Silicon Valley CEO joins Elon Musk in considering leaving California

Silicon Valley-based software company Palantir is considering following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s lead and openly considering leaving the “increasing intolerance and monoculture” of California, its co-founder said.

Speaking during an appearance Monday on “Axios on HBO,” CEO Alex Karp said the company was “getting close” to deciding whether it would leave the golden state.

Karp was interviewed via teleconference from a home he was quarantining at in New Hampshire, during which he said that while the company hasn’t picked a new location for its headquarters, “it’s going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast…If I had to guess, I would guess something like Colorado.”

“I’ve been distanced [from Silicon Valley] for the last 15 years. And so I’m used to being social distanced in the Valley. And now social distancing has become a way of life,” Karp continued.

Palantir is a data-mining firm whose software collects and synthesizes data to help governments thwart terror plots before they are carried out. It was co-founded by Karp and Peter Thiel, a major ally of President Trump who was an angel investor in the company.

The company currently has a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help the federal government create a new data platform that will be called “HHS Protect Now,” according to The Daily Beast.

The platform will play a major role in helping the federal government track the spread of the novel coronavirus by pulling intelligence used by top administration officials, including Trump himself.

Palantir also picked up a contract with the Pentagon earlier this year to develop targeting artificial intelligence for military drones. The contract was initially with Google, but the conglomerate abandoned the deal after employees protested it, questioning the ethics of providing the American military with technology.

Karp bemoaned in the interview how some companies in Silicon Valley avoided business that could upset staffers, something else he blamed on the “monoculture” of Palo Alto.

Karp’s comments come just weeks after Elon Musk threatened to move his electric car company’s California headquarters to Texas or Nevada.

Musk made the pledge amid a heated spat with the state’s Gov. Gavin Newsom after Alameda County officials blocked him from reopening his car factory in Fremont. The plant had been shut down since late March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Palo Alto-based company restarted production at the factory in defiance of an order by officials, with Musk effectively daring local authorities to arrest him.

The company also sued to block Alameda County from enforcing the order before officials agreed to let the plant reopen as long as it sufficiently protected workers from the virus.

President Trump tweeted his support of Musk’s efforts to get his employees back to work, writing in mid-May, “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!”

Musk thanked the commander-in-chief for his support in a follow up message.

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