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Palantir CEO doesn't care if you like his company

Losing customers in the private sector is no big deal. That's just one of the tech business heresies delivered by Alex Karp during the WSJD conference.

Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of Palantir
Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of Palantir
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Alex Karp didn't do much to alter his image as an unconventional tech entrepreneur when he spoke at The Wall Street Journal's WSJD conference Wednesday.

The chief executive of data analytics company Palantir started by doing Tai Chi backstage.

Next, he told the crowd he doesn't care about losing customers in the private sector and that he hasn't been a fan of the idea of taking Palantir public. Then he talked openly about a discrimination lawsuit against the company.

In response to reports that Palantir was losing clients in the private sector, Karp offered a saucy metaphor.

"We date heavily before we marry," he said, indicating he's fine with it when things don't work out with a customer.

"We can't work with every company," he said.

Palantir mines and visualizes data for private industry and government agencies, counting the CIA among its original investors. Its only public contract with a government agency, with the Navy Seals, is worth $222 million. Having raised $2 billion in funding and received a valuation of $20 million, will Palantir go public? Karp said he's long been against it, so much so that he tried to slow down Palantir's march toward profitability.

"We're now in the position with the company so that we could go public," Karp acknowledged. "I'm not saying we will go public, but it's a possibility." The other option? Redistribute profits to Palantir's employees.

While he's considering the company's next steps, his legal team is facing a lawsuit claiming the company discriminates against Asian job applicants. Regarding the suit, Karp waded into treacherous waters Wednesday by saying, "I'll comment."

His team has a substantial number of Asian developers, and a quarter of the company's employees are Asian, Karp said.

But he put his foot down after a follow-up question, saying, "I'm already going to be slaughtered by my lawyers [for] what I already said."

CNET's Dara Kerr contributed to this report.