The CIA has formed a venture capital arm, In-Q-It and set aside $28 million to invest in hi tech companies that could give it the edge in new technology.
The agency has tapped a 'non-spy' Gilman Louie, a Silicon Valley insider who sold his computer games company Microprose to Hasbros, to run the new company. He said In-Q-It is on the lookout for technologies that could benefit the CIA and will either invest in companies or form joint ventures.
Louis said that the CIA was like every other large organisation in the world struggling to keep up with technological changes and it can no longer procure technology from just a handful of specialist companies.
Unlike much of the CIA's work In-Q-It will need to develop a high profile since there are literally billions of dollars waiting to be invested in good ideas in Silicon Valley.
In-Q-It not only joins a cadre of professional investment company but it will also have to compete with major technology companies, which in recent years have seen the advantage of pouring seed money into startups to gain access to technologies.
The aim of In-Q-It is to be self-funding, while the agency would have first call on any technologies that it also hopes to sell in the commercial world.
The unit's name mixes IT with James Bond. 'In' stands for intelligence; "It" for information technology; and "Q" after the codename of the Bond character, Major Boothroyd.
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