Posit partners with... Palantir?!

I'm shocked to see this news: Palantir, Posit join hands for RStudio integration (NYSE:PLTR) | Seeking Alpha

Palantir is not a firm I consider in alignment with Posit/Rstudio values and certainly not my own. I'd very much like to see some Posit response on why this partnership makes sense from their perspective and how this will not be a net negative for society in general.

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I cant find a posit press release, but here's a Palantir one: Palantir IR

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I find this news very disturbing!

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While realizing Posit is a commercial company, lie down with dogs wake up with fleas. I hope it was at least lucrative.

No response yet from the Posit crew? The silence is almost more troubling than the partnership itself.

Hi David,

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to respond; I had to do a little investigation internally to make sure what I reported back is accurate. (In situations like this, I’m sure that you understand it’s worth prioritizing accuracy over speed).

Our goal is to help customers use our products in the environments where their data lives. This integration allows existing RStudio Workbench customers to use their licenses within Palantir Foundry (we've done similar integrations for DataBricks, SageMaker, and Azure).

Foundry is a platform that enables fine grained control over visibility and access to data, and many of our customers who require data governance, privacy, and access auditing are either evaluating Foundry or are using it. For example, the UK’s National Health Service uses Foundry to help monitor public health events while ensuring patient privacy. This integration will make it easier for customers committed to Foundry to use R and RStudio.

Hadley

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This post doesn't say anything more about what this partnership is or why you did it. If anything it seems to play down the nature of the relationship compared to information already in the Palantir press release (where's the Posit press release?).

The Guardian described Palantir succinctly as "the big tobacco of the tech world".

The association of Palantir with the UK National Health Service has been controversial:

Clearly the fight wasn't over because the year after that, they're gunning for a much bigger contract:

There's a campaign to get them out of the NHS: https://nopalantir.org.uk/

If open source company A decided it didn't want to partner with controversial company B then B has at least two choices: offer to pay A more money until money trumps morals, or find company C with less distaste for the controversy. There must be some distaste for the activities and approaches of Palantir within the Posit staff.

I look forward to Peter Thiel's keynote at posit::conf.

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Using the iris dataset is bad. But enabling a company that designs data solutions to target the most vulnerable seems ok. Makes sense

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I think Posit leadership has definitely not considered what many in the community of users expect from a company that says it's a "public benefit corporation".

We expect better than: other "friendly" orgs (given your example of HHS) use this software, so it's OK that they "primarily" enable many overnment entities to find and deport people, or the military to make it easier to find people to kill.

This is not an "official" response, but just from me as an individual. Here's what I've been able to find out. Please take it as coming from "just Jenny" and with the knowledge that this is not my wheelhouse. I'm not officially in the loop for business development, pro products, Posit communications, etc. I could have some stuff wrong here, but it's my best effort at summarizing what I know and what I feel.

My main conclusion is that the word "partnership" is doing a lot of work here that leaves the wrong impression. Or at least allows/encourages a wide range of impressions.

I think that no money was exchanged, nor is planned to be. Nor is there some ongoing technical collaboration. My understanding is that this "partnership" means that someone who has a license for a Posit pro product can use the license to run that product in a Palantir platform called Foundry. Allowing that was related to very specific needs and requests from existing pro customers. And that's it.

So how do I feel about that? All other things being equal, yes, I would prefer no relationship to Palantir. But I can also live with a Posit pro product being used on a Palantir platform. I can accept that we need pro customers and some of those customers might elect to compute on a platform offered by a company I have issues with.

It feels like Palantir is a company who gets a lot of bad press and deservedly so. And they probably take advantage of any opportunity they perceive to get good press and announcing a "parnership" with a company like Posit is such an opportunity. I think the press release contains some boilerplate language from the Posit side that has been used many times before. Combined with the open-ended word "partnership", the community reaction is very understandable.

I hope this at least offers some clarification of what this "partnership" actuall means in practice. And conveys that many of us internally are pretty upset about the whole incident ourselves.

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We've taken another stab at an explanation on the posit blog: Posit and Palantir - Posit

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Thanks for the helpful comments. One further question if I may:

It’s not uncommon for businesses with this sort of relationship to offer each other referral commissions for bringing on shared customers. I assume based on the comments made that no such arrangement exists, is that correct? Can the Posit leadership commit to notifying the R community if anything changes in this regard?

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@milesmcbain As someone who worked in Sales previously and still works on the commercial product side - this is what's called a Bring Your Own License (BYOL), like all of our cloud vendor integrations.

There isn't bonus commission, preference, pushing folks towards it, etc. it's a typical customer-driven purchase of a license for Posit Workbench that can then be brought to (ie activated in) any supported vendor's environment. If the customer decides to move off of any specific platform, Palantir Foundry included, they can then use the same license they already purchased to install in a traditional on-premise or cloud compute environment.

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@jennybryan Maybe the Posit President would like to update his "boilerplate language" of "we look forward to a long-standing partnership with Palantir." (press release, verbatim) with "We did them a little technical integration as a favour for no money and we'll have a jolly good think about doing that again because we've upset some people".

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Thanks for the insight @tom_rstudio.

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So you think there is another tech company that should be in charge of providing Big Data tools to government? You want Google or Microsoft, who are in bed with Eastern non-democratic governments.. Think about what you are saying and be careful for what you wish for. The fact that Palantir left Silicon Valley for Colorado because the environment was so toxic as to BigTech choosing China over the US government is all I need to know in terms of which company has western democratic morals.