Startups Backed By The CIA

Tiny cameras. Hearing devices for the teeth. Wi-fi for refrigerators. These are some of the products made by companies that have caught the eye of In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.

One of the most recent companies to get an infusion of cash from the U.S. spy bureau’s investment fund is Cleversafe, a Chicago-based startup that offers software to keep data stored in cloud networks secure by slicing it up and storing it in different locations. In a press release issued last month about the investment, William Strecker, In-Q-Tel’s chief technology officer, said the intelligence community is looking for new ways to secure information given the increasing ubiquity of cloud computing.

The country’s only federally funded venture capital firm was created in 1999, during the tech boom, because the private sector was setting the pace in technological innovation, leaving the intelligence community feeling not very intelligent. In-Q-Tel invests in startups developing technologies that could prove useful to the CIA and the national security community. But it knew it had to adjust to the Silicon Valley model to work. "The CIA had to offer Silicon Valley something of value, a business model that the Valley understood; a model that provides those who joined hands with In-Q-Tel the opportunity to commercialize their innovations," CIA official Rick Yannuzzi wrote in a briefing document for theADefense Intelligence Journal in 2001.

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Posted: November 22nd, 2009
at 4:17pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: politricks,entrepreneurship

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