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Palantir COO on company's success: Pandemic has been ‘a real accelerant’ for us

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Palantir COO Shyam Shankar joins Yahoo Finance Live to break down the tech company’s success amid pandemic and discuss what’s next for Palantir in 2021 and beyond.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: Palantir shares have been on a tear this year, up 52% in part because investors are getting a little more comfortable with the software company's business and outlook. Since Palantir debuted via direct listing on September 30, the stock has gained an impressive 268%. Let's dive into Palantir now with its COO, Shyam Shankar. Shyam, good to see you this morning, appreciate you taking the time. Hey listen, the stock has been on a tremendous run, how's business?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Well, thank you for having me, Brian, it's great to be here this morning. Things are going great. As we've discussed previously, COVID has been a real accelerant to our business and that's because we've spent the last 17 years building a product that was really meant for this moment to help organizations and governments manage through crises like this. And so the world has been kind of wildly disrupted, but we see this as an opportunity to step up every day and do more. And it's pretty exciting for us.

BRIAN SOZZI: Let's stay on that, on your COVID work. You recently signed a three-year deal with the FDA to assess the safety of certain drugs, which includes potential COVID-19 vaccines. What is your-- what is your data telling you there with regards to the safety of these types of vaccines?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Well, I have no specific insight into the FDA's data. We're proud to provide data to the FDA, the NIH, who is integrating data from over 70 institutions around clinical trials related to COVID-- COVID treatments, along with NIH, HHS, and protect looking at capacity, and utilization, and making sure that their health care service is available. And so I think this is a crucial time to help folks manage the supply chain and get the right drugs to the market as quickly as possible.

BRIAN SOZZI: Nobody-- I don't need to tell you this, your company sits on a-- a really a ton-- a ton of interesting data. What is your data telling you right now in where we are in terms of the pandemic? And what could happen next?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Well, the data-- we really help our customers manage their own data, we have no visibility into that. But what I do see dealing with customers is that they're dealing with just massive simultaneous disruptions. They have supply side disruptions, how do I get the materials I need to continue production? Durability of operations, how do I protect my staff so that we can keep going here?

And then on the demand side, your historical demand forecasts don't mean anything anymore. So how do I manage through this? And I think every single-- whether you're a commercial organization or you're a national health service like the NHS, all of these are versions of supply chain problems. And that disruption we're seeing everywhere.

BRIAN SOZZI: Palantir came out this week and signed a new deal with mining giant Rio Tinto. What exactly will you be doing with them? And is that indicative of a steadier pace of deals? Because if there has been any knock on Palantir, it's that your deals are a little lumpy, they come in large chunks. High class problem to have, but nonetheless, what is your outlook?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Yeah, we're very excited about the multi-year enterprise-wide partnership with Rio Tinto there. We're helping them wield their vast amounts of internal data, data they generate from operations, from production planning, from logistics, from customer interactions, to help them run a more efficient company, a more competitive company.

And the work there is super exciting. One of the first things we've helped deliver is a fully connected underground mining operation. And that's part and parcel with how we think about Foundry, our software solution there, being an operating system for the modern enterprise. So there's a lot of great work ahead of us there and we're very excited about that industry.

BRIAN SOZZI: Perhaps you can alleviate some of the concerns on the street regarding your government business, that's where you operate, if I'm correct, using Gotham, really one of your trademark platforms. Has there been any change in the government pipeline now that we have a change in the White House?

SHYAM SHANKAR: We remain incredibly excited about the government business here. It's always worth remembering that we work now under four US administrations, five in the UK, four in France, two in Germany. We've worked with President Biden when he was overseeing the anti-fraud efforts in the Recovery Act and with Vice President Harris when she was the attorney general of California on various criminal justice initiatives. But much more importantly than that, the people who make these decisions, the people who choose, perhaps, to buy our software, they are career civil servants and they've worked under many more administrations than we have.

BRIAN SOZZI: Is it fair to-- is what you're selling and what you do, is it essential for government moving forward just given all the risk we've seen around cyber security or other attacks on the country?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Well, I think-- I think what we do is quite important and crises like this really catalyze that. I think not only commercial institutions and governments, but also citizens are going to demand some of the innovation that has been catalyzed through this crisis well into the future here. So there's certainly a big opportunity around this.

BRIAN SOZZI: Shyam, I'm so-- I'm sure you've been watching us all week and you've seen all the crazy market activity. Your stock has been swept up in this a little bit. The closing day price for your first day of trading was on September-- on September 30, $9.50. Your stock is now over $37, just looking at the ticker on the screen. Do you think the stock price where it is now, does it-- does it reflect accurately Palantir's future?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Well, Brian, I've been in Palantir for 15 years and I'm just focused on doing the work. I think for things like this we really have to maybe sit down 15 years from now and have a discussion about how it all played out.

BRIAN SOZZI: What do you-- what you-- you've been in Silicon Valley for a while, now you have moved the company's headquarters to Denver. Just what's your take on the market activity right now?

SHYAM SHANKAR: I'm an expert on how you wield data to transform enterprises, how we manage ourselves through these supply chains. I'll leave-- I'll leave the market commentary to the other much more prodigious experts you have here.

BRIAN SOZZI: Fair enough. All right, Palantir COO, Shyam Shankar, good to see you, stay safe, and we'll talk to you soon.

SHYAM SHANKAR: Thank you guys.