Dec. 2 E-Bird newsletter: Cyber firm Expel becomes NOVA’s third unicorn; Peraton announces new HQ location

Joining the unicorn club: Herndon cybersecurity firm Expel reached coveted unicorn status after raising $140.3 million in late-stage funding. With its valuation of now more than $1 billion, Expel is joining the roughly 1,000 startups around the world that have done so — including Tysons-based ID.me and Arlington-based Interos — and have been growing quickly even amid the COVID-19 crisis. This was the second funding round Expel completed during the pandemic. “These past two years have presented unique challenges that, I think it’s safe to say, most of us couldn’t have anticipated,” said CEO Dave Merkel. “Yet, during this time, we scaled our platform to handle an 82 percent increase in security events a day, doubled the number of technology partners and more than doubled the number of security investigations.” The Washington Business Journal has more.

Robust, diverse talent pipeline: Peraton signed a lease to establish a new corporate headquarters in Reston, InsideNoVa reported. Peraton expects to open operations in its new headquarters at 1875 Explorer Street in Reston Town Center by September 2022, once initial construction phases are completed for the custom-designed space. Reston will serve as a national and regional hub for the company, as 5,000 of Peraton’s 19,000 employees are based in the Washington, D.C., metro area. “Identifying a new headquarters that can be tailored to meet the needs and identity of the new Peraton is of paramount importance in that process,” said Stu Shea, chairman, president and CEO. “With the announcement of our new Reston headquarters, we are excited to remain in Northern Virginia, close to our customers as well as a robust and diverse talent pipeline and supported by world-class resources and infrastructure.”

Fast-growing firms? We’ve got ’em: Seven Fairfax County-based companies landed on Deloitte’s 2021 Fast 500 list, which ranked the fastest growing companies in media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech and energy tech. Led by the aforementioned Expel, at no. 18 in the nation with 12,858 percent growth, the additional companies are: no. 76: Centripetal (Reston) with 2,252 percent growth; no. 282: Urgently (Tysons) with 457 percent growth; no. 286: Riva Solutions (Tysons) with 452 percent growth; no. 313: Ridgeline International (Tysons) with 395 percent growth; no. 350: Homecare.com (Tysons) with 339 percent growth; and no. 431: Brillient Corporation (Reston) with 266 percent growth. Two other companies based in Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance jurisdictions placed on the list: no. 92: Gravy Analytics (Loudoun) with 1,768 percent growth; and no. 121: HUNGRY (Arlington) with 1,128 percent growth. “The greater Washington area continues to be a premier hub for technology and innovation. The region’s tech sector benefits from access to a well-qualified workforce, the ability to attract talent and proximity to the federal government,” said Amy Holcomb, Deloitte’s area leader in technology, media and telecommunications. Technical.ly/DC has more.

On your mark: Reston-based SAIC inked a $1.1 billion contract Tuesday to provide Mark 48 torpedoes and support to the Navy, as well as allies Taiwan and Australia, the Washington Business Journal reported. Fielded since 1972, the Mark 48 serves as the one of the Navy’s preeminent submarine-launched torpedoes. Department of Defense contracts have made up roughly half of SAIC’s total $3.7 billion revenue for the six months ending July 30 in the current latest fiscal year.

Striving for growth: Herndon-based Strivacity, a customer identity and access management provider founded in 2019, raised $9.3 million in Series A financing, according to the Washington Business Journal. The money will speed up research and development, which involves adding new features to prevent attackers from hijacking accounts and helping brands identify fraud, among others, said co-founder and CEO Keith Graham. The business, which today counts 25 employees, plans to double its headcount by the end of 2022, Graham said.

That’s a lotta bits: Tysons-based MicroStrategy founder and CEO Michael Saylor has cemented the enterprise-software company’s position as the largest corporate owner of Bitcoin, saying the company purchased $414 million more of the largest cryptocurrency during its recent swoon, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg said the company, which has been buying Bitcoin since August 2020, now holds 121,044 tokens valued at about $7 billion. Saylor has become the most prominent pro-crypto CEO, Bloomberg said.

Get on their calendar now: Seven leaders at Fairfax County-based companies and organizations landed on Virginia Business magazine’s “100 People to Meet in 2022” list: Stephen Ambrose, chief climate scientist, SAIC (Reston); Michael Cardaci, CEO, HRTec and FedHIVE (Springfield); Dr. Sandy Chung, CEO, Trusted Doctors (Fairfax); Damon Griggs, CEO, Dovel Technologies (Tysons); Steven Partridge, vice president of strategy, Northern Virginia Community College (Fairfax);  Sarah Strohl, executive assistant, Bob Ross (Herndon); and Tracy Tynan, director, unmanned systems, Virginia Unmanned Systems Center (Herndon). We are pleased to note that Mr. Partridge is a member and treasurer of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Commission, the FCEDA’s governing body. Nine leaders located in other Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance jurisdictions also made the statewide list.

Disrupting status quo: Herndon and Seattle-based BlackSky will soon add two more satellites to its constellation through a scheduled Spaceflight Inc.-managed rideshare launch with SpaceX. Expanding the constellation to ten satellites will enhance the company’s geospatial capacity for data while increasing revisit rates for customers, citybizlist reported. “Our high-revisit constellation reinforces our commitment to delivering real-time data and intelligence to our customers, which disrupts the industry status quo,” said Nick Merski, BlackSky COO. “Our customers continue to benefit from the predictable, rapid growth of our geospatial services.”

Robot meetup: AWS, which operates its East Coast headquarters in Herndon, unveiled IoT RoboRunner, a new robotics service designed to make it easier for brands to deploy and build fleets of robots that work together. The new service is built on technology similar to what Amazon uses in its fulfillment centers. Users can connect robots and work management systems and monitor via a single system view. “IoT RoboRunner provides a central data repository for storing and using data from different robot management systems and enterprise management systems,” the company’s website reads. IoT RoboRunner is available in public preview, with companies able to use them in Northern Virginia in the U.S. and Frankfurt, Germany, IoT World Today reported.

Ortho outpatient operations: Virginia Hospital Center is charging ahead with expansion plans while growing its ambulatory footprint, starting with a $34.5 million purchase in McLean. The Arlington health system purchased a building at 1760 Old Meadow Road where it is setting up an orthopedic outpatient surgery center, says VHC CEO Jim Cole. The hospital is renovating a 14,900-square-foot area of existing building in a project expected to cost $6.4 million including construction and equipment, reported the Washington Business Journal.

Bringing the workout to Reston: The St. James, the region’s largest athletic facility, is planning a second location. Reston developer Boston Properties confirmed the Springfield athletic and sports development company signed a lease for a 25,000-square-foot facility in the One Freedom Plaza building in Reston Town Center. The St. James Performance Club, which plans to open in the spring, will complement its 450,000-square-foot Springfield campus with a more compact fitness club with athletic training and group fitness capabilities, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Chart topper: Reston-based Bechtel ranks at no. 2 of the top 10 in the nation for government construction contractors ranked by annual revenue, ExecutiveBiz reported. With $12.23 billion revenue in 2020, the company offers various services in different sectors such as power, transportation, civil infrastructure, mining, and most especially, government contracting.

Sweet deal: Mrs. Jo’s Petite Sweets, which began as a dessert business out of Frontier Kitchen in Lorton, has expanded to include corporate catering and, soon, a brick-and-mortar operation inside the PenFed Credit Union headquarters in Tysons. The name is changing to Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats. Now gobble up an interview with Army veteran Errin Roth, the company’s founder, in the Washington Business Journal.

And a cookie contender: Finley Sheers, a fourth grader at Churchill Road Elementary School in McLean, turned her baking hobby into a Food Network appearance, WTOP reported. What started as a pandemic hobby has evolved into a small business for Finley, who estimates she has completed 20 orders to date, including cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Her skill caught the attention of the Food Network, which offered her the chance to compete in its Kids Baking Championship that premiers December 27. Check out her Instagram account for more information.

Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

General Dynamics Information Technology won an $829 million contract with the Defense Intelligence Agency to provide IT help desk services. Virginia Business

M.C. Dean obtained a $250 million contract from the Department of Defense to provide integrated electronic and physical security systems for the Pentagon Reservation, Mark Center, Defense Health Headquarters, DoD leased facilities, Raven Rock Mountain as well as Washington County, Maryland. Virginia Business

Cognosante booked a five-year, $200 million contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to perform work on documents that provide CMS clients with information on their health coverage for use on their tax-related filings and transactions. GovConWire

Science Applications International Corp. received a two-year, $86.6 million contract from the Navy to integrate command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems on military vehicles. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman secured a $153 million dollar contract from the Navy to produce supersonic guided missiles designed to counter surface-to-air threats. ExecutiveBiz

Centuria scored a $48 million contract from NASA to provide information technology services for the agency’s Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center and Ames Research Center. GovConWire

Featured business events

December 8 –Virtual Health & Care Job Fair. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Work in Northern Virginia in partnership with the Fairfax County Long-Term Care Council, this event is hiring at all experience levels for those in the health and care industries. Click here if you are a hiring employer or a job-seeker who is interested in participating.

December 8 — NVTC Tech 100 Celebration. This event at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner will celebrate the 2021 NVTC Tech 100 honorees, a roster of cutting-edge companies, executives, innovators, NextGen leaders and rising stars who are driving tech innovation, leading economic growth, and making a positive impact in the region. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is a sponsor of the event that also will celebrate NVTC’s 30th anniversary and the retirement of NVTC President and CEO Emeritus Bobbie Kilberg. Click here to register.

December 9 — The Company We Keep: Building the Right Culture for Tomorrow. Presented by the Northern Virginia Economic Alliance, this Catalyst for Change series webinar will feature panelists Naveen Krishnamurthy, president and CEO, Riva Solutions; Jamie Notter, co-founder, Propel, Culture Advisors; and Alex Iams, executive vice president, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Click here to register.

Jingle Mingle. The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce presents its annual holiday celebration. This event is this session is part of the Business Education Series sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Click here to register.

December 14 — Talent Wars 2021 National Research Report. In collaboration with Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Tech Talent Gap Community, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority’s talent initiative team is sponsoring Robyn Domber, vice president, research, DCI, to present findings and recommendations from their Talent Wars 2021 research report. Click here to register.

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 FCEDA Commission, by the way). Click here for more information. Registration opens soon.

January 27 –Cyber/Cloud Virtual Career Fair. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority will present 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.