Strider Technologies shining a light into the murky, and high-stakes, world of IP theft
U.S. companies are losing as much as $600 billion every year through intellectual property misuse. Strider has built a software platform that’s arming clients with strategic intelligence that’s pushing back against the tide of malfeasance
Twin brothers Eric and Greg Levesque don’t like to make too much of their identical genetic makeups or any mythic kinship that may have propelled their decision to launch a business together.
And indeed, their career paths appeared to be on pointedly divergent courses ahead of the birth of Strider Technologies. The company, founded in 2019 by the Levesques and data guru Mike Brown, is a high-tech strategic intelligence firm that is innovating information gathering and analysis to help public and private clients identify threats from state actors seeking inside tracks on talent and technology.
Before the convergence that would lead to Strider, Greg Levesque, who earned an undergraduate degree in economics from Utah State University and a master’s in security studies from Georgetown University, was working in Washington, D.C., as a consultant and adviser on economic statecraft issues. His work included aiding U.S. and European governments and Fortune 500 companies in identifying, assessing and responding to the risks of nation-state sponsored commercial activity.
Pre-Strider, Eric Levesque also spent his undergraduate days at USU, earning an economics degree before going on to BYU, were he completed the MBA program. His career path would take him into international finance where he made stops at Standard & Poors and Russell Investments on his way to work as an investor on behalf of the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Oman.
The brothers Levesque also carried language skills into their careers, first developed ahead of, and during, missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Strider CEO Greg speaks fluent Mandarin and Chief Operating Officer Eric is a fluent Russian speaker.
During the time Greg Levesque was working in D.C., spending a lot of time tackling China-related issues in industry, and Eric Levesque was working for the Omani wealth fund, the brothers were seeing overlaps in some of the challenges arising in their respective areas of expertise.
“For years we would continue this conversation about things that we were seeing at the nation-state level, how they were getting more engaged in industry,” Greg Levesque said. “Eric was actually dealing with it firsthand in Oman. And I can vividly remember this call where we were discussing this. And coincidentally, I was working on some projects with the U.S. government that actually had a Middle East angle. And we were looking at what China and Russia were doing in the region.”
The mechanics of the overlapping issues track back to nation-state actors looking for, and acting on, pathways to obtain insight on cutting-edge technologies being developed in the private sector and public institutions, and building complex systems and strategies to access troves of sensitive, and valuable, information.
“That was really a moment of clarity for us,” Greg Levesque said. “We realized that, hey, there’s a convergence happening. This is not a one-off issue. This is happening all over, around the globe. And the capability to address this in a meaningful way for industry did not yet exist.”
What the Levesques recognized, from a holistic viewpoint informed by their professional duties, was that intellectual property theft, talent poaching, supply chain disruption and other actions were happening via foreign government coordination with commercial actors. While those circumstances were not novel, the Levesques noted they were occurring at a higher rate then ever before.
Intellectual property, or IP, theft is by no means a sidebar issue in the broader U.S. economic realm. According to data tracked by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, IP loss or misuse costs the U.S. between $225 billion and $600 billion every year. And, the fiscal impacts play out very broadly as IP-intensive companies generate over one-third of the total U.S. gross domestic product and the Commerce Department reports more than 1 in 4 U.S. workers, over 40 million, are employed by these companies.
Strider’s cloud-based software platform was developed to aid its clients, which include private sector companies, government agencies and research/academic institutions, in identifying what types of new technology are being most targeted by outside organizations, who among their talent resources could be most sought-after and other more subtle markers of malfeasance.
Brown explained that the Strider platform was built to ingest and assess massive amounts of open-source data in multiple languages. The information it gathers is publicly available to anyone who takes the time to find it, but Brown noted that “knowing where to look” and how to process the information is key. Strider’s target data is in continual building mode, adding millions of documents every day, and able to identify and track financial information, the content of technical and academic publications, public postings, personnel movement and much, much more.
“We’re giving companies a 360 degree view of what’s happening,” Brown, Strider’s chief technology officer, said. “It’s identifying risk and the sources of that risk.”
A Strider assessment of joint research projects coming out of the Canadian university system found multiple links that showed cutting-edge advancements were making their way back to the Chinese defense sector.
According to research Strider provided to The Globe and Mail, researchers at 50 Canadian universities had conducted and published joint scientific papers from 2005 to 2022 with scientists connected to China’s military.
Strider found that in the past five years, academics at 10 of Canada’s leading universities published more than 240 joint papers on topics that included quantum cryptography, photonics and space science with Chinese military scientists at the National University of Defense Technology, per The Globe and Mail report.
Other Strider reports identified how the People’s Republic of China was systematically recruiting leading scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to advance its military programs and another showed that over the past 20 years, more than 30,000 individuals have left top European technology companies, including premier semiconductor firms, and moved to PRC-headquartered companies.
“PRC economic statecraft actors leverage government-backed talent programs, overseas alumni associations, and industry events to encourage overseas experts to relocate,” the report reads.
The report also uncovered strategies aiming to obtain new technology through business investment.
“Strider’s global investment data shows that over the past 20 years, more than 200 instances of PRC organizations, including several state-owned enterprises, investing in European semiconductor companies,” the report reads.
Strider has raised over $57 million in four venture funding rounds and operates three offices including locations in South Jordan, Tysons Corner, Virginia, and London.
Veteran entrepreneur-turned-venture capital investor Mike Janke saw Strider’s potential early on and his firm, Maryland-based DataTribe, led a $2 million Seed Fund round back in 2019.
In a Deseret News interview, Janke lauded Strider’s fast ascension and said the company has gone on to become a standout among DataTribe’s portfolio of investments.
“They just took off,” Janke said. “In the first two years, I believe they had 23 of the Fortune 50 businesses as customers. That just doesn’t happen.”