Palantir, the secretive $20 billion data-mining startup cofounded by Peter Thiel, is buying $225 million of stock back from employees.
The catch, reports BuzzFeed’s William Alden, is that employees and “certain” ex-employees are eligible for the buyback offer only if they agree to a variety of conditions, including:
The renewal of their nondisclosure agreements. An agreement not to poach Palantir employees for 12 months. A promise not to sue the company or company executives. An agreement not to talk to the press – and a promise to forward any emails from reporters to Palantir within three days.
If Palantir employees agree to these terms, then they’re eligible to sell 12.5% of their equity, or $500,000 worth, of shares back to the company, whichever is lower. At $7.40 a share, Palantir is offering a higher price than the level at which the preferred shares were valued by some investors, BuzzFeed reports.
It’s a big payout for employees of Palantir, which is backed by the CIA’s venture-capital arm and which has historically capped salaries at lower than competitive rates and made up the gap with stock options.
For the business itself, these rules are a way to ensure its veil of secrecy. That’s especially important now, following a previous report by BuzzFeed about high employee turnover and lost customer deals at Palantir that have been an embarrassment for a company that tries to keep a low profile.
Palantir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.