When NSA employees leave to start their own companies

Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins founders of Light Point Security and former NSA employees
Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins are co-founders of Light Point Security. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

In October, Ian Duncan, intelligence and military reporter for the Baltimore Sun, interviewed me for a story about former NSA employees that left the Agency to start their own companies. Titled “When NSA employees leave to start their own companies,” the story looks at several Agency entrepreneurs and examines the challenges facing the NSA in retaining the top notch talent they helped to train. It’s an interesting read and I thought it was worth sharing here on the blog. Below is an excerpt from the story.

Adam Fuchs and his small team labored for years inside the National Security Agency on a system that would enable analysts to access vast troves of intelligence data and spot hidden patterns.

“We very much had a startup feel,” Fuchs said. The team worked in an office at Fort Meade with ideas scrawled across whiteboards and old furniture scattered around.

Their work helped analysts identify terrorist groups. But the ordinarily secretive NSA did something else with the technology: Figuring that others could make use of it, too, the agency released it to the world for free.

And that was when those who had built the tool saw an opportunity. Half eventually left the agency to develop it on the outside. Fuchs and others founded a company.

Their departure exemplifies a challenge facing the NSA: The agency spends years training some of the nation’s brightest minds in cutting-edge skills only to watch them take those skills to more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

You can read the full story on the Baltimore Sun’s website here.

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