E-Bird Newsletter

Dec. 16 E-Bird newsletter: Cvent debuts on Nasdaq, Custom Ink back in growth mode, SAIC ups talent pitch

Another opening bell: Tysons-based event management company Cvent has once again become a public traded company. The firm began trading on Nasdaq on Dec. 9 following the close of a merger deal with San Francisco-based special purpose acquisition company Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp., Technical.ly/DC reported. The pair first announced the deal, which marks Cvent’s second time going public, in July. Cvent is set to receive $801 million that Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal said would be put toward adding to its global team, boosting innovation and long-term growth plans. It was also expected to have an enterprise value of $5.3 billion following a heavy investment into its virtual and hybrid event offerings.

Growth suits them to a “t”: Merrifield-based Custom Ink is back in growth mode after a tough 2020, but the business looks “pretty different coming out of the pandemic than it was going in,” CEO Marc Katz said, the Washington Business Journal reported. First, the custom printing and retail firm, which got its start with t-shirts, is fresh off an acquisition of New York-based corporate gift company Swag.com, and revenue is around $500 million a year, Katz said, up both from 2020 and from 2019. Second, the company’s offerings look very different now. At the very beginning of the pandemic, Custom Ink pivoted to face masks, and then sped up a plan that had in the works pre-pandemic to expand its offerings. The company began to provide a wider array of products, including drinkware, tech accessories and more, as opposed to its previous focus on t-shirts and other items to be used for in-person gatherings.

Talent lures: With companies fighting for coveted talent in a competitive labor market, SAIC is leaning into policies aimed at capturing and retaining talent. CEO Nazzic Keene, on the company’s third-quarter earnings call, said the Reston technology contractor would be using workforce policies it first unveiled in September as new incentives to make the company attractive to talent during and after the pandemic. Some of those steps include an enhanced employee benefits package that allows for amenities such as an optional four-day work week, backup child and elder care, the addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday and increases to paid family leave, according to the Washington Business Journal.

A domain for everything: Reston-based Public Interest Registry (PIR) operates “.org”– the top-level domain with more than 10.5 million domain registrations worldwide, mostly tied to nonprofits, mission-driven orgs and other organizations. Now, PIR is now expanding its portfolio of top-level domains. Last week, it announced the acquisition of “.giving” from Giving Limited, a UK-based domain manager. It will also take stewardship of “.foundation,” “.charity” and “.gives” from Donuts, another manager headquartered in Washington state. Jon Nevett, the CEO and president of PIR, told technical.ly/DC that having all the top-level domains in one place will give organizations, nonprofits and others more control over their place online.

Transformational strategy: Fairfax-based Information Analysis Incorporated (IAI), raised $9.9 million in equity financing through a private investment, technical.ly/DC reported. Jamie Benoit, chairman and CEO, noted, “We believe that IAI is in an excellent position to continue its transformation strategy and reposition the Company as a disruptive technology and commercial enablement leader in government and global private sector verticals. We were delighted that members of the management team and our Board of Directors invested in the transaction, which reflects our collective belief in the significant potential of IAI in the market.”

Siren for growth: Tysons-based Datasembly, a provider of real-time product pricing, promotions and assortment data for retailers and consumer brands, said it has raised $7 million in a new round of funding, led by previous investor Valor Siren Ventures. The company said it will use the funding to accelerate growth within its engineering and sales operations teams and invest further in its sales and marketing strategies. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Biopharma investment: McLean-based emerging clinical-stage biopharma company KeifeRx raised $6 million in series A financing to help support its pipeline of developments to treat multiple types of neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, BioSpace reported.

CyberSheath gets the Light touch: CyberSheath, a Reston-based cybersecurity company focused on defense contractors, received an investment from West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Lightview Capital. CyberSheath has developed a managed services platform used by contractors that helps them meet federal cybersecurity and compliance requirements. “As we’ve seen growing nation-state threats from countries like Russia, China, and Iran, the days of trust without verification are long gone,” said Eric Noonan, CEO of CyberSheath. “Contractors are struggling to find solutions as these threats become more prevalent and this investment will help ensure that national security is at the forefront of their operations.” Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Investment a la Modus: Modus Create, a Reston-based digital product development company, received a strategic growth investment from New York City-based JLL Partners. The financing is the first outside investment for the firm. “As our clients and projects grew larger, we decided to identify an investment partner that could help us accelerate our growth to meet the demand we’ve seen over the last few years,” said Pat Sheridan, co-founder and CEO of Modus Create. “We’re at an inflection point in the digital transformation consulting space.” Founded in 2011, Modus Create employs more than 400 engineers, IT architects, designers and others in over 50 countries. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Patently foundational: Reston-based Noblis obtained a patent for a technology that works to develop highly scalable simulations of scenarios and infrastructures for data analysis and intelligence gathering support. The patented platform serves as the foundation of Noblis’ Metropolis of Things simulation engine that provides multi-layered models of city infrastructures to help developers gather actionable insights for decision-making, ExecutiveBiz reported.

Creative catch: Fairfax-based ICF International signed a deal to purchase Tysons-based information technology firm Creative Systems and Consulting. The agreement comes a month after the Fairfax consulting firm bought Rockville health information technology firm Enterprise Science and Computing. Creative will not only provide ICF with one of largest women-owned businesses in Greater Washington, it also secures for the company key offerings in the IT modernization and digital transformation fields, as well as a portfolio of federal clients hungry for them. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year, reported Washington Business Journal.

Neu union: Chicago-based TransUnion acquired Reston-based application and network security company Neustar Security Services from a private investment group led by San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital for $3.1 billion. TransUnion’s president and CEO Chris Cartwright said, “We look forward to beginning a smooth integration of the two businesses. As digital commerce continues to grow globally, we’re confident that TransUnion’s powerful digital identity assets, augmented by Neustar’s distinctive talent, data, digital resolution capabilities, and products and services will extend trust among consumers and businesses and enhance our position as a global information and insights company.” CyberWire has more.

CACI follows protocol: Reston-based CACI International established a memorandum of understanding with Sweden-based Yubico, which has offices in California and Washington state, to enhance the security and authentication protocols of its mobile platforms for the company’s government customers, ExecutiveGov reported. “CACI and our partners are bringing this state-of-the-art multi-factor authentication tool, combined with the most-advanced mobile hand-held device for trusted mobile platforms to the market,” said Todd Probert, president of national security and innovative solutions at CACI.

Ever-changing battle: Reston-based ClearVector, developer of an identity-driven cloud security platform, announced its public launch. The company said its platform gives users the tools to proactively fight cyber-attackers in cloud environments. “Cybersecurity is an ever-changing battle, and the attackers typically have all the control. We’re focused on enabling our customers, the defenders, to understand the risk associated with their own identities, and in realtime, enable them to win against the adversary,” said John Laliberte, ClearVector’s CEO. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Howdy, Partnership: As the Tysons Partnership prepares for a leadership transition, Rich Bradley will step in as acting executive director of the business advocacy group starting Jan. 1, the partnership told the Washington Business Journal. He takes over for Sol Glasner, who is retiring following roughly four years leading the Fairfax County organization. “Rich has been working with the partnership as an adviser over the past year as we have continued in our pursuit working with the county to transition the organization,” Josh White, senior vice president for D.C. development with LCOR and the president of the Partnership’s board, wrote in a statement.


Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

General Dynamics won a $93.5 million award from the Army to manufacture M1A2 Abrams tanks for an undisclosed foreign military sales customer. ExecutiveBiz

Leidos secured a five-year, $82 million contract to help the Air Force develop equipment and software for defending against small unmanned-aircraft systems. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman booked a $53.9 million contract from the Defense Logistics Agency to deliver repairable spare items for common electronic communication equipment and parts to the U.S. Navy and Japan. GovConWire

Parsons received a $10.8 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to prototype a ground operations center for a satellite system. ExecutiveBiz


Featured business events

January 11 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Community Business Partnership and the U.S. Small Business Administration, this webinar will provide the business fundamentals needed to successfully start a business. The Entrepreneurial Spotlight this session will feature Pallabi Saboo, CEO of Tysons-based Harmonia Holdings Group (and the newest member of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Commission, by the way). Click here to register.

January 15 — MLK Economic Empowerment Brunch. Join the Fairfax NAACP for a morning focused on Black economic empowerment with inspiring speakers, delicious food and great music. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is a sponsor of this event, featuring keynote speaker Richard Fowler, the nationally syndicated radio host of The Richard Fowler Show, a Fox News Channel contributor, and a millennial messaging expert. Click here to register.

January 27 –Cyber/Cloud Virtual Career Fair. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority presents another one-stop-shop for technologists to network and interview with leading, hiring tech companies in Northern Virginia. Interested companies  may contact Mike Batt, director of talent initiatives, at mbatt@fceda.org. Registration for job-seekers opens soon. Click here for more information.


How the Fairfax County EDA can help

The FCEDA 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.