Office hours with the Head of Design at Palantir and more

10 months ago from , CEO + Founder

Hi everyone, we are building a platform that lets leaders open office hours to advise and mentor. We are focusing on the Product Design vertical initially.

Matt Bango (Head of Design at Palantir), Stephanie Engle (1st Designer at Cruise), Gabriel Valdivia (Head of Design at Canopy), and more have all opened office hours for design/portfolio critiques, management advice, and everything else design related! Check it out below.



  • Jake Lazaroff, 10 months ago

    Hi! Just a heads up in case you're not aware — Palantir builds software to help ICE round up immigrants and their families, so they may not be a company you want to represent this platform. A lot of potential customers are probably driven away by seeing their name on there. Which is a shame, because this looks really cool!

    30 points
    • Juozas Deksnys, 10 months ago

      Please, leave you politically biased opinion offline, sir.

      1 point
    • Ale UrrutiaAle Urrutia, 9 months ago

      I just logged in to upvote your message.

      8 points
    • Rhys MerrittRhys Merritt, 10 months ago

      I agree that this is a great reason to avoid being aligned with a company. Just playing a little devils advocate here... One of my closest friends worked for a government agency for years, and a big part of his work was based on using Palantir to help them recognise financial crime, specifically around human trafficking. Obviously I don't know details of his work, but as I'm in tech, this was a conversation that came up during some of our talks over dinner.

      Yes - Palantir has played a part in some terrible things, but they have also done some amazing things like helping reduce human trafficking. Is it worth decrying them entirely based on part of their work? Even if other parts of their work are overwhelmingly positive?

      I'm a little conflicted here...

      2 points
      • Stuart McCoyStuart McCoy, 10 months ago

        Is it worth decrying them entirely based on part of their work? Even if other parts of their work are overwhelmingly positive?

        Yes. Doing something good doesn't excuse your bad behaviour if you continue to do that bad thing.

        4 points
        • Rhys MerrittRhys Merritt, 9 months ago

          I think you have oversimplified a little. Do you know if Palantir have done more bad than good? If you do, how do you know that? Right now the only perspective I have is this negative piece surrounding ICE, and the positive aspect I've been told by my friend who used the software.

          If Palantir have a net positive impact on the world, I would argue that decrying them is puritanical nonsense. So I'm reserving judgement until I know more.

          1 point
          • JayO ★, 9 months ago

            Helping 1000 old ladies cross the street doesn't absolve you from the one that you kicked in the shin.

            Now take my example at scale where Palantir has fucked possibly hundreds of thousands of immigrants seeking a better life.

            Measuring things in terms of net positive is such bullshit.

            2 points
            • Rhys MerrittRhys Merritt, 9 months ago

              Measuring things in terms of net positive is such bullshit.

              It's not, and your example is hyperbole.

              Your tact is all wrong. See my reply to your comment lower down.

              0 points
      • Jake Lazaroff, 10 months ago

        Obviously nothing is totally homogenous, and we all have to draw our own lines about at what point one part tips the scales for the rest. I recently turned away a recruiter from Facebook because they've reached the point where their constant privacy violations outweigh everything else, but I can appreciate that not everyone sees it that way.

        With regard to Palantir in particular, there are other companies such as Thorn that seem to be fighting human trafficking without also enabling ICE to round up immigrants.

        3 points
        • Rhys MerrittRhys Merritt, 10 months ago

          I recently turned away a recruiter from Facebook because they've reached the point where their constant privacy violations outweigh everything else

          Agree wholeheartedly - I additionally have turned away a recruiter from Revolut because of their unethical tactics around the treatment of their employees, along with their dubious activities around banking licensing, recruitment, and general outlook on work ethic.

          I get your point about other companies like the one you've mentioned fighting human trafficking without also enabling ICE to round up immigrants. I'm not sure it changes my viewpoint though, as I think there is room for more than one single organisation to tackle problems, so I still see it as a big positive for Palantir to be tackling this.

          I don't comment on things as much as I used to a few years ago, but I felt compelled to comment on this because it feels like people today are a little too quick to trash companies for not being perfect - I'd love it if every company had the ethical standpoint of Patagonia, but the reality is that most companies do not, but it doesn't mean that they have nothing good about them. If we trash every company that isn't ethically perfect we will probably lose a LOT of positive value.

          I guess you already summed it up in your first line: "Obviously nothing is totally homogenous, and we all have to draw our own lines about at what point one part tips the scales for the rest".

          Perhaps my line just isn't as far left as some others...

          1 point
          • Jake Lazaroff, 9 months ago

            Yeah, I think there's some base instinct for things to be black and white, like a company/person/whatever is either totally exonerated or fully evil. Basically everything in the real world is some shade of gray.

            That said, let me try to convince you that while Palantir might not be black per se, their shade is really, really dark.

            Palantir's Surveillance Service for Law Enforcement

            The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a person of interest and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives. The capabilities are staggering, according to the guide:

            If police have a name that's associated with a license plate, they can use automatic license plate reader data to find out where they've been, and when they've been there. This can give a complete account of where someone has driven over any time period.

            With a name, police can also find a person's email address, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security number(s), business relationships, family relationships, and license information like height, weight, and eye color, as long as it's in the agency's database.

            How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World

            It’s hard to square this purported commitment to privacy with proof, garnered from documents provided by Edward Snowden, that Palantir has helped expand and accelerate the NSA’s global spy network, which is jointly administered with allied foreign agencies around the world. Notably, the partnership has included building software specifically to facilitate, augment, and accelerate the use of XKEYSCORE, one of the most expansive and potentially intrusive tools in the NSA’s arsenal. According to Snowden documents published by The Guardian in 2013, XKEYSCORE is by the NSA’s own admission its “widest reaching” program, capturing “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.” A subsequent report by The Intercept showed that XKEYSCORE’s “collected communications not only include emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic, but also pictures, documents, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, advertising analytics traffic, social media traffic, botnet traffic, logged keystrokes, computer network exploitation targeting, intercepted username and password pairs, file uploads to online services, Skype sessions, and more.” For the NSA and its global partners, XKEYSCORE makes all of this as searchable as a hotel reservation site.

            Palantir Knows Everything About You

            The platform is supplemented with what sociologist Sarah Brayne calls the secondary surveillance network: the web of who is related to, friends with, or sleeping with whom. One woman in the system, for example, who wasn’t suspected of committing any crime, was identified as having multiple boyfriends within the same network of associates, says Brayne, who spent two and a half years embedded with the LAPD while researching her dissertation on big-data policing at Princeton University and who’s now an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Anybody who logs into the system can see all these intimate ties,” she says. To widen the scope of possible connections, she adds, the LAPD has also explored purchasing private data, including social media, foreclosure, and toll road information, camera feeds from hospitals, parking lots, and universities, and delivery information from Papa John’s International Inc. and Pizza Hut LLC.

            The war inside Palantir: Data-mining firm’s ties to ICE under attack by employees

            ICE agents relied on Palantir’s ICM system during a 2017 operation that targeted families of migrant children, according to an ICE document published in May by Mijente and the Intercept, an online news service. As part of the mission, ICE agents were instructed to use ICM to document any interaction they have with unaccompanied children trying to cross the border. If the agency determined their parents or other family members facilitated smuggling them across the border, the family members could be arrested and prosecuted for deportation, the ICE document said.

            4 points
            • JayO ★, 9 months ago

              You're arguing with a guy who thinks that a company that treats their employees like shit is totally unacceptable, regardless of what they do but a company that helps ICE round up immigrants and break up families is TOTALLY OK.... as long as they do something charitable.

              Not sure if anything you post is going to get through to someone like that.

              0 points
              • Rhys MerrittRhys Merritt, 8 months ago

                Jake’s way of handling this was a lot more tactful and effective - I wasn’t aware of the extent of negative things they’ve done, and being from the UK I wasn’t aware of the gravity of the situation with the ICE topic.

                Instead of treating me like scum and speaking about me like this, consider handling things a little more the way Jake has.

                I am on board with you now, and have changed my opinion now that new information has come to my attention.

                1 point
              • Jake Lazaroff, 9 months ago

                I think you’re straw manning his position. I also don’t think this was an “argument” — it seemed pretty clear (to me, at least) that we were discussing in good faith.

                Many people simply don’t know the extent of what Palantir is doing. That’s why I started with “just a heads up in case you don’t know”: why excoriate people who may not even know what’s going on?

                1 point