American Spies Are Heading Westward to Make Spooky StartupsS

If you want to make a company premised on squeezing money out of vast troves of personal data, our U.S. government is one swarming job fair jamboree. The New York Times details how tax-trained engineers are cashing out through California startup jobs.

Rather than having to go through the rigamarole of dropping out of Stanford, hopping through a few startups, and then going to work for an ominous-sounding firm like Impermium, Morta—or of course, Palantir—you can take training from the Pentagon and be ready to go. No need to sift through west coast dilettantes when the Beltway is cranking out perfectly good young snoops.

Of course, the kids love it:

“Doing things on a classified level really opens your eyes,” [security firm co-founder Jay] Kaplan said. “The government is doing a lot of interesting things they don’t disclose. You have a unique perspective on what the adversary is doing and the state of computer security at a whole other level.”

And the culture of radical secrecy flourishes on both coasts:

Morta’s work is in such “stealth mode,” in valley parlance, that the company has said nothing about what it is working on. Nor would [co-founder Raj] Shah describe fully what his two co-founders were doing at the agency before they formed the company.

Really, what is the NSA if not a startup in perpetual stealth mode? High pay, high covertness, and days spent devising new ways to harvest the personal information of millions of Americans—you might as well just move to Palo Alto and escape Washington weather.