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Big government contractor picks up Mass.-based Reveal Imaging, maker of explosives scanner for airports

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 2, 2010 01:30 PM

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One of the investors in Bedford-based Reveal Imaging tells me this week's purchase of the company by Science Applications International Corp. is "a very positive acquisition," though the price wasn't disclosed.

Reveal makes a special automated scanner that airports use to check bags for explosives; in 2004, just two years after its founding, the company won approval from the Transportation Security Administration, which became its biggest customer — spending nearly $80 million in stimulus money to purchase the scanners. The company's compact CT scanners are also used in Israel, Mexico, and China.

Reveal, with just over 100 employees, was #284 on the Inc. 500 list of fast-growing private companies last year, and I mentioned them in a recent column about IPO prospects. (Guess that won't be happening.) Reveal's 2008 revenue was $47 million, and the company ("nicely profitable," according to the investor with whom I spoke today) could surpass $100 million in 2010 revenues.

Investors including General Catalyst, Greylock Partners, and Flybridge Capital put just under $25 million into the company.

I first visited the company in 2003, and mentioned them again in a 2005 column about venture debt.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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