What happened and why The Direct Listing show just keeps giving and this week was more controversial than ever. Data giant, Palantir, best-known for supplying data-sifting software to governments, fetched an initial value of $22bn in its stock market debut, before 'slumping' to $15.8bn later in trading. But that's still a chunky number for a 17-year-old firm that has never turned a profit, and one that has been hit by major privacy concerns. Palantir does a lot of stuff that most people don't really understand. However, understanding its customers and how it helps, is a good place to start... 🗄️ Make big-data friendly again... Backed by right-wing tech investor Peter Thiel and the CIA since 2003, Palantir builds programmes that pull together massive data sets and spits out patterns in user-friendly formats. Simples.👻 The scary stuff... The "scariest" of America's tech giants - got its big-break working with US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now the company also supplies software to the police and corporate clients. Palantir's rise has been over-shadowed by concerns over the firm's surveillance and analysis of data. With drivers licenses, social media posts and DNA swabs reportedly featuring, people's right to privacy is ripe for abuse. Stateside, the immigration authorities use of the tech to round-up undocumented immigrants and that has drawn heated protests. 🇬🇧 Back in the UK... the health data handled by the firm has alarm bells ringing and in a world where making sense of data is all the rage, Palantir says the need for the kind of software it sells "has never been greater"... Corporate sell-out... Despite some rocky early attempts to crack the corporate world, Palantir's commercial business has grown - clients now include BP, Airbus and Ferrari.And worryingly for the conscious out there... the corporate world now accounts for 53% of revenue and in the first half of 2020, Palantir revenue rose 49% to hit $480m. In addition to the questionable human rights nature of the business, it is the founding team and polar-political nature of Peter Thiel (the chairman) and Alex Karp (the chief executive)... The chairman... Thiel, who made his fortune via the sale of PayPal and an early investment in Facebook, also funded the Hulk Hogan invasion of privacy case that bankrupted news site Gawker.The chief... Karp, is a self-described neo-Marxist, with a doctorate degree in neo-classical social theory from a Goethe University in Germany. | The Takeaway Give us some privacy... Palantir may be born in the USA, but it actually employs more people in London than anywhere else. Ahead of its New York listing, Amnesty International issued a report saying the firm was failing its responsibility as a company to protect human rights with inadequate due diligence into who it is working for. Just saying. The flotation was one of two direct listings on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Asana, the productivity software led by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, ended the day valued at more than $4.6bn.