Name: Content Analyst Co.
Robert Liscouski is president and chief executive of Content Analyst.
Funding: Company has raised about $7 million from the private equity firm Content Investors of Minneapolis and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego.
Big idea: Content Analyst acquired the rights to a text analytics tool from SAIC and has continued its development. The tool, originally developed from patents held by Bell Labs, automates the analysis of unstructured information in databases. Robert P. Liscouski, president and chief executive, said he is concentrating on targeting commercial markets, including opinion and market research, online essay scoring, and content aggregation. “Our core technology is latent semantic indexing,” Liscouski said. “Its a technique that allows us to identify relationships between words so we can come up with meanings for terms that would ordinarily have to be predefined.”
How it works: The tool is inserted into the work flow that controls data streams coming into an organization. It examines new data and puts it into categories, Liscouski said. It’s multilingual so a user is not required to set up a thesaurus or a dictionary or translate the query or the data being examined. The system uses algorithms to identify relevant information automatically and is able to pick out information of emerging importance.
“It’s driven by the data that you give it,” said Lois Dickey, chief operating officer. “Most tools require that there be a taxonomy [a system of classification] generated by subject matter experts. It’s driven by the data itself, which is a huge labor savings.”
Example of use: The tool can be used by the intelligence and homeland security communities and by civilian agencies, systems integrators, and the commercial market. “Government work is where we have market space, but our real growth area is commercial work,” Liscouski said.
Big-name customer: Ebsco Publishing; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, a division of Harcourt Classroom Education Co.; SAIC; the National Science Foundation; the Education Department; and In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital operation.
These are the people that are collecting and sifting the logfiles created by other programs such as Webtrends, the private company owned by the Francisco Partners that use the intelligent pixel form on the NSA sight.
The CIA Venture arm isn’t anything new. They announced it in 1999.
The enterprise was started in 1999 as a way for the government to tap into Silicon Valley’s tech boom. At the time, businesses were spending millions on new technologies, and startups neither knew how nor particularly cared to deal with the Defense Dept. or intelligence agencies.
BUSY MIDDLEMAN. The CIA wanted to change this and get a window into what engineers were doing. The agency figured the best way to do that was by flashing a little cash. Then the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, put In-Q-Tel’s mission on the front burner for folks both in the Valley and Washington, D.C. The outfit was flooded with business plans, and its budget and staff increased dramatically — a necessary step.
On the government side, the lack of communication among various intelligence divisions was painfully obvious, and new technology was needed to solve that. On the startup side, few knew how to deal with the feds. In-Q-Tel was the middleman. “Our deal flow went up by a factor of five,” Louie says.
In just six years, the Arlington (Va.) venture, which also has offices in Menlo Park, Calif., has invested in 77 transactions. Last year, it completed a deal about every other week, each ranging in size from $500,000 to $3 million. By comparison, a typical venture-capital firm does about a dozen deals a year. Many of the startups credit In-Q-Tel for helping them get a foothold in the federal world. “It’s hard to be an 18-person organization and have government entities see you as useful,” says Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at Analytic Solutions, which IBM (IBM ) acquired in January, 2005.
CLOSER SCRUTINY. Jonas’ company makes software that helps organizations ferret out corrupt people — a natural fit for the government, Jonas thought. But he wasn’t able to get any traction until In-Q-Tel decided to invest in Analytic Solutions five years ago. After the deal, some 70% of his business was in government contracts — which helped attract Big Blue’s eye.
As In-Q-Tel’s investments grow, so does public scrutiny. The venture is always walking a fine line between the public and private sector. Set up as a nonprofit, it invests taxpayer money with all decisions about where to reinvest being made by an independent board of trustees. All of the proceeds go back to In-Q-Tel to fund new companies, but not a dollar moves before copious reports are filed.
Compensating the CIA’s dealmakers is a trickier issue. Typically venture capitalists get a salary and a hefty stake in the returns from companies they fund. To be competitive, In-Q-Tel had to do something similar. And, Louie says, having some skin in the game keeps staffers motivated to do the best deals. So from 20% to 40% of an employee’s salary goes into a mandatory fund. For every $3 invested in a company, $1 from an employee fund is also invested.
Don’t you feel better knowing that personal information sharing is a profit-making arm of our intelligence departments? Everyone involved in those industries has a financial stake in collecting as many obscure details about our lives as possible and showing the need for it by producing results in threat prevention, whether it’s genuine or not.
As with the NSA cookie crumbling, it’s not the danger to privacy that other techniques are.
NetIQ Expands Web Analytics Reporting Offerings with WebTrends Reporting Center
WebTrends Reporting Center improves and extends the features of WebTrends’ flagship reporting product and includes three new editions–the eBusiness Edition, the Enterprise Edition and the Service Provider Edition–designed to deliver the features and functionality required for customers that range from mid-market businesses to large enterprises and service providers. NetIQ also released today the WebTrends Data Collection Server, providing organizations with client-side data collection for the most accurate and complete view of visitor behavior across geographical areas or multiple domains. NetIQ also made available Data Conduits for Content Management Systems for WebTrends Reporting Center, which integrate web visitor behavioral data with content management systems.
Here is why this is important. The following is a sample TOS of an average site.
Cookies; Pixel Tags
Pharmavite reserves the right at any time to collect anonymous, non-personal information about your use of this site through the use of “cookies” and pixel tags.
“Cookies” are pieces of information that a Web site sends to your computer and puts on your computer’s hard drive while you are viewing the Web site. “Cookies” allow us to know how often someone visits our site and the activities they conduct while on our site (such as the places you visited, etc.). “Cookies” can also be used to store personal preferences for your convenience and to track user trends and patterns. The information collected by “cookies” can help us better understand and improve areas of this site and our products that our users find valuable.
Cookies alone do not tell us your e-mail address or other personally identifiable information. However, once you choose to provide us with personally identifiable information, such information may be linked to the data stored in the “cookie.”
Your browser software can be set to reject all “cookies” or to warn you each time a cookie is being sent. You do this through your browser (like Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer) settings. Each browser is a little different, so look at your browser’s Help menu to learn the correct way to reject “cookies” or receive warnings about “cookies.” If you reject our “cookies,” certain of the functions and conveniences of our site may not work properly, but you do not have to accept our “cookies” to productively use our site.
In addition, visitors to our site who have received a targeted promotional campaign from Pharmavite or its third party advertising company, may have some of the pages they visit on our site noted by us or by such company through the use of pixel tags (also called clear “gifs”). The information collected in this way may be associated with personally identifiable information. The information collected by pixel tags is used for the purpose of targeting future campaigns and upgrading visitor information used in reporting statistics.
…and then this
An official with the contractor, WebTrends Inc., said later Thursday, however, that although a cookie may be used, no data from it is actually sent back to the company.
The development came a day after the National Security Agency admitted it had erred in using banned “cookies” at its Web site. Cookies are small data files that can be used to track Internet users. The acknowledgments followed inquiries by The Associated Press.
The White House’s Web site uses what’s known as a Web bug to anonymously keep track of who’s visiting and when. A Web bug is essentially a tiny graphic image – a dot, really – that’s virtually invisible. In this case, the bug is pulled from a server maintained by WebTrends and lets the traffic analytic company know that another person has visited a specific page on the site.
Web bugs themselves are not prohibited.
U.S. to probe contractor’s Web tracking
For the most part nobody is lying but they are all collectively avoiding the truth. No data has to forwarded when another company can access all of the information and more that is stored in logfiles created.
Impeach BushCo but take another look at all claimed convictions in the GWoT.
Impeach BushCo for improper domestic surveillance but be prepared to face more insidious truths that likely are legal but immoral.