Funded by Spies. The CIA and Silicon Valley are closer than you think, thanks to a VC firm known as In-Q-Tel.
Comments are off
5 Start-Ups Running on CIA Cash via In-Q-Tel
5 Start-Ups Running on CIA Cash
In the wake of the Edward Snowden data dump, the CIA and Silicon Valley have had a rather chilly public relationship. But the two are closer than you might think, with the US intelligence agency investing in some Valley ventures.
One that’s received a lot of attention lately is Palantir. The shadowy, Peter Thiel-founded data-mining operation has hit a few roadblocks lately, according to a recent BuzzFeed profile. The company is reportedly buying up its own stock from employees rather than pursuing an IPO, perhaps because one of its investors is best known for its secrecy: In-Q-Tel.
In-Q-Tel is the arm of the CIA specifically set up to fund “projects of mutual interest to both the CIA and the commercial marketplace.” It’s been around since the late 90s, when the CIA became concerned that it was falling behind in the new digital age. The traditional government procurement process is less flexible than the “move fast and break things” motto of many start-ups, so In-Q-Tel looks to merge venture capital sensibilities with CIA cash.
While the funding flows from the agency to tech companies, the board of trustees is a blend of both, with academics and admirals serving. The mix of apparatchiks and app developers has led to some uneasiness, but In-Q-Tel shows no signs of slowing down. Over the years, it has invested in dozens of start-ups, with several added to its portfolio in the last year alone Check out the slideshow for a rundown of some of these more recent investments, which provides a glimpse into what the CIA views as critical technology in 2016 and beyond.