InfoSec — Case study: In-Q-Tel

What a better time to talk about In-Q-Tel investments than BlackHat/Defcon period ? Great side stories for when you meet someone at the bar of the Mandalay Bay’s lobby!

According to The Real Cyber War and Wikipedia, it is said that the firm is seen as a trend-setter in the information technology industry, with the average dollar invested by In-Q-Tel in 2012 attracting nine dollars of investment from other companies.

For those who are not familiar with In-Q-Tel, it got founded in 1999 by a former Lockheed Martin CEO for the sole purpose of investing in high-tech companies to keep the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other agencies equipped with the latest in information technology in support of United States intelligence capability. This Venture Capital fund is often dubbed as “the CIA investment-arm”.

As far as we can see from the Crunchbase database, In-Q-Tel made a total of 26 investments in security companies including 4 in Recorded Future.

But which one is the most profitable investment that In-Q-Tel did so far ?

Since as mentioned above the main purpose of In-Q-Tel is to make sure the U.S. government stays equipped with the latest technology. One of the question many wonder is it a smart-money-type investment to have the C.I.A. investing in your company and is it a fast track way to get sweet federal government contracts ?

Well, thanks to Anton Tarasenko who gathered government data on Google BigQuery among other tools for mining government data on github, we can access the list of federal contracts that the U.S. government made.

As we can see from his github, he says the available data provides 17years of data, 45M transactions and $6.7Tn worth of goods and services.

Table gpqueries:contracts.raw contains the unmodified data from the USASpending.gov archives. It’s constructed from <year>_All_Contracts_Full_20160515.csv.zip files and includes contracts from 2000 to May 15, 2016.

Using the above list, we can easily retrieve the list of federal contracts received by the companies that In-Q-Tel invested into using the following SQL query:

BigQuery SQL Query

Total retrieved amount of contracts comes down to $ 22,022,422.40 USD.

Biggest receivers

MotionDSP a real-time video enhancement appears #1 with almost $9M of contracts received.

Then comes Alfalight, a laser and electro optical system company in #2 with $7.5

And then in #3 Basis Technology, a AI-based multi-lingual text analytic company with almost $3M of contracts.


Biggest spenders

Department of Defense (#1) is by far the biggest spender with almost $18M, by far in front of the Office of Policy, Management and Budget (#2) and the F.B.I. (#3).