Davos 2023: Palantir CEO predicts hiring while preparing for economic slowdown

Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies poses beside the company's logo in Davos
Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies poses beside the company's logo ahead of an interview with Reuters in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 23, 2022. Picture taken May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Palantir Technologies Inc (PLTR.N) is still looking to grow its headcount even as it scrutinizes its spending and confronts economic uncertainty, its chief executive told Reuters.

The U.S. software company in 2023 expects to add a couple hundred people to its roughly 3,500 staff, in line with prior years of expansion just as peers in the technology industry are firing people, CEO Alex Karp said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Vociferously contrarian, the company for years planned for war, political upheaval and a souring economy - though not a pandemic, "the only disaster I think we did not predict," Karp said, joking that Palantir had "a basement filled with things prepared (but) no masks."

Palantir has clinched more business following Russia's war with Ukraine, selling software to visualize an army's positions as well as help enterprises vet their supply chains or reduce costs. Still, its stock is down more than 50% in the past year like other tech companies.

Economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum largely expect a recession this year.

Asked about potential cuts, Karp said Palantir was doing well in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada while evaluating spend in slower markets.

"Things could get much, much worse, and then of course everything's on the table," Karp said.

The economy already is pinching Palantir's customers. Karp said one of clients' top-ten priorities was reducing what they were spending on cloud-computing, and Palantir was partnering with Cloudflare Inc (NET.N) to monitor such usage.

"They're under enormous cost pressure. This is just a huge cost center, and they need to find ways to do the same things cheaper," he said. The top cloud providers are Amazon (AMZN.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Google (GOOGL.O), though Karp said his company is "cloud agnostic."

Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Davos, Switzerland; Editing by Josie Kao

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