The CIA venture capital firm

Normally, the headlines surrounding how the encrypted messaging platform Wickr got over $ 1.6 million in funding wouldn’t be something we would take note of, let alone cover in an editorial sense. Wickr’s funding source, however, is gaining more attention from several publications, not just BH. You see, the public disclosure records reviewed by Motherboard states that Wickr is funded by a nonprofit investment firm called In-Q-Tel – otherwise known as a venture capital firm created by the Central Intelligence Agency to “support US intelligence capabilities” and ” provide advanced technologies that meet national security needs. ”

Record the moment of scratching. Since when does the CIA have an entire branch dedicated to the distribution of seed capital? More importantly, how does it work? As it happens, In-Q-Tel – formerly known as Peleus before changing its name with a direct reference to James Bond’s own quartermaster (yes … really) – was founded by the former director of CIA George Tenet, former Lockheed CEO Martin Norm Augustine and veteran venture capitalist Gilman Louie in 1999.

And while the idea of ​​a CIA venture capital firm immediately blows our neurons with punchlines about “investing” rocket launchers into the brave Mujahedin fighters of Afghanistan, to cede ████ █████ ███ ████, not only is there some degree of separation – In-Q-Tel involves non-combative R&D pathways (as far as we have been told ); and is in fact regarded by the industry as a forerunner in the field of information technology. Apparently, the average dollar invested by In-Q-Tel in 2016 attracted $ 15 from third-party investors.

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“While we are paying the bills, In-Q-Tel is independent from the CIA,” says George Tenet.

“The CIA identifies pressing problems and In-Q-Tel provides the technology to solve them. The In-Q-Tel alliance has brought the Agency back to the cutting edge of technology.

“This collaboration allowed the CIA to take advantage of the technology used by Las Vegas to identify corrupt card players and apply it to link analysis for terrorists … and adapt the technology used by bookstores online and convert it to browse millions of pages of documents looking for unexpected results.

You would be surprised at the overlap between espionage and civilian applications when it comes to technology that is firmly in In-Q-Tel’s attention. For example, in the early 2000s, the venture capital arm of the CIA decided to fund a satellite mapping software operation known as Keyhole, Inc. This same operation would later be acquired by Google and renamed Google. Earth. On November 15, 2005, In-Q-Tel sold the 5,636 Google shares received as part of this acquisition for more than $ 2.2 million.

Although everything works partially in public, the products owned by In-Q-Tel and the way in which they are used are strictly confidential; although it’s painfully obvious that the primary focus is data processing, communication, and just about anything that you can tap into to focus on the exact location of a person of interest. According to The Washington Post, “Virtually any American entrepreneur, inventor, or researcher working on ways to analyze data has likely received a phone call from In-Q-Tel or at least been Googled by its team of tech watchers. “

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“There’s GitLab, the software development platform that is planning a $ 10 billion IPO later this year,” says Kevin T. Dugan of Fortune.

“There’s Palantir, Peter Thiel’s analytics firm, cybersecurity giant FireEye, cloud firm Cockroach Labs, and Internet of Things firm Swam Technologies. ”

“The CIA-backed company doesn’t list all of its investments – Wickr isn’t on the site, for what it’s worth – and doesn’t say whether it still has a stake, but it’s still a long list. “

At the end of 2020, In-Q-Tel had US $ 625 million (AU $ 850.9 million) in assets. Here’s a list of some of In-Q-Tel’s investments below – and you can check out (most of) its current portfolio here.


  • MemSQL – distributed, in-memory SQL database management system for real-time analysis
  • Keyhole, Inc – geospatial visualization application (acquired by Google in 2004 and would become Google Earth in 2005)
  • Boundless Spatial – geospatial software
  • Huddle – cloud-based content collaboration software
  • Oculis Labs – visual cybersecurity solutions
  • Destineer – training simulation for FPS games
  • GeoIQ FortiusOne – visualization on maps
  • Forterra – virtual worlds for training
  • Quantum4D – visualization technology
  • Visual sciences – real-time visual analysis
  • Spotfire – visualization data analysis
  • Algorithmics – infrastructure for deploying and scaling AI / ML models
  • Palantir Technologies – data integration, search and discovery, knowledge management and secure collaboration
  • PiXlogic – visual search
  • Agent Logic – event detection and response software – Webspector web page modification software
  • ArcSight – secure software
  • Zaplet – e-mail
  • Authentica – secure messaging and secure document sharing
  • Teradici Corporation – desktop virtualization
  • Connectify – Wifi & VPN
  • SafeWeb PrivacyMatrix – navigation
  • Visible technologies – social media watch
  • Silver Tail Systems – Website Fraud Prevention
  • InnoCentive – crowdsourcing sites
  • Fetch Technologies – Internet data management (bots and RSS)
  • SRA OrionMagic – CMS Software
  • Recorded Future – Web intelligence and predictive analysis
  • Traction software – Web 2.0
  • Internet Evidence Finder – digital forensic tool
  • Core technology – multilingual text analysis and cybercrime
  • Language Weaver – automatic language translation
  • Lingotek – translation services
  • Cassatt – desktop software
  • Tacite Knowledge Systems – internal software
  • FMS – analysis, visualization and knowledge base for the Federal Intelligence Community
  • Initiate Systems – real-time multiple database software
  • TerraGo – GeoPDF geolocation software and applications
  • Geosemble – unstructured data analysis and geospatial software
  • NovoDynamics – Recognition of Arabic characters
  • ADApx – Microsoft Office and GIS
  • Numerical reasoning – Synthesys v3.0 – examine facts and associations at a glance
  • CallMiner – telephone speech analysis software
  • Carnegie Speech – speech recognition
  • AzTE]PRISM – handwriting recognition
  • A4Vision – 3D facial imaging
  • SRD – identity resolution software
  • Inktomi Corp – network infrastructure software
  • Mohomine mohoClassifier – organize mass data
  • Stratify – organize bulk data
  • Endeca – find data repositories
  • Inxight – search engine
  • Convera RetrievalWare – search engine
  • MetaCarta – search engine
  • Intensity – search engine
  • Platfora – big data analysis and visualization
  • Intelliseek – search engine
  • FireEye – malware protection
  • ReversingLabs – malware detection and analysis
  • zSpace (company) – 3D holographic imaging screens
  • Socrata – Open data solutions for government innovation
  • Interset – Security Analysis / User Behavior Analysis
  • Nozomi Networks – OT & IoT Security and Visibility
  • D2iQ (formerly Mesosphere) – Apache Mesos & Kubernetes consulting firm
  • Fuel3D – 3D scanning
  • TRX Systems – 3D Mapping

Material science


  • Biomatrica – biolab tech anhydrobiosis storage
  • SpectraFluidics – detection of traces of airborne chemicals
  • Arcxis Biotechnologies – sample processing and pathogen detection
  • febit group – DNA
  • Boreal genomics – Genetic fingerprints
  • T2 Biosystems – medical diagnostic devices, miniaturized magnetic resonance (MR)
  • OpGen – microbial genome analysis
  • Infobionics – biotechnology cellular database
  • Microchip Biotechnologies – analytical instrumentation for biodefense
  • Cambrios Technologies – biomaterials for semiconductor electronics
  • Seahawk Biosystems – diagnostic biosensor products
  • Sionex – chemical and biological sensors
  • Polychromix – materials analysis and chemical detection
  • IatroQuest – detect biological and chemical agents
  • IntegenX – NanoBioProcessor & molecular diagnostics
  • Seventh Sense Biosystems – health monitoring and medical diagnostics
  • Sonitus Medical – transmits sound through the teeth
  • MedShape – braces made from shape memory materials


  • Electro Energy – nickel-metal hydride batteries for satellites and airplanes
  • Qynergy Corporation – long life batteries, micro-electro-mechanical systems
  • Infinite Power Solutions – micro-batteries
  • Skybuilt Power – solar, wind, fuel cells, batteries, fossil fuels, telecommunications (Mobile Power Station 3.5 kW to 150 kW)
  • Semprius – solar energy
  • AdaptivEnergy – miniature piezo generators
  • Power Assure – management of power consumption
  • MiserWare – reduces energy





  • Xanadu Quantum Technologies – photonic quantum computers
  • Tyfone[22] – digital security for mobility, cloud and IoT
  • Genia Photonics – fiber optic products
  • Advanced Photonix, Inc. – optical fiber
  • SitScape – Command and control room hardware
  • SpotterRF – micro surveillance radar
  • QD Vision – monitors, displays and lighting
  • GATR Technologies – inflatable satellite dishes
  • CoreStreet – door access control systems
  • Redlen Technologies – X-ray and gamma CZT detectors
  • Etherstack – radios
  • Paratek microwave – smart scanning antennas
  • D-Wave systems – quantum computers

Sensor networks

  • ThingMagic – RFID
  • Dust Networks – low power wireless mesh network systems
  • Ember Corporation – ZigBee – wireless semiconductor
  • Gainspan – Low consumption Wi-Fi
  • Tendril Networks – software for wireless sensor and control networks
  • TenXsys – telemetry systems for remote monitoring, NASA
  • StreamBase – real-time data in government / military networks, RFID / sensors
  • Thetus – software for remote sensing instruments
  • Soflinx Defender – Wireless sensor network for fences
  • PlateScan – Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) Sensor Network

Data centers

  • Bay Microsystems – packet processing and data traffic
  • Cleversafe – Data storage clouds and massive digital archives
  • Cloudera – data storage and analysis
  • Asankya – hypermesh data stream
  • CopperEye – data retention
  • Systems research and development – real-time data warehousing
  • Network Appliance – Decru (network data storage)

Security tests

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Steven L. Nielsen

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