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Who Is Alex Karp And Why Was He Given A Seat At Trump's Tech Summit Table?

Who Is Alex Karp And Why Was He Given A Seat At Trump's Tech Summit Table?

President-elect Donald Trump hosted some of the top technology leaders for a summit, and the guest list was a typical "who's who" of Silicon Valley with one exception.

Names such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL)'s CEO Tim Cook,, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN)'s CEO Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s chairman Eric Schmidt and Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA)'s CEO Elon Musk were among the most visible. There was, however, one name many investors may not be familiar with: Alex Karp.

Karp runs a private Silicon Valley company called Palantir Technologies, is a software developer who received backing from the CIA's venture capital arm and has held contracts with other government agencies.

Coincident or not, the relatively unknown company was co-founded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley investor, Trump supporter and member of his transition team.

As noted by CNBC, every company that took part in Trump's tech summit was valued at more than $100 billion with the exception of Tesla and Palantir which is valued at just $20 billion.

"I don't like the way it looks having Karp in that room," Norman Eisen, a former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic who worked on President Barack Obama's ethics initiatives told CNBC. "Even if it had a much larger market cap or if he were a much bigger personality, it still looks as if [Thiel] is using the transition for personal advancement."

On the other hand, the argument can also be made that Silicon Valley is small enough for these types of connections to occur at many companies. For example, Thiel was an early backer in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) and the social media empire sent its chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg to represent the company at the meeting.


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