Palantir Technologies Hires British Security Official

The Silicon Valley startup is beefing up its senior ranks.

By: Shane Harris

Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup that has become an influential player in Washington’s spy world, is beefing up its senior ranks. The company has hired Gavin Hood, a British lawyer and national security expert, to be the chief of staff to Palantir CEO Alex Karp.

Hood has served as a liaison between British and US national security and intelligence agencies, and he is well known in counterterrorism circles. He was recently the legal adviser to the British embassy in Washington, where he dealt with national security issues. And his connections to American policymakers include a stint as the United Kingdom’s legal adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, which ran the country following the 2003 invasion by US and allied forces.

"Gavin is a brilliant catch for Palantir. He's a smart and charming diplomat and has gotten to know everyone in the intelligence community in Washington," says John Bellinger, a partner in the national security practice at Arnold & Porter who previously served as the legal adviser for the Department of State in the Bush administration. 

At Palantir, Hood will join other former high-level intelligence officials who advise on business and strategy for the company, which makes sophisticated data-analysis software. It’s used by military forces and the intelligence agencies to share classified information. And it has been especially helpful tracking terrorist suspects and identifying terrorist networks, according to government officials who use the product.

Last year, Palantir hired Michael Leiter, the former director of the US National Counterterrorism Center, as a senior counsel. The company’s advisers also include a former CIA intelligence officer and aide to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, as well as top officials from the so-called “Five Eyes,” an international partnership comprised of intelligence and security services from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Karp, Palantir’s CEO, said Hood’s “legal, policy, and national security expertise, combined with his experience working with the UK Foreign Service and with a range of governments and international organizations around the world, will help guide the company as we continue to grow and expand into new markets.”

Palantir’s business has been primarily focused on US government agencies and American companies. But it is expanding in the United Kingdom, as well, and will be working closely with British security officials for the upcoming Olympic Games, company executives said.