Government High-Tech Investments: IN-Q-TEL
May 26, 2008
I received an email from a colleague new to the Federal sector. Her email included comments and links about US government funding of high technology companies. I was surprised because I assumed that most people knew of the IN-Q-TEL organization. As US government urls go, IN-Q-TEL’s will baffle some people. First, the hyphens throw off some folks. Then the group’s use of the Dot Org domain is another.
In a nutshell, IN-Q-TEL makes clear what it does and why:
IN-Q-TEL identifies, adapts, and delivers innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US intelligence community.
I’m not interested in whether IN-Q-TEL is doing a great job or a lousy job. I’m not concerned about its mission, its funding, or its management team.
What I find fascinating is the organization’s choice of companies in which to invest. I don’t know the budget range of IN-Q-TEL, but my sources tell me that the investments stick close to $1 million, sometimes more, sometimes less. You can read more about IN-Q-TEL at these links:
- The Wikipedia entry, and I am not vouching for the accuracy of this entry
- The CIA’s own description here
- KMWorld’s write up here. (I am a paid columnist for KMWorld, but I did not contribute to this story.)
The purpose of this feature is to provide a snapshot of the companies in which IN-Q-TEL has invested. I’ve identified more than 70 companies. This is too many to put in one posting, so I will break up the list and cover the period 2000 to 2003 here and do each subsequent year in additional Beyond Search postings.
In the period from 2000 to 2003, IN-Q-TEL invested in 25 companies. Keep in mind that I may have overlooked some in my research. If you know of a company I missed, please, use the comment section of this Web log to update my information. These appear in the table below:
|2001||Decru||Acquired by Network Appliance|
|2001||SRD||Acquired by IBM|
|2001||Stratify||Acquired by Iron Mountain|
|2003||Inxight Software||Owned by SAP Gmbh|
|2003||Keyhole Inc.||Acquired by Google|
In this list, three of the companies were acquired by larger, well-established companies; namely, Decru by Network Appliance, SRD by IBM, Inxight first by Business Objects and then by SAP, and Keyhole Inc. by Google. The ORIONMagic investment was not really a start up because this entity was affiliated with SRA International, a services firm with a presence in the US government.
What I find interesting is that IN-Q-TEL jumped on the social information bandwagon and maybe got it moving with its support of Tacit Software. IN-Q-TEL has also had an interest in information-centric organizations; for example, Kofax (document capture and content processing), Stratify (content processing), Attensity (content processing), MetaCarta (information visualization), Endeca (search and content processing), Inxight (content processing), Keyhole (geospatial), Language Weaver (automated translation), NovoDynamics (content processing), and pixLogic (visual search).
As you explore what these companies do, it becomes evident that IN-Q-TEL is focused on information, management, and nanotechnology in this time period. The other point that jumps out at me is that getting an IN-Q-TEL cash injection has helped the recipient gain greater visibility. In a handful of cases, the IN-Q-TEL seal of approval may have increased the appetite of larger companies for certain technologies.
I will tackle IN-Q-TEL’s investments in 2005 in a subsequent post.
Stephen Arnold, May 26, 2008