“In-Q-Tel provides only limited information about its investments, and some of its trustees have ties to funded companies.”
Wall Street Journal – 30 August 2016
August 31 2016 — There is no secret about the CIA — and other US Intelligence agencies — being involved in the early development stages of major projects such as Google Earth and Palantir Technologies through a venture-capital firm it created: IN-Q-Tel . Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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However, according to an analysis of the Wall Street Journal, IN-Q-Tel operates “in the shadow”.
IN-Q-Tel has extremely close ties to the CIA and runs almost all investment decisions by the spy agency. The firm discloses little about how it picks companies to invest in, never says how much, and sometimes doesn’t reveal the investments at all.
The analysis mostly focuses on the potential conflicts of interest the arrangement between the CIA, In-Q-Tel and the companies entails and reach the conclusion that it may not be legal but it is necessary.
Ronald Gilson, a Columbia Law School professor who has written about governance and venture capital, said In-Q-Tel’s unique semigovernmental model puts it in the situation of needing expert advice while trying to avoid overly cozy financial relationships.
“On the one hand, if you wanted really pristine independence, it means you are going to need people who don’t have commercial ties to the industry,” Mr. Gilson said. “On the other hand, if you have people without any commercial ties to the industry, they are not much use.”
Curiously, the WSJ does not address a question their readers care most about: should you invest in these 300+ companies? Or at least, in some of the 234 of them that are known? Let us take on example.
Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in big data analysis. Founded in 2004, Palantir’s original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC). In-Q-Tel funded the projet — right from the start — with $2 million.
In the news lately is a data analysis company called Palantir that is a good bet to go public sometime in 2017. If you want to buy Palantir stock you will have to be patient until the IPO because until then, it is a private company.
Palantir’s approximate $20 billion valuation puts it in near the top of high-profile startups yet to IPO.
In 2017, The Guardian recently published a good piece on Palantir.
In 2004, Peter Thiel – the billionaire PayPal co-founder, Facebook investor and latter-day Trump ally – created Palantir alongside Nathan Gettings, Joe Lonsdale, Stephen Cohen and Alex Karp. Their intention was to create a company that took Big Data somewhere no one else dared to go. In 2013, Karp, Palantir’s CEO, announced that the company would not be pursuing an IPO, as going public would make “running a company like ours very difficult”. This is why.
Palantir watches everything you do and predicts what you will do next in order to stop it. As of 2013, its client list included the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Centre for Disease Control, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Up to 50% of its business is with the public sector. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, was an early investor.
Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects to corporate fraudsters (Bernie Madoff was imprisoned with the help of Palantir), child traffickers and what they refer to as “subversives”. But it is all done using prediction. (…)
Palantir is immensely secretive. It wields as much real-world power as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, but unlike them, Palantir operates so far under the radar, it is special ops.
A Great Investment?
Obviously, the firm seems to do extremely well. But then again, things may not be as they seem.
A recent story from BuzzFeed attempts to raise doubt that Palantir is doing as well as some had thought.
Perhaps, you should not trust every news reported by BuzzFeed.
However, in this case, there seems to be some reasons for concern…
Citing interviews with former employees and confidential documents, the story says that the company is losing some big clients (Coke, Nasdaq, and Amex) as well as some key employees.
If true, this is something largely unknown up until now as Palantir is notoriously secretive in the information it releases.
Co-Founder Joe Lonsdale writes that the BuzzFeed piece cherry picks some of its facts and reports them out of context. He maintains that in any business, both good clients and good employees will be lost for a variety of reasons which is the case here.
As they say:
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
CIA & Google Secretly Invests MILLIONS In Tech Companies – IN-Q-TEL
In this video we see an interview with Noah Shachtman from WIRED, who talks about the CIA’s secret investment arm, named IN-Q-TEL.
IN-Q-TEL was set up in 1999 and has invested in several tech companies for both profit and access to the technology before anyone else (meaning backdoors are beyond inevitable).
The CIA have also gone into joint ventures with Google, most recently in “Recorded Future” which is a company that strips out from web pages, data about who is going to where and linking all the data together.
Keyhole was another company that IN-Q-TEL invested in that eventually got acquired by Google and became the basis for Google Earth.
INQTEL has invested in Nokia, Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook, IBM, Google, RIM, Greylock partners, Visible and many others.
Some of this technology allows for agencies to easily shift through tweets, Facebook status and blog posts.
The CIA’s Venture-Capital Firm, Like Its Sponsor, Operates in the Shadows — WSJ August 30 2016
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