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.

inqtel splash

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:

Year Company Comment
2000 ORIONMagic SRA International
2000 Traction Software
2001 Decru Acquired by Network Appliance
2001 Kofax Inc.
2001 MetricStream
2001 SRD Acquired by IBM
2001 Stratify Acquired by Iron Mountain
2001 Tacit Software
2002 Agent Logic
2002 ArcSight
2002 Attensity
2002 MetaCarta Inc.
2002 Qynergy
2002 Rosum
2003 Bay Microsystems
2003 Dust Networks
2003 Endeca
2003 Inxight Software Owned by SAP Gmbh
2003 Keyhole Inc. Acquired by Google
2003 Language Weaver
2003 Nanosys
2003 NovoDynamics
2003 piXlogic

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


4 Responses to “Government High-Tech Investments: IN-Q-TEL”

  1. sperky undernet on May 26th, 2008 10:12 am

    Using archive over the 2000-2003 period, the following additional names come up:

    * Polexis Inc. Nov. 2000. Recently awarded a contract by the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) in the field of Geo-Hyperlinks. The OGC solicited technology proposals for the OGC Geospatial Fusion Services (GFS) Testbed. OGC, in collaboration with In-Q-Tel, are working together to jointly sponsor GFS projects.

    * IntelliSeek . Initial investment was in 2001. Related to Enterprise Search Server (ESS) platform’s foreign language capabilities and upgraded analysis and categorization. June 2003 partnership between IntelliSeek and Unisys Corp. – Global Public Sector to provide government agencies the ability to “search, aggregate, categorize, monitor and track content from thousands of disparate sources to deliver real- time actionable intelligence.”

    An innocent question is how could these be publicized on PR Newswire – nominally it has to be assumed with permission – and not be included within the list in your article? Is the reason oversight or retrospective censorship regarding work in what either became more delicate over time or what became white elephants.

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on May 26th, 2008 9:47 pm

    Sperky, thanks for your comments. We used open sources for our list. Watch for the next installment this week. Your questions are good ones, and I look forward to other readers providing additional details and links to any IN-Q-TEL “babies” that I missed.
    Stephen Arnold, May 26, 2008

  3. IN-Q-TEL Investments: 2004-2005 : Beyond Search on May 31st, 2008 7:47 am

    […] and links of IN-Q-TEL’s investments up to 2002. If you want to review this information, click here. In this essay, I want to provide the list of companies receiving funding in the two year period […]

  4. IN-Q-TEL Investments: 2006 to April 2008 : Beyond Search on June 1st, 2008 10:38 am

    […] of IN-Q-TEL investments through April 2008. You can access the investments from 2000 to 2003 here. The investments from 2004 and 2005 are […]

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