One of the companies in the Baltimore area that I pay attention to on my tech beat is KEYW Holding Corp., a three-year-old company that’s launched itself hard out of the gate with a string of acquisitions and an IPO last fall.
It’s a public company in fact. But if you look at its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, you’ll be hard-pressed to figure out what it does for its federal government clients, namely the National Security Agency.
There are large defense contractors out there — think Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics — who do a lot of defense-related work. But you end up getting many glances at the stuff they’re doing for — and selling to — the government because they’ll often work on big projects that are hard to hide, i.e. fighter jets.
But more than half of KEYW’s revenues come from the NSA, whose annual budget is classified. The intelligence budget, in general, is hard to wrap your hands around — and spending on cyber security is generally not quantified. But KEYW needs to do some level of disclosure to appease shareholders and Wall Street analysts, to demonstrate that there is a bonafide market they are pursuing for business. So it’s interesting to see how they balance this fine line of disclosure and the need for secrecy. For instance, here’s KEYW’s review of the national budget for intelligence spending: