Silicon Valley & Defense Tech
Over the last few years there has been a lot of press coverage of Google canceling project Maven, a defense contract. This has led to claims Silicon Valley is no longer engaging in defense tech, despite tech's roots working with the Department of Defense and other government agencies. Things like the Internet, various semiconductor companies, and GPS/location services are all outgrowths of defense-related work.
It turns out that despite the popular narrative, companies both large and small have continued to work with the government. Indeed, Amazon and Microsoft are publicly fighting over a major contract with the DoD called JEDI. Other companies such as Intel, IBM, and Oracle have long standing defense relationships. Salesforce has long had a "Government Cloud" and DoD ATO approvals.
A few years ago, I thought new DefenseTech would largely consist of specialist companies like Anduril, whose primary focus is defense (Anduril recently landed a $250 million, 5 year contract with DHS as well as a $13.5 million Marine Corps contract). I have long thought there is room for an AI/ML-centric software only defense contractor.
The reality is that, in addition to defense-first companies like Anduril or Shield.AI, many of the companies recently landing large government contracts are tech companies that do not have defense as their primary vertical. The current generation of new defense tech companies look similar to the prior generation of defense tech companies - they are simply the leading companies of their broader respective areas selling (Read more...)