10gen, the sponsor company of the open source NoSQL database MongoDB, today announced undisclosed investment from In-Q-Tel, a non-profit private equity and venture capital firm that invests in technologies deemed beneficial to the U.S. intelligence community. The typical investment from In-Q-Tel is rumored to be between $1 million and $3 million.
The firm was originally chartered by the CIA in 1999, but is an independent organization that cooperates with multiple intelligence agencies, including National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T). According to Forbes, its budget is classified, but The Washington Post reported in 2005 that the firm receives $37 million a year from the CIA.
“The Agency’s leadership recognized that the CIA did not, and could not, compete for IT innovation and talent with the same speed and agility that those in the commercial marketplace, whose businesses are driven by ‘Internet time’ and profit, could,” a Defense Intelligence Journal article from 2000 says. “The Agency had to step outside of itself and appear not just as a buyer of IT but also as a seller. The CIA had to offer Silicon Valley something of value, a business model that the Valley understood; a model that provides those who joined hands with In-Q-Tel the opportunity to commercialize their innovations.”
Besides money, In-Q-Tel provides its investments with “problem sets” from the intelligence community.
10gen was last seen raising a $42 million round led by New Enterprise Associates. Prior to the In-Q-Tel investment the company had raised $73.4 million total.
Unsurprisingly In-Q-Tel has taken an interest in big data technology. Other investments in this space include Cloudera, one of the developers and supporters of Apache Hadoop, and Platfora, a company aiming to make Hadoop easier to use. One of the firm’s most recent investments was in Huddle, an enterprise collaboration company.
Its most famous exit was probably Keyhole, which sold to Google in 2004 and eventually became Google Earth.