In the wake of various tech “unicorns” (i.e., startups valued at over a billion dollars) crashing and burning on the public markets (hi, Uber!), ultra-secretive data firm Palantir is reportedly planning to delay its IPO for a few more years. That could impact all the software engineers who are racking up substantial equity in Palantir as part of their overall compensation package.
But how much are those Palantir software engineers actually earning? Fortunately, we have levels.fyi, which crowdsources data, to give us a hint. Take a look:
The levels.fyi numbers align with those from Glassdoor, which suggests average software engineer base pay at Palantir is $124,967, with average additional pay of $16,256 (like levels.fyi, Glassdoor crowdsources its data). Some 35 employees told Glassdoor they’d received a cash bonus (averaging $16,256), while 10 said they’d received a stock bonus (averaging $41,243).
Palantir’s compensation seems roughly aligned with what software engineers make at some of tech’s biggest companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, and IBM:
Among Big Data firms, Palantir is particularly secretive, which should come as no surprise given how its clients include the CIA and several big banks (including Credit Suisse). A job at Palantir has traditionally come with some fantastic perks, although the last year has seen some belt-tightening—for example, no more 13-course tasting-menu lunches, business-class travel, and artisanal bacon. That burst of fiscal prudence is apparently due to the company losing out on some big contracts, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The company’s products include Foundry, a data-analytics package for enterprise clients; although the software is designed for use by a wide range of employees (i.e., not just data specialists), Palantir also makes additional cash by assigning software engineers to help clients through their data problems. Alongside its more secretive bespoke data projects (Palantir’s analytics supposedly helped with the hunt for Osama bin Laden), such efforts may translate into $1 billion in revenue this year—although that might not be enough to render the firm profitable.
Palantir’s government contracts might also give it some trouble recruiting top talent, considering how similar programs at other major tech firms have drawn substantial protest from employees. In summer 2019, for example, Google employees begged their senior leadership to stop working with U.S. border and immigration agencies; Microsoft employees similarly protested the company’s contracts with ICE. Palantir’s moves have been under some scrutiny, as well, although the company’s self-imposed cone of silence means it hasn’t attracted the same degree of attention; expect that to change if and when an IPO happens.
For those willing to work with Palantir, the compensation clearly matches that of other tech firms. If you’re interested in working for a secretive data-analytics startup with ties to some of the world’s largest companies and governments, it could be the job for you.