Marc Abramowitz, an investor in Palantir, told a court on Wednesday that Oracle Corp had held discussions last year with a view to acquiring the data analytics firm. According to the investor the founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison and the chairman of Palantir, Peter Thiel, discussed a plan which would see the enterprise software maker purchase the data miner.
The revelations were made in a case in which Abramowitz is accusing Palantir of thwarting his efforts to dispose of his shareholding in the data analytics firm. Abramowitz now wants Palantir compelled to grant him access to records that confirm that the acquisition talks were indeed held as well as other corporate moves.
$20 billion-dollar company
In his testimony Abramowitz also revealed that the meeting to broker an acquisition was set up by the investor and a former executive of Walt Disney, Michael Ovitz, who has also invested in the data mining company which was two years ago valued by investors at $20 billion.
‘‘The idea was to make an introduction to see if Oracle would pursue an acquisition,’’ Abramowitz told a judge in a Delaware court.
Additionally, Abramowitz also said that an official at Palantir confided in him that two years ago Goldman Sachs had pitched to the data analytics firm an initial public offering that would net $30 billion. Last month the chief executive officer of Palantir, Alex Karp, revealed that the company is positioned for an initial public offering.
Also Abramowitz is demanding to know whether Karp is being excessively compensated. He also wants to know whether it is necessary to waste company resources on expenses such hiring the CEO’s private security. Started in 2004, most of Palantir’s revenues were from contracts with the government until last year when the share of revenues from consumer good firms, banks and other clients rose to rival those from the public sector.
The battle by Abramowitz is the latest by an investor in a startup who is frustrated the disclosure laws that govern private firms. Generally, the laws are considered uneven since an investor’s access to information depends on the number of shares they hold. The bigger the shareholding the more the information the investor can be provided with. This is done ostensibly to ensure secrecy but it leaves small investors in the dark. A similar thing has happened in other startups such as Mu Sigma, OrderUp Inc and Stiefel Laboratories Inc.