Four Months Later, In-Q-Tel Again Needs New CEO

Amit Yoran, former head of cybersecurity for the Homeland Security Department, says he wants to spend more time with his family.
Amit Yoran, former head of cybersecurity for the Homeland Security Department, says he wants to spend more time with his family. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

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By Terence O'Hara
Monday, April 24, 2006

Amit Yoran resigned over the weekend as chief executive of In-Q-Tel , the venture capital arm of the U.S. spy community, after less than four months on the job.

Yoran, a seasoned technology entrepreneur and investor as well as a former head of cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security, had led In-Q-Tel since January. He said yesterday that his reasons for leaving were entirely personal, including a desire to spend less time on the road and more with his family. He and his wife have three young children. In-Q-Tel has investments all over the country, and Yoran has traveled extensively. Considered a success inside the Central Intelligence Agency, which created it, In-Q-Tel's mandate has been expanding to find more technology for more spy agencies.

"It's a very amicable parting," said Yoran, 35. "I will say I'm sorry and disappointed as well. But these are personal issues. . . . My continued performance as CEO was not going to be possible."

Yoran said he will continue to work with In-Q-Tel as a part-time consultant. Before taking the chief executive job four months ago, Yoran had invested money in several private technology companies. He continues to serve on several company boards.

Lee A. Ault III , chairman of In-Q-Tel's board of trustees, said he accepted Yoran's resignation "with regret."

"In-Q-Tel has benefited from Amit's vision and leadership during his tenure as CEO," Ault said in a statement. "We appreciate his service to In-Q-Tel, and we look forward to continuing In-Q-Tel's unique and important mission of delivering important and cutting edge technologies to the CIA and the intelligence community."

In-Q-Tel calls itself a venture capital firm, but venture investing is a small part of what it does. The CIA created the organization as a nonprofit, and its job was to identify technologies being funded and developed by the private sector that could have value in intelligence-gathering or national security applications. In-Q-Tel makes small investments in start-up companies, almost always as a junior partner to traditional venture capital funds. Most of In-Q-Tel's money goes toward evaluating and funding the technology to make sure the CIA or other intelligence agencies can use it.

Yoran had begun to ramp up In-Q-Tel's investment activity to meet its growing budget and responsibilities. He said the organization has an annual budget of more than $50 million -- up from $30 million to $35 million several years ago -- and includes as "investors" several other intelligence and homeland security agencies in addition to the CIA. In its early years, In-Q-Tel was funded almost entirely by the CIA. All of In-Q-Tel's contacts with the intelligence community, no matter the agency, still run through a special office inside the CIA.

Last month, Yoran hired his old friend, Mark Frantz , a well-known local venture capitalist who spent the past five years with the Carlyle Venture Partners , as In-Q-Tel's managing general partner. Frantz in an interview last week said the organization would be hiring more people for its investing team.

"We're not exactly taking out help-wanted ads, but we want to add to our venture team," Frantz said. "We've got some very talented folks here, but we're here to turn it up a notch. "

Yoran took over from founding chief executive Gilman Louie , who ran In-Q-Tel since its 1999 inception. The board is expected to appoint an interim chief executive this week and begin a national search for Yoran's replacement.

Yoran said 120 technologies partly funded by In-Q-Tel have been deployed by the CIA or other agencies. "Unfortunately, we can't talk about the specific uses," he said.


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