Well, I think that's their intention. Pretend to be a software tool maker, but really be a services group. However, that radically changes the investment/return story. Because software, once you make a tool, you can sell it a hundred billion times for pretty much no additional cost and make pure profit after the first few thousand seats pays off the initial investment. But humans (services) don't return investment like this and most services work is very one-off by nature.
> As a sidenote, your info is outdated. At least for the user-facing portion (which I saw - I obviously didn't get to see the graph/backend internals), it's all web-app-based now.
This is important either way:
- if they're still pushing out the JWS client they used to have available as a demo for most of a decade (Op Tradestop), then the VC money isn't funding technology, it's funding sales and marketing expansion of the core services business
- if they're using web tech, there's plenty of very good, very mature web tech that's open/free for anybody to use, killing off their "secret sauce" sales lead-in and their customer stickiness. Here's their only known publicly facing web tech  I'll let readers decide if this is the output of a $20billion valuation company or something a couple guys over a weekend could cook up.
- if their back-end is just big-data scalable whatever (and their technologies page seems to indicate it is ), then they aren't offering any value to their customers there either
1 - https://d3svb6mundity5.cloudfront.net/dashboard/index.html
2 - https://www.palantir.com/palantir-gotham/technologies/
Are you kidding me? If that extremely-slick dashboard (I hadn't seen it before) is representative of the quality of their UI for all their products (I actually doubt it is), as an enterprise/government company I am shocked they have not yet annihilated their competition. If it is representative, we now know why they have to spend money on lobbying - the only reason their competitors are alive is because of entrenched influence.
What's hilarious is you've broken down individual components of Palantir's offering and made the case that each individual component can be replaced by open-source or by a competitor. But that's literally missing the forest for the trees. It's the whole integrated package that matters. Nobody (or very few) is doing the whole package as well as they are.
If you read what I've said in this thread, I actually completely agree with you.
That map dashboard is like hundreds of similar dashboards I've seen elsewhere. I literally just saw a guy put something like that together in a couple weeks for an internal project where I work using mapbox and some d3.js bits. It even had a time slicer like this one and clickable map features.
So why isn't everybody as visible? I suspect getting a billion+/year in VC helps. But they've also managed to unify several key user-facing tools into a nice package and generalized it enough to support lots of different problem sets. Something that still seems beyond most companies.
From what I recall of their old public demo (Op Tradestop), their ontology data-input engine was pretty nice (if labor intensive) and it allowed for some easy to use queries against the enterpise graph. You can get pretty far locally with Visio, omnigraphle or yED, but they've managed to centralize the information input and retrieval in a nice way that seems easy enough to do by anybody who's seen it.
It might turn out that at scale it just doesn't provide enough value, or the labor intensive data entry parts make it not work well. Who knows?
Customers want dashboards and Palantir provides excellent dashboard tooling. Dashboards make people feel smart and feel like they are learning something. But dashboards are not as useful as people think and usually fail to return enough value to cover the cost. As Palantir is so expensive the bar is higher and often not met - hence the losing of customers.
Customers need data models but they don't know it yet. The charts used with models are usually not interesting if they exist at all. If you did show charts of the data models to the customer it often makes them feel dumb and out of control - few people like that. They're also dependent on you to interpret the models and customers don't like that either.
So given the choice of comforting lie or uncomfortable truth the vast majority will choose the lie. So if you're in the business of selling comforting lies don't be surprised when they fail to work.
My bet is Palantir knows more about their customer's needs than you do.