In 1996, a small group of political scientists and entrepreneurs led by author George Friedman decided to move their project, The Center for Geopolitical Studies at Louisiana State University, into the private sector. They traded Baton Rouge for Austin, Texas, an emerging center for innovation, and formed Strategic Forecasting (later renamed Stratfor) around the idea that geopolitical intelligence and analysis used for accurate forecasting of global events would be valuable to individuals and organizations trying to make sense of an increasingly complicated world.
From the beginning, Strator's perspective challenged the dominant assumptions of the world's intelligence communities and mainstream media. In the 1990s, most believed the end of the Cold War had ushered in an era of peace, stability and globalization. In contrast, Stratfor suggested that the Soviet Union's collapse had destroyed the global balance of power and released the underlying international stressors that the Cold War had contained. By 1999, the Kosovo War began to unfold as the last domino to the breakup of Yugoslavia. Stratfor's understanding of geopolitics — how geography, economics, politics and technology intersect and shape international affairs — received landmark coverage and shaped the international media's understanding of this conflict 6,000 miles away. Since then, analysts have predicted the economic transformation of China, the East-West standoff in Ukraine and the ongoing disintegration of the European Union, confirming Stratfor's position as the world's leading geopolitical intelligence platform for both individuals and organizations around the globe.