NSA Veterans’ Start-Up Offers Secure Data Mining

Michael B. Farrell | The Boston Globe | November 4, 2013

For this firm, spying uproar a plus

The National Security Agency’s digital snooping may have inflamed a national debate over privacy, but it has been a godsend for a tiny start-up in Cambridge. 

The company, Sqrrl Data Inc., was founded by six former employees of the spy agency. They had helped build the massive database the NSA uses to store and analyze the billions of bits of information it gathers on Americans and people around the world. Sqrrl (pronounced “squirrel”) had planned to release a new commercial version of the NSA database, called Accumulo, in mid-June, timed to a prominent technology conference that would be full of potential customers.

But just before the launch, Edward Snowden dropped the bomb on the NSA.

The Sqrrl guys and their financial backers were swiftly besieged with calls from reporters asking if they were connected to the surveillance, and suddenly what had been a selling point of their business — their NSA pedigree — looked like a toxic association.