Interesting article appeared in Sunday's Parade Magazinehttp://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/the-cias-secret-investments.html
The CIA's Secret Investments
For a decade, the CIA has been quietly investing millions of dollars in more than 100 start-up firms to gain access to technologies that could become the next generation of spy gear. In a bid to infiltrate the start-up world, the CIA created In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit investment firm to fund young technologies, in 1999.
“Our mission is to find the best technology out there in the world of start-ups, so we can deliver specific, targeted solutions to the intelligence community,” says Donald Tighe, vice president of external affairs for In-Q-Tel. What those solutions might be, of course, is secret.
“Venture capitalists are very secretive, and the CIA is very secretive, so this is like secretive squared,” says Bernard Golden, the technology strategist and former venture capitalist who helped set up In-Q-Tel.
But while the projects are top-secret, the technologies behind them have ended up in products like an advanced handheld medical diagnostic tool, software used to nab casino cheats in Las Vegas, and the mapping software Google Earth.
In-Q-Tel investments are usually less than $3 million at a time, and all profits are re-
invested. Tighe says the firm’s budget is a strategic investment in America’s future security. And that investment continues at a record pace, even as venture capital from the private sector is dwindling. Says Tighe: “Our phone is ringing more now than ever.”
— J. Scott Orr