“On Monday, federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.””
They weren’t particularly good spies, apparently. They were directed to gather information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, C.I.A. leadership, Congressional politics and many other topics. But at least two of them chose to pursue these goals by working at tech startups.
But statistics don’t lie. Based on recent espionage data we’ve rigorously gathered (from the NYTimes article), fully 18% of all Russian spies also work at tech startups. Amazing.
It seems mathematically improbable to say the least that two of the people accused of being Russian spies are in our relatively small tech community. One is Anna Chapman, who was recently pitching her startup NYCRentals.com to just about anyone who’d listen.
The other spy (lol) who is also a tech startup employee is Tracey Foley:
In Cambridge, Mass., the couple known as Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley, who appeared to be in their 40s and had two teenage sons, lived in an apartment building on a residential street where some Harvard professors and students live.
“She was very courteous; she was very nice,” Montse Monne-Corbero, who lives next door, said of Ms. Foley. The sons shoveled snow for her in the winter, Ms. Monne-Corbero said, but they also had “very loud” parties.
When Foley wasn’t throwing those very loud parties, Foley pursued her spy career by working as a field agent for Seattle-based Redfin, a real estate startup we’ve covered often. Foley’s job consisted of showing people houses for sale when a lead agent was taking a long lunch or something.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman sort of argues that his customers deserved to know the truth in a blog post he wrote disclosing Foley’s employment with the company: “since she has been accused of a grave crime, we have disclosed the facts of our relationship with Ms. Foley here.”
But what Kelman is really saying, of course, is “HFS, how cool is it that one of those spies worked for us! Redfin FTW!” I mean it’s not like he now has to worry about thinking up interesting anecdotes at cocktail parties for the next twelve months at least. He’s all set.
I just wish someone at TechCrunch – me for instance – was actually secretly a deep cover spy. Blogger by day, but at night I throw on a tuxedo and zip off to North Korea in a stealth jet to kick some serious communist butt. And then get the girl(s) and take off in the rogue nuclear submarine I just stole. My God, the links we’d get once I was finally arrested would be worth millions. And the book and movie deals…priceless.
err, sorry, back to my point. Which I do have one I think. And it’s basically this: WTF?