April 13, 2023, E-News: Herndon-based Smoothstack aims to bridge the IT talent shortage gap + Weekly Business News Digest

Herndon-based workforce development firm Smoothstack aims to bridge the IT talent shortage gap

With the mission of furthering the best and brightest of talent, Herndon-based Smoothstack is a workforce development organization that is building future IT talent leaders via its modern apprenticeship model. Powered by AI and data science, Smoothstack develops pathways for exceptional diverse talent to enter the IT industry via a merit-driven system. Smoothstack is building a community — of recent graduates, veterans, universities, and companies — that is transforming the IT hiring landscape.

FCEDA sat down with John Akkara, Smoothstack founder and CEO, to find out more about the company. Akkara founded Smoothstack in 2018. Previously, Akkara led a global IT services firm headquartered in Connecticut. He has held roles at the investment bank UBS and hedge fund Silver Point Capital. Akkara also served as a vice president at Bank of America.

Click here to read the Q&A interview.

Weekly Business News Digest

Great places to work are here: Tysons-based Hilton ranked at no. 2 in the nation on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For list. Three additional Fairfax County-headquartered companies placed on the list: Capitol One (Tysons) at no. 15; Modern Technology Solutions (Springfield) at no. 41; and Navy Federal Credit Union (Vienna) at no. 53. Fortune’s list is based on a Great Place to Work survey that measures how employees feel about where they work, as well as the key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues and loyalty to the company. McLean Patch has more.

Largest round so far: Tysons-based software company ID.me completed a nine-figure fundraising round in mid-2022, but it didn’t say so at the time because it was preoccupied with a congressional investigation into its contracts with federal agencies, reported Washington Business Journal. Now it’s going public with the news. The company announced Tuesday that it raised $132 million in a Series D funding round led by Viking Global Investors in Greenwich, Connecticut. CapitalG — Alphabet’s growth-stage investment fund — Morgan Stanley Counterpoint, Chicago’s Pritzker Partners, Los Angeles’ Moonshots Capital and Austin, Texas’ Scout VC also participated in the round, ID.me’s largest so far.

Paving the way: Arlington, Va.-headquartered Raytheon Technologies‘ research and development arm has partnered with software company SpiderOak, which recently relocated its headquarters to Reston, to develop a technology offering meant to secure low Earth-orbit satellite communications, ExecutiveBiz reported. The partnership will embark on a project to build and integrate a flight-ready satcom security platform with space-based hardware. SpiderOak plans to combine its OrbitSecure cybersecurity software with a cloud technology Raytheon BBN developed to help protect communications in distributed, disrupted, disconnected and denied environments. The companies intend for their integrated offering to apply the zero-trust model and support multiple satellite constellations in proliferated LEO. “This partnership is paving the way toward secure, on-demand Geostationary Equatorial Orbit network-like LEO communications,” said Raytheon BBN President Jason Redi.

Changing of the guard: Reston-based Rolls Royce North America has named Adam Riddle as the new chairman and CEO of its North American branch, as well as president of its defense division, effective immediately. He succeeds Thomas Bell, who recently was hired to lead Reston-based Leidos. Riddle, a former Army officer and Boeing executive, has been with Rolls-Royce’s defense branch for nearly a decade. Bell, who led Rolls-Royce North America since 2018, is set to join Leidos in May, replacing Chairman and CEO Roger Krone, who will retire in July after nine years as Leidos’ chief executive. Virginia Business has more.

Looking back: Reston-based Leidos Chairman and CEO Roger Krone will retire in July, after nine years during which he nearly tripled corporate revenues and positioned Leidos as a leading information-services provider in the federal marketplace. Forbes contributor Loren Thompson penned an article on Krone’s career, starting when he joined the defense industry in 1978 through the present day. Looking back on his career, Krone said: “The only way to prevail is to be passionately committed to the enterprise and convey that commitment to employees. If they aren’t emotionally dedicated to the company’s success, then it probably can’t be sustained.”

Blast off! SpaceX successfully launched Tysons-based Intelsat’s IS-40e communications satellite April 7, which will help the operator meet the growing demand for connectivity on planes while also carrying its first hosted payload for NASA. SpaceNews reported. The satellite deployed solar arrays and is receiving and sending signals in geosynchronous transfer orbit following its launch, its manufacturer Maxar Technologies, which is based in Westminster, and maintains Chantilly and Herndon locations.

Expanding portfolio: Tysons-based Gigstreem, a Wi-Fi provider for apartment buildings, businesses and events, said it raised $59 million in new funding across two transactions in the first quarter of 2023, Washington Business Journal reported. Gigstreem said the acquisition adds more than 100 new properties to its portfolio, more than doubling the number of assets using its technology. It also said the deal grows its headcount and expands its customer support and engineering capabilities.

Pinnacle positioning: Herndon-based Akima, a provider of products and services to federal agencies, agreed to acquire Huntsville, Alabama-based Pinnacle Solutions, a provider of training and sustainment products and services to defense customers around the globe, citybiz reported.  “Akima and Pinnacle share a deep commitment to exceeding customer expectations and delivering exceptional value to our customers, employees, and shareholders,” said Bill Monet, president and CEO of Akima. “Combining Akima’s experience and technical expertise with Pinnacle’s differentiated mission readiness capabilities will enable us to solve our customers’ toughest challenges through innovative technology solutions.”

Significant milestone: Falls Church area-based Three Wire Systems has partnered with Amazon Web Services, which bases its east coast headquarters in Herndon, to use the former’s cloud services to provide government and industry customers with offerings focused on application development, cybersecurity and modernization, ExecutiveBiz reported. As part of AWS Partner Network, Three Wire looks to assist clients in establishing cloud-based DevOps environments for workload development, automation, management and optimization. Three Wire will have access to AWS’ technical training, certification programs and other support services. John Meier, senior vice president of technology at Three Wire Systems, said joining the AWS Partner Network is a “significant milestone.”

Engaging young innovators: Reston-based CACI hosted a booth the Navy League of the United States Sea Air Space STEM Expo on April 2 for students from grades 5 through 12 to learn more about pursuing careers in STEM. This is CACI’s third year sponsoring the event. “We are excited to provide young innovators with engaging opportunities to develop creative problem-solving skills and understand the types of challenges they can help address one day if they pursue a STEM education,” said Glenn Kurowski, CACI SVP and CTO. “We hope our participation in this event inspired these budding and curious minds to recognize the fun factor involved in developing out-of-the-box solutions, which is what we do at CACI every day in support of national security.” Yahoo Finance carried the release.

Rock on! Herndon’s Friday Night Live free outdoor concert series returns for its 29th season on May 5 on the Herndon Town Green. Sixteen concerts will be presented this year through the end of August, featuring an array of local musicians. Created as an economic development tool to promote Downtown Herndon, Friday Night Live is produced by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce with Volkswagen Group of America as its title sponsor. Herndon Patch has more, including the performance schedule line-up.

Contract Wins

V2X (Tysons) secured a seven-year, $440 million contract for aircraft maintenance support services to a pair of Navy weapons development and test squadrons. Washington Technology

Science Applications International Corp. (Reston) won a $102.5 million modification to a previous $1.1 billion U.S. Navy torpedo production contract to extend its support for a Navy Heavyweight Torpedo initiative. ExecutiveBiz

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

April 20 – Temperature Controlled Cargo to/from Dulles to Spain: a Conversation about the Region’s Uniquely Positioned Supply Chain Opportunity. Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce presents a hybrid event featuring a panel of experts who will discuss the challenges and opportunities in moving products into and out of Spain. The panel discussion will feature Rich Kilmer, CEO, Cargosense and April Redmon, Director, U.S. Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration. The opening remarks will be provided by Maria Pilar de Carlos Villellas, Commercial Counselor, Economic and Commercial Office, Embassy of Spain. Welcoming remarks will be given by C. Melissa McKenna, President & CEO DRCC; and closing remarks by  Jatinder Khosla, Fairfax Economic Development Authority and Chair, DRCC International Business Council.  Click here for more information.

April 20 – Titans of the Toll Road: Cybersecurity – The New Threat Landscape. Join the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce at the Google Reston office for the latest panel discussion with some of the most renowned cybersecurity experts available anywhere, who oversee some of the most critical data and infrastructures in the world. This presentation will be geared toward business owners and their employees, senior executives, and solution providers for an interactive discussion on what is considered the “new threat landscape”. Our panel will share their challenges, warnings, and thoughts on what small, medium, and large companies should do to be better prepared when cyber threats arise. Attendees will walk away with insights on what is coming, and when to engage the most innovative solution providers. Click here to register.

May 2 – Entrepreneurship 101, Starting a Business in Fairfax County. Join our panel of small business experts for an interactive webinar on how to start your business. We will provide you with informative step-by-step information sessions that will cover registering your business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), the Community Business Partnership (CBP), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI). This session’s Entrepreneurial Spotlight guest speaker will be Dolly Oberoi, CEO, C2 Technologies. Click here to register. 

May 4 – NAIOP Bus Tour and Trade Show. This annual tour looks at what is driving the market in Fairfax from office to industrial and retail to mixed-use. Bus Captains talk about all aspects of the market and provide valuable input on what is going on in the market. One of the most successful and interesting commercial market bus tours in America. The day starts with a trade show with vendors, properties and local government sharing news and closes with a reception once the buses return in the early afternoon. Click here for more information.

May 10 (in person)/ May 11 (virtual) – Transitioning Service Members, Veterans and Military Spouses Career Fair and Resource Expo. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Hire Vets Now Foundation, in partnership with Fort Belvoir, present a Veteran & Military Spouse In-Person Career Fair and Resource Expo at the National Museum of the United States Army at Ft. Belvoir on May 10, and virtually on May 11. Join us to interview with leading companies in Northern Virginia that are collectively hiring for thousands of positions across multiple sectors. In addition, veteran career organizations will be providing valuable career resource information, including resume translation guidance, community information, military spouse career education services, and more. Click here for more information and to register.

September 26-28 – Call for Experts: Connecting the Global Quantum Ecosystem. Quantum World Congress 2023 will occur September 26-28 in the Greater Washington region. It will once again bring together leaders from across the quantum ecosystem around the globe to address pressing challenges and emerging trends and share insights that help to accelerate and commercialize quantum technologies. Programming will take many forms — from presentations and panels to fireside chats and networking sessions. QWC will enable relevant, timely, and industry-leading information sharing and relationship building across these formats to foster a responsible environment for quantum growth. If your expertise and experience position you as a thought leader, then you are invited to complete the speaker application. Please also review the sponsorship packages to explore ways to showcase your brand at the event. Click here for more information.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.