Data-mining firm Palantir invested $25 million in Faraday Future shortly before the electric vehicle startup became a publicly traded company in July, according to a previously unreported Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document filed late last week.
In addition, Faraday Future signed a commercial contract to use Palantir’s software, according to one of Palantir’s most recent SEC filings. Neither company disclosed how much Faraday Future is paying, though Palantir’s filing notes the contract will last between four and six years. Representatives for both companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Palantir says its software is meant to serve as a “central operating system” for companies that need to sift through lots of data. Its customers have included the US Customs and Border Protection agency, which used Palantir software to track immigrants during the Trump administration, as well as police departments around the country, which have used Palantir’s controversial predictive policing software.
Palantir’s investment was part of the so-called Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) portion of the merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that made Faraday Future public. PIPEs are essentially a fundraising round that happens concurrently with many SPAC mergers. Faraday Future raised a total of around $795 million in its PIPE, which included other investors like Geely, China’s largest private automaker.
Palantir’s participation in the PIPE is just the latest in a rash of investments the company has made in startups that are (or were) in the process of merging with SPACs. In some of those instances, Palantir has followed up its investment with a deal to sell its software services to the company in question, as was first reported in July by journalist Eric Newcomer. (One robotics startup, Newcomer reports, is paying Palantir $42 million to use its software, following a $21 million investment from the data-mining company.)
Faraday Future’s electric vehicles are going to create an incredible amount of data — at least, once they’re built. The company’s first vehicle, the FF 91 SUV, isn’t supposed to go into production until at least July 2022, and has been delayed for years as the company struggled. But when it exists, the electric SUV will be dotted with sensors and cameras meant to power an advanced driver assistance system in the near term and one day (perhaps) something closer to full autonomy.
The inside of the FF 91 will be even more of a data-generation machine. There are cameras in every seat capable of performing facial recognition, which will be used to quickly pull up all sorts of preferences for drivers and passengers, like their personalized app and media libraries, favored seating positions and climate settings, and more.