March 10 E-Bird newsletter: Google to buy Mandiant for $5.4b; Easy Dynamics to create 61 new jobs; Vectrus merger to create defense biggie in Tysons

Google snaps up Mandiant: Among the biggest national business stories this week was word that Google, which has offices in Reston, plans to buy Reston-based threat-intelligence and cybersecurity innovator Mandiant for around $5.4 billion (yep, with a b). CNBC was just one of many outlets that picked up the story. Founded in 2004, Mandiant will join Google’s cloud computing division. This would be Google’s second-largest acquisition behind its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility deal in 2012. Mandiant was previously under the FireEye umbrella before that brand was sold. FireEye/Mandiant got a lot of attention for helping Microsoft discover the SolarWinds hack that attacked government systems in 2019 and 2020. Ruth Porat, finance chief at Google parent company Alphabet, called Mandiant “an extraordinary player in cybersecurity” and said investments such as this are necessary to compete with the largest cloud players, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, CNBC reported.

Assuming the deal wins approval from regulators, this would mark the third innovative Fairfax County company sold to a global brand in the last year, following Accenture Federal Services’ $1 billion purchase of Tysons-based data analytics firm Novetta and Qualtrics’ $1.2 billion purchase of Reston-based customer relationship-management software developer Clarabridge in 2021.

Easy (Dynamics) does it — in Fairfax County: Tysons-based Easy Dynamics Corporation, a technology services provider with a core focus in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and information sharing, will expand its operations in Tysons and create 61 new jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced. The new jobs will include software engineers, business analysts, project managers, and other business support roles. “We chose Fairfax County as our corporate headquarters due to the proximity and access to federal agencies, industry partners, and top talent,” said Easy Dynamics CEO Poupak Afshar. “Northern Virginia is home to the second largest cybersecurity workforce in the U.S. and the state’s attractive business climate make the area a fantastic location for technology companies of all sizes.” Virginia Business was one of several outlets to pick up the announcement.

V is for a victorious deal: Colorado Springs defense contractor Vectrus, which has a Tysons location, announced it will merge with Mississippi-based Vertex to create a military-focused company that will be based in Tysons, Stars and Stripes reported. The merger will form a defense contractor (new name to come) that will be among the nation’s 20 largest, with annual revenue totaling $3.4 billion, the companies said in a news release. The combined company will have more than 14,000 employees in more than 300 locations worldwide, with a contract backlog of more than $11 billion extending through 2027. Vectrus, which specializes in logistics, information technology maintenance and operating military bases, is slightly larger than Vertex, generating about $190 million more in revenue and employing 2,400 more people, mostly at military bases around the world. Vertex specializes in aircraft maintenance, systems engineering and training,

New career launch pad: Seattle-based space flight company Blue Origin is opening a facility and office in Reston in the first half of 2022, FFXnow reported. Reston will be home to the company’s “engineering Center of Excellence” and will focus on space architecture, launch vehicle systems analysis, launch vehicle component design and validation, and safety and mission assurance. On the website, the company touts Reston as part of the “Dulles Technology Corridor.” As of this posting, the company is hiring for 92 jobs at its Reston location — for jobs such as software engineer but also for titles you might not know existed such as fluid systems design engineer, avionics software engineer, dynamic environments engineer and cryogenic fluids engineer.

Ukrainian responses: Several Northern Virginia businesses with a global presence are helping employing employees in Ukraine, sending aid there, and/or suspending business dealings in Russia because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Virginia Business reported. They include McLean-based Mars, Tysons-based Hilton, Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Arlington, Amazon Web Services, which maintains its east-coast campus in Herndon; and Loudoun-based DXC Technology. “We join the world in supporting the innocent victims of this war and calling for a peaceful resolution immediately,” Mars CEO Grant F. Reid said in a statement. Also, several office buildings in Reston and Tysons have sported blue-and-gold lighting in the last two weeks to show support for Ukraine. Check out what Leidos did at its Reston Town Center headquarters.

Monitoring maneuvers: Herndon-based HawkEye 360 detected GPS jamming along the Ukraine border prior to the Russian Invasion, Geospatial World reported. HawkEye 360’s unique satellites can monitor radio frequency signals from space over hundreds of millions of square kilometers daily. “This is a modern war, with the Russians leveraging the latest in Electronic Warfare technologies. This is representative of the tactics that Russian troops are deploying to degrade the effectiveness of space-based assets, such as the United States Global Positioning System. GPS jamming is one facet that we are seeing evidence through the use of our signal detection constellation and processing capabilities,” HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini said.

Free education: Amazon will partner with more than 140 colleges and universities, including five in Virginia, to provide fully-funded college tuition for its hourly employees, Virginia Business reported. Courses can be taken in person, online or on-site at many of the company’s distribution centers. In Northern Virginia, Amazon employees will have access to degrees at Northern Virginia Community College and Lord Fairfax Community College. Statewide, Amazon employees can attend Virginia Commonwealth University, Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College. Employees can pursue a bachelor’s degree, earn industry certifications and build other skills. The e-commerce giant made a pledge to commit more than $1.2 billion to provide free education and skills training opportunities to 300,000 of its employees by 2025.

Machine-learning initiative: Amazon and Virginia Tech are partnering on an artificial-intelligence and machine-learning research initiative that will have a presence at both Tech’s Blacksburg campus and its Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia Business reported. Dubbed the “Amazon-Virginia Tech Initiative for Efficient and Robust Machine Learning,” the program will include doctoral student fellowships, research projects and community outreach, as well as a shared advisory board. It will be housed at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering in Blacksburg and at the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, which will be in the first building at the Innovation Campus, a $302 million center currently under construction. The Sanghani Center is supported by a $10 million gift from Reston-based Octo Consulting Group CEO Mehul Sanghani and his wife, Hema, who are both Tech graduates.

Guidehouse flexes its HQ muscles: Guidehouse is building a headquarters in Tysons with many of the perks that some employees now demand when the global management consulting firm began its search for a new headquarters in 2019, Virginia Business reported. The amenities include more flexible spaces, access to the outdoors, and technologies to support remote work and meetings. Announced in May 2021, the move to the new headquarters includes a $12.7 million investment spread over two floors, representing about 75,000 square feet, at 1676 International Drive in Tysons. Guidehouse originally forecast the move would bring more than 900 jobs for a total of 1,550 employees headquartered at the new Tysons-area location, but the company said that number may increase.

Satellite connection: Tysons-based Spire Global partnered with Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which has offices in Herndon, on a space-services program to address a growing market need for radio frequency (RF) collection and analysis. Spire’s cluster of four 6U satellites will enhance SNC technology that detects and geolocates certain objects based on targeted RF emissions. The program will provide valuable insight into how military and government organizations can better manage RF emissions and safeguard against RF and GPS interference, Intelligence Community News reported.

International investors here: A Japanese real estate development company made its first investment in the Washington, D.C., market with the purchase of two fully leased office buildings in Herndon, CoStar reported in an article for subscribers. Mori Trust Co., through its U.S. subsidiary Mori America, finalized a deal with Barings for the Arboretum II North and South buildings on Monroe Street. The firm paid $142 million for the portfolio. Mori said it targeted the area for investment due to its anticipated growth and concentration of tech companies and data centers. The area has already seen substantial development along the path of the proposed expansion of the last leg of the Metro’s Silver Line, which is expected to open this summer.

Keeping the legend hopping: Bunnyman Brewing, on Guinea Road in Fairfax, is located just a few miles from a bridge at the center of an urban legend about a hatchet-wielding man in a bunny costume. “If you grew up in this area, went to high school in this area, everybody’s got a different version of the story,” Bunnyman Brewing co-owner Eric Barrett said. NBC4 Washington reported the mysterious origins of the urban legend.

Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

Leidos won a $545 million contract to support biomedical research for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Virginia Business

Northrop Grumman received a five-year, $111 million contract to modernize and sustain Navy aircraft that functions as the service branch’s communications relay and airborne command post. GovConWire

Featured business events

March 14 — 40Plus Monday Morning Speaker Series. This virtual event will feature Mike Batt, director of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority talent initiative, who will focus on how to continue your career with more than 100,000 jobs available across Northern Virginia. Click here to register.

March 15 — Hire Vets Now. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Work in Northern Virginia are a sponsor for this Hire Vets Now event for transitioning military, military spouses and veterans at the National Museum of the United States Army on Fort Belvoir. Networking receptions will provide the opportunity to connect with Virginia employers looking to hire military talent. Click here for more information and to register.

March 23 — Re-imagining Early Childhood Education in a Post-COVID World. Fairfax Futures and the NOVA Business Alliance for Early Childhood Education invite you to attend a virtual discussion featuring a panel of experts who will discuss challenges facing the early childhood education sector. Click here to register.

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.