Fund Aims To Protect Homeland, Earn Profit

Paladin Capital Group has raised $235 million for a private equity fund focused exclusively on the homeland security space. The Washington, D.C.-based firm began fund-raising nearly two years ago with a $300 million cover price, and subsequently held several interim closings so that it could begin investing.

The Paladin Homeland Security Fund currently lists eight portfolio companies, including SafeView Inc., a Santa Clara-based company that develops holographic imaging products for security screening. SafeView has raised $23 million from Paladin and other investors, including Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Paladin has also put $10 million in anti-microbial solutions provider AgION Technologies Inc., a Wakefield, Mass.-based company.

The firm says that typical investments will include between $15 million and $30 million of expansion-stage equity, with an emphasis on companies that can demonstrate commercial, as well as governmental, applications. For example, AgION’s products prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungus on a broad range of industrial, consumer and medical products.

“The goal is to toughen our critical infrastructure, so that we can compete in the 21st century with the same success that we had in the 20th century,” says Ken Minihan, a Paladin principal and former director of the National Security Agency (NSA). “We also want to make a profit.”

Minihan acknowledges that his presence – plus that of former CIA Director Jim Woolsey – could be viewed by portfolio companies as an entry into the Pentagon procurement process, but insists that his real value is as someone who understands the nation’s current homeland security needs.

Many institutional investors seemed to agree, with Paladin lining up such limited partners as Motorola, Siemens, Boeing, Battelle Memorial Institute, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and four of the five New York City pension systems, including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.

“I have the utmost respect for Ken and Jim and the other members of that group,” says Warren Holtzberg, co-founder of Motorola Ventures and a former government official. “They have a strong grasp of what we have in terms of homeland security, and of what we don’t yet have.”

Neither Holtzberg nor another Paladin LP interviewed for this story expressed any concerns over the fund not hitting its $300 million target. For his part, Minihan said that he and his partners would have been comfortable with anything over $150 million.