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Ex-NZ Tech CEO Candace Kinser becomes NZ lead of analytics company Palantir

Ex-NZ Tech CEO Candace Kinser becomes NZ lead of analytics company Palantir

Silicon Valley company is named for the magical seeing stone in the Lord of the Rings

Candace Kinser has moved from championing the local information technology sector, to becoming 'leverage lead' for New Zealand for analytics company Palantir Technologies.

Palantir, with headquarters in Palo Alto, California, is also a member of NZTech, the organisaton Kinser headed for three years until last October. It was founded by PayPal alumni.

Palantir's headquarters is called ‘The Shire’, and the brand was named from the spherical seeing stone in the Lord of the Rings.

The idea for Palantir came from the founders' experience at PayPal - whose real problem was fraud detection, Kinser tells CIO New Zealand.

“In a post 9/11 world, Palantir's founders realised that the intelligence community and also hedge funds faced similar problems to PayPal, which was finding lots of sparse data that changes quickly with very little time to make decisions and allowing humans to interact with the data at a conceptual level,” says Kinser.

Read more: From anthropology to information technology

Through the use of technology, we can proactively handle issues that threaten our agricultural industry and health of our population through disease tracking through to protecting our people from criminals and fraud.

Candace Kinser, Palantir Technologies

Today, Palantir provides an analytics platform for organisations to make use of their many data silos, she says. It incorporates geospatical capabilities, large scale data mining (petabytes), algorithmic engines and data integration.

She says Palantir software is deployed across intelligence, defence, banking, finance, health, commercial and regulation sectors in more than 100 countries.

Its customers include the LAPD for law enforcement database management and crime investigation; Corrections Victoria in Australia for improving intelligence gathering and prediction of risks; the Centres for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) for maintaining awareness and tracking disease and foodborne illness outbreaks; and JPMorgan bank for fraud detection and market analysis.

Read more: This CEO role is equivalent to getting an MBA on the job: NZTech chair

“My role will be to develop business opportunities in the region and support our engagement of engineers," says Kinser. "There is tremendous value that we can bring to financial institutions, healthcare, disaster planning, cyber security capabilities across government and the world's best data analytics capability to businesses of all sizes.”

Palantir has around 1500 employees; of which more than 75 per cent are engineers. “I could not pass up the opportunity to work with truly the best technology engineers in the world to solve the biggest problems we face,” Kinser says.

Palantir is hiring for engineers and developers that are the best in their craft, she says. Positions are available in New Zealand, Australia and postings around the world.

“I wanted to work with the best company in the world at solving the biggest problems we face today - across security, human exploitation, fraud and healthcare,” says Kinser.

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“Living here in New Zealand, we are in a position to handle threats in a proactive way, to be prepared," says Kinser. "Through the use of technology, we can proactively handle issues that threaten our agricultural industry and health of our population through disease tracking through to protecting our people from criminals and fraud."

I wanted to work with the best company in the world at solving the biggest problems we face today - across security, human exploitation, fraud and healthcare.

Candace Kinser, Palantir Technologies

She says one of the key traits that attracted her to Palantir is the company’s "adherence to a strong belief that privacy and civil liberties protective capabilities should be 'baked in' to technology from the start rather than grafted onto it later as an afterthought".

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“I am absolutely passionate that personal liberty does not have to be sacrificed to enhance security for all, in fact, technology should protect personal freedom,” Kinser says.

"Palantir is constantly looking for ways to protect privacy and individual liberty through its technology while enabling the powerful analysis necessary to generate the actionable intelligence that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to fulfill their missions, and I agree, particularly for New Zealand."

Palantir is now considered one of the most valuable private companies in technology, with a reported valuation of US$9 billion, according to Fortune.

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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