May 25, 2023, E-News – SpiderOak moves HQ to Fairfax County, joins Northern Virginia Space Hub + Weekly Business News Digest

SpiderOak Moves HQ to Reston, Joins Northern Virginia Space Hub

Cyber space resiliency company SpiderOak is reaching out for new horizons – not only has it segued its business operations from, well… Earth — to space on satellites — but has moved its headquarters to the Reston Town Center in Fairfax County. A U.S.-owned and operated software company, SpiderOak delivers end-to-end cybersecurity solutions for civil, military, and commercial space operations. Officially opening the doors of its Reston office on April 10, 2023, SpiderOak is one of the latest of many space and satellite companies of all sizes to move to and set up shop in Northern Virginia, a burgeoning hub for space companies. In 2022, for example, Boeing and Raytheon announced moving their global corporate headquarters to Northern Virginia. Blue Origin opened an office in Reston last year.

SpiderOak’s CEO Dave Pearah sat down with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to talk about the company, its innovative technology and recent pivot to space, and why they chose to relocate from Kansas and Chicago to Fairfax County.

“We had a couple of customers in the space industry, and we all kind of looked at each other and said: ‘I think this is the thing!’ Then we found a lot of folks in the Reston area, and the D.C. area, who were pursuing complementary solutions for space,” Pearah explained. “And so we found our niche, and our new beachhead, and we doubled down on it once we realized that this was an important mission — and one that was good for the company.”

The fact that we’re now in the space cyber resiliency market is a fun, exciting, and a surprising evolution of the company,” according to Pearah. “I think that’s also true for Fairfax County in general terms of space development. It has taken off in the last few years.”

Access to talent in Fairfax County and the region was a big draw for SpiderOak, according to Pearah. 

“As with any small company that is growing, talent is everything. We are no exception. Our company is nothing without the people that we are able to attract and retain,” Pearah said. “What do people look for? They want to work in a great office with lots of great options around that office, whether it is food or hanging out after work, or easy transportation, great quality of life, great education, and lots of opportunities.” 

Fairfax County offers just that, Pearah said, emphasizing that the office location in the Reston Town Center is ideal because of its amenities, including restaurants and its ice-skating rink in the winter. The Greater Washington region is an outstanding location for accessing qualified experienced talent, he said, including those with security clearances, or the desire to obtain one. 

“What’s nice about this area is the diversity of the talent in the candidate pool You get people coming from other small companies, we get people coming from mid-sized integrators, and even some of the larger organizations and hardware manufacturers,” he explained. “And that is the eclectic mix of people we need to make this company work. We are at this unique intersection of space, cybersecurity, and embedded hardware utilizing distributed ledger technology. We need people with that same diverse mix of interests, which Reston delivers.” 

Click here to read the entire interview and find out more about SpiderOak.

Weekly Business News Digest

And they’re off! More than half a decade after launching the largest economic development sweepstakes in recent history, Amazon has completed construction on the first phase of its second headquarters in Arlington, Va. Bisnow reported. On Monday, May 22, hundreds of employees began working in the pair of 22-story office towers that make up the first phase of HQ2, marking a major milestone in the massive development, Amazon announced in a release. The buildings, totaling 2.1 million square feet of office space, are eventually slated to host 12,500 Amazon employees. The company is shifting employees into the buildings in phases from nearby offices it temporarily leased during construction, and it expects to have 8,000 people working there by this fall, a spokesperson said.

Dedication and drive: Reston-based Bechtel delivered the first steel components of a new mobile launch platform for the Space Launch System. The company said the steel truss segments for Mobile Launcher 2 (ML-2) arrived at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this month, allowing assembly to begin this summer. ML-2 will be used for the larger Block 1B version of the SLS, with a first launch currently scheduled for late 2028, SpaceNews reported. “The success of the completed Integrated Critical Design Review (ICDR) and now our first steel delivery are two recent milestones that reflect the team’s dedication and drive,” said Felice Presti, project manager at Bechtel. “We remain committed to our mission of permanently changing the landscape at Kennedy and supporting the proud history and legacy of our customer, NASA.”

Major milestone: Tysons-based Iridium Communications has sent five spare satellites to orbit as part of its 10-year constellation resilience plan and in an effort to ensure continued delivery of critical network services to end users, reported ExecutiveBiz. The company said it launched additional spare satellites on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, bringing its on-orbit spacecraft to 14. After deployment, the latest batch of spare satellites passed transmission tests with Iridium’s Satellite Network Operations Center in Virginia. “The completion of our upgraded constellation was a major milestone in the history of Iridium,” said CEO Matt Desch. “With all the new products and services enabled by our network, the launch of these spares shows our commitment to maintaining the gold standard of satellite network services.” To date, 80 of 81 next generation satellites have been launched by Iridium.

Significant step: Falls Church-area based Northrop Grumman announced May 24 that the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) polar satellite passed its preliminary design review earlier this month, SpaceNews reported. Preliminary design review “is the first milestone that demonstrates the maturity of the system to meet the mission,” said Alex Fax, Northrop Grumman vice president of Next-Gen OPIR polar program. “It’s significant that we got there on time, per an accelerated schedule, so we can get the spacecraft delivered on time.” Northrop Grumman won a $2.37 billion contract in 2020 to develop two Next-Gen OPIR polar satellites with infrared sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles for the U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command. The spacecraft will travel “in highly elliptical polar orbits, which gives them full-time visibility of the Northern Hemisphere,” Fax said.

Ship shape: Herndon-based BlackSky and Tysons-based Spire Global announced May 24 they are offering a new global monitoring service that tracks ships via satellites, reported SpaceNews. The “maritime custody service” uses radio frequency emissions to automatically task imagery, detect and classify vessels, and continuously monitor change. The service combines data from Spire’s radio-frequency monitoring satellites that detect emissions from ships and locate dark vessels that manipulate their reported position in order to conceal nefarious activities. The system automatically tips BlackSky’s satellites to collect imagery. The companies said they are able to track as many as 270,000 vessels worldwide in open water, along rivers and canals, and while docked at port. Monitoring global maritime activity is critical to safeguarding national security, identifying illicit ship-to-ship transfers, intercepting smugglers or sanctions evasion, and tracking illegal fishing in restricted areas, said Iain Goodridge, senior director of radio frequency geolocation products at Spire.

Space collaboration: A team led by space company Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin, which has a Reston location, that also includes several aerospace and defense contractors from Greater Washington was selected by NASA for a $3.4 billion contract to build a lander spacecraft that will fly astronauts to and from the moon’s surface, reported Washington Business Journal. Blue Origin will build its Blue Moon lander in partnership with Bethesda’s Lockheed Martin; Arlington’s The Boeing Co.; Cambridge, Massachusetts, software company Draper Labs and Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic Technology. The Blue Origin-led team will design, develop and test its lander to meet NASA’s requirements for recurring astronaut expeditions to the lunar surface, including docking with Gateway, a space station where crew transfer in lunar orbit. The contract also includes one uncrewed demonstration mission to the lunar surface before a crewed demo on the Artemis V mission in 2029, NASA said in its announcement.

Heartfelt gift: Falls Church-area headquartered Inova Health System received a $75 million donation from Reston-based NVR founder Dwight and Martha Schar, longtime supporters of the Falls Church health system, Washington Business Journal reported in subscriber content. The donation was made to the nonprofit’s heart and vascular programs. The Inova Heart and Vascular Institute will be renamed the Inova Schar Heart and Vascular. The gift, which Inova calls “one of the largest” for heart health programs in the country, will be used to expand and support cardiovascular care and specialty services, research, prevention and early diagnosis, as well as to recruit and retain staff for the programs, and foster health equity in Northern Virginia. “With this gift, we can address the issue with intention, by strengthening our ability to prevent morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Chris O’Connor, chief executive of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute.

Leadership change: Nazzic Keene is retiring as CEO of Science Applications International Corp. and the Reston technology and defense contractor has tapped a former Microsoft  executive with deep ties to Northern Virginia to replace her, according to Washington Business Journal. Toni Townes-Whitley will step into the top spot at SAIC and take a board seat on Oct. 2, when Keene will retire from both roles. Keene, who has been CEO since 2019 and first joined the company in 2012, will then take a position as special executive adviser at SAIC through Feb. 2. “I have known, respected and admired Toni for years and am thrilled to welcome her to our SAIC family,” Keene said in a statement. “I am proud of all we have accomplished for our customers and colleagues during my tenure at SAIC, and I am excited to work alongside Toni in the coming months to ensure we don’t miss a beat in driving sustained growth and performance.”

Superior security solutions support (say that 3 times!): Tysons-based Alarm.com acquired EBS, a Poland-based specialist in the design and manufacturing of smart communicators that are widely deployed in international markets. This acquisition amplifies Alarm.com’s capabilities in delivering advanced security technologies across various international markets, according to citybiz. “By leveraging the strengths of both EBS and Alarm.com, we are confident in our ability to deliver superior security solutions, support our service providers, and build on our competitive edge in the global market, all while collaborating with the experienced and knowledgeable teams at EBS,” said Aydin Bolkar, Vice President of International Operations at Alarm.com.

Across the pond partnership: Herndon’s Airside Mobile was acquired by Onfido, a London-based identity verification firm, a deal it completed late last year but is only now disclosing, Washington Business Journal reported. The sale to Onfido will give Airside more resources to help it capture a larger share of the global digital identify verification market, Airside founder and interim CEO Adam Tsao said.  Airside will operate as an independent unit within Onfido. Though the deal closed in October, an Airside spokesperson said the two sides wanted to be further along with the integration before formally announcing it.

Research recommendations: Tysons-based MITRE’s Center for Data-Driven Policy has released a new paper outlining a set of recommendations on how the Department of Defense could advance the deployment of its Joint All Domain Command and Control capabilities. The research center recommended taking an agile, “bottom-up” approach to systems engineering to address user needs, ensure working products and rapidly iterate to fix issues, MITRE said, according to ExecutiveGov.

Playing it cool: Tysons-based MicroStrategy was named by Analytics Insight magazine in the “10 Coolest Business Analytics Companies of 2023” in the nation. According to the magazine, MicroStrategy is “one of the more established players in the field of data analytics, MicroStrategy claims to be the largest independent, publicly traded business intelligence company. Settled in Tysons Corner, Va., MicroStrategy offers its undertaking examination and implanted investigation stages as a component of the organization’s ‘knowledge all over the place’ vision.”

Dexterity at scale at Dexian: Tysons-based staffing firm Digital Intelligence Systems (DISYS) and Florida-based Signature Consultants have rebranded their combined company as Dexian, according to Virginia Business.  The new company has a combined revenue of more than $1.3 billion and almost 12,000 employees across more than 70 offices. It is integrating its staffing, IT and workforce solutions companies into one platform. “The Dexian brand reflects our commitment to applying dexterity at scale through our new integrated platform of services and solutions and to creating exceptional experiences for our clients, consultants, employees and partners,” said Dexian CEO and founder Mahfuz Ahmed.

Name that new tune: Tysons-based Attune has developed a real-time occupancy sensing product that helps building management, Fierce Electronics reported. In the post-pandemic work environment companies need to be able to manage building occupancy. Attune believes that occupancy sensors could make things easier for them, presenting them with new sensor technology that could be “like a smartwatch for the building” that can collect data on how many employees are enterprising specific spaces, according to Serene Almomen, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown and the co-founder and CEO of Attune (formerly known as Senseware).

Funding round: Datasembly, a Tysons-based startup providing pricing and promotional data to retailers and consumer brands, secured $16 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Noro-Moseley Partners with participation from Grotech Ventures, Topmark Partners and Staley Capital. The company said it has amassed years of data from its proprietary data collection engine that can be deployed by grocery stores, retailers and brands to optimize pricing and promotional tactics.  Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

S(h)ave the planet: The Roscioli Razor Co., which signed a lease in Springfield, Va., aims to make longer-lasting razor blades — first, for personal razors and kitchen knives, but eventually for other applications, such as “industrial blades to cut plastics or paper, and so on,” founder and CEO Gianluca Roscioli said to Washington Business Journal. By squishing metal into a hard, sharp edge under rollers — rather than by the more common method of heating-treating and grinding, which makes it brittle — Roscioli said he’s invented a way to extend razors’ useful lifespans from about two weeks to six months. That improvement would benefit customers’ faces while simultaneously keeping used blades out of landfills and the environment, he said, serving his twofold mission to “s(h)ave the planet.”

Contract Wins

Amentum (Chantilly) won a five-year contract to aid the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane (NSWC Crane) Strategic Systems Hardware Division in the modification and development of ground support equipment for managing and transporting solid rocket motors, flight vehicles, common support equipment, and launch platforms. Military Embedded Systems

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

June 22, 2023 – 2023 Wharton DC Innovation Summit. Reflecting the turbulence of recent years from the pandemic, plus ongoing global economic disruption and geopolitical tensions, this year’s theme provides historical context and a helpful look ahead to those who want to control their destiny, while benefiting more people: Advancing to a Healthier, Wealthier World for All. Anyone who registers through FCEDA receives the Strategic Partnership rate which is $150 off the public price and the same price as Wharton DC Club members. They should register by selecting the Strategic Partnership rate and typing “FCEDA” in the Special Instructions box as they checkout by clicking here. Early Bird rates end on Saturday, May 27.

September 26-28, 2023 – 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.