20VC: Palantir CTO on The Broken Incentive Structure of How Governments Buy Defence, The Danger of Defence Spending at Historic Lows, How Elections and Wars Change Government Defence Buying & Why Budgets are Anti-Creative with Shyam Sankar

Posted on 17th January 2024 by Harry

Shyam Sankar is Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Palantir Technologies in addition to the Chairman of Ginkgo Bioworks. Shyam holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University and a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

In Today’s Episode with Shyam Sankar:

1. Journey to the Top of Defence:

  • How did Shyam make his way into the world of startups and get a role with Kevin Hartz at Xoom?
  • How did seeing Shyam’s parents lose everything impact his mindset and drive?
  • What does Shyam know now that he wishes he had known when he started his career?

2. How the World’s Governments Buy Defence:

  • What is the playbook for selling defence to different governments?
  • Why is the way that governments purchase and procure so broken?
  • If Shyam were head of the DOD, what would he change?
  • Why does the DOD “need to pick winners”?
  • Which governments are the best to work with? Which are the worst?

3. A World In Conflict: What Changes:

  • How does conflict change the buying process and urgency for governments?
  • How do elections change the buying cadence and process for different governments?
  • Looking forward to 2024, how does Shyam predict the state of different global conflicts?

4. Hiring 101: You Have To Hire Artists:

  • What have been Shyam’s single biggest lessons on what it takes to hire the best of the best?
  • Why does Shyam believe that hiring great people is like talent management in Hollywood?
  • Why does Shyam believe talent should be “shielded from budgets”?
  • What have been some of Shyam’s biggest hiring mistakes? How did he learn from them?

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