AOL vet ‘back in saddle’ with FedBid job

October 28, 2012

Local entrepreneur Mark Walsh is the new president of FedBid, the Vienna-based company that Ted Leonsis and Steve Case made a $25 million investment in earlier this year for through their Revolution Growth venture capital firm.

Walsh, 58, who is well-known among Washington tech entrepreneurs, will give up his executive role at Bethesda-based GeniusRocket to take on his new responsibilities.

“I’m totally pumped,” Walsh said.

Thousands of government agencies, from the State Department to Homeland Security, shop through FedBid for everything from boots and uniforms to laptop computers and network service. Tens of thousands of private companies are registered to use the site.

Since investing in FedBid last January, Leonsis has had his eye on expanding the company’s business into state and local government procurements and other sectors.

“He immediately grasped the power of the FedBid model and the adjacent opportunities the company will pursue with vigor,” Leonsis said. Mark is fast and efficient when he sees a growth opportunity and knows how to scale a company.”

Revolution Growth is a private investment vehicle designed to reignite the high-tech, entrepreneurial culture that dominated Washington in the 1990s.

Walsh, an AOL veteran along with Leonsis and Case, has been a member of the FedBid board since the Revolution Growth investment. He said the auction company resembles a business-to-business firm called VerticalNet, which Walsh helped to take public during the dotcom bubble.

“I’m back in the saddle, and loving every minute of it,” he said.

Peter LaMotte will take over as chief executive at GeniusRocket.

The Buzz hears:

First cousins Edith Faulkner Graves and Elisabeth Owen Hayes have started Studio E Partners , an art gallery alternative that brings artists and collectors together. Graves is the daughter of the late Winthrop Faulkner, a prominent Washington architect known for designing houses in the contemporary style. The partners are hosting an open house at Chevy Chase Village Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 3.

Genesis Security Systems, which has 47 employees and plans to add at least five more, doubled the size of its offices — from 6,000 square feet to 12,000 — with a move down the street on Seneca Meadows Parkway in Germantown.

Genesis just received a $5.4 million contract, which means it will be expanding to fill its new space, which is owned by The Minkoff Co., and Glenn Meltzer of The Ezra Co. helped find the new space.

Genesis evaluates properties, designs and installs security systems, and has more than 400 clients, including the National Institutes of Health, the International Monetary Fund and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Local entrepreneur David von Storch plans to open Vida Fitness, Bang Salon and Aura Spa outlets in 28,000 square feet at Twelve12 project in The Yards, developed by Forest City Washington. Completion of Twelve12 is planned for mid-2014.

Bethesda-based Consero, which creates networking events for executives, is opening an office in Dublin for an “aggressive overseas expansion,” founder Paul Mandell said in an e-mail.

Parature, a McLean-based technology firm that helps companies such as WebMD, The Washington Post and Blackboard with online customer service, this month issued Parature Social Monitor designed to help customer service teams engage customers in real time who connect with businesses through social media sites.

Spotlight on expansion

Ricard Ivern, North American chief executive for Citelum, which makes energy efficient streetlights, said the French company plans on expanding its Washington headquarters at the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington to 19,000 square feet as it waits to move into new digs at the former St. Elizabeths Hospital site in 2013.

The company is increasing the number of employees here to nearly 100, about five times the current number, to help run an innovation center.

Citelum D.C. won the Streetlight Asset Management contract in February 2012, but the award was rescinded under circumstances now under review by the Contract Appeals Board. After a series of changes to the contract requirements, the contract was the awarded to M.C. Dean, but the board has put a stay on its execution as it reviews the unusual contract process.

“We decided that this should be our priority and we should push as hard as we could to get this contract,” Ivern said.

Citelum, headquartered in Paris, is 17 years old and has offices in 22 countries.

Factoid of the Week

66That’s the percentage of small-business owners in the Washington metro area who say cash flow is the biggest challenge they face. The survey, by Regus, a provider of flexible work spaces, said finding new customers came in second at 49 percent and marketing challenges were third at 38 percent.

An earlier version of this column incorrectly said Genesis Security Services specializes in software security. The company evaluates properties, and designs and installs security systems.

heatht@washpost.com

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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