd just released its accounts for the year ending December 2017, revealing a profit of £6m ($7.8m) on revenues of £130m, compared to a loss of £4m on revenues of £83m the year before.
Palantir’s accounts also reveal how much it pays its UK employees, and the extent to which it’s growing. In 2017, the company increased UK headcount by 35 percent, to 343 people (39 in customer support, 233 in sales and marketing, 71 in general and admin). It paid them a total of £75m, excluding employers’ taxes, or an average of £220k ($281,000) per head.
This is clearly very generous. However, given the near-impossibility of getting a job at Palantir (Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam said this week that Palantir only accepts one in every 100,000 applicants), some might have expected Palantir’s pay to be even higher still. After all, the data firm typically competes for talent with top quantitative hedge funds, which have been known to pay $400k to entry-level PhDs. But on Glassdoor, engineering salaries at Palantir generally average between $92,000 and $130,000 per year; that doesn’t preclude a few “superstars” earning massive salaries, but it also hints that equity and perks are a big part of individual pay packages, at least in the United States.
Of course, Palantir isn’t just about the pay. It’s also about the kudos (the CEO says it’s a “a colony of artists”) and the perks. There’s also the potential to make money if and when Palantir does go public. Last year, around 33 percent of UK compensation was made in the form of “share-based payments,” and U.S. workers are certainly given equity, as well. These shares could appreciate if Palantir has a successful IPO, although disputes about the company’s valuation mean its employees might not want to count too heavily on a big increase in the value of their share-based holdings in the near future.