D.C. mayor to make rounds at SXSW

January 20, 2013

Washingtonians who flock to Austin for South by Southwest this March will find a familiar face in the crowd: D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

The 10-day festival draws thousands of attendees from around the country. It’s divided into segments centered around technology, music and film.

Attending for the first time, Gray is to stop in on March 9 during the “interactive” portion that features panels, speeches and mixers for techies and creative types. Gray intends to talk up the local tech economy to news outlets from other cities.

“This was the right thing to do for the city to really grow the tech community and get a larger megaphone for what’s happening here,” said David Zipper, D.C.’s director of business development and strategy.

Gray’s contingent includes deputy mayor Victor L. Hoskins, Jenifer Boss, senior business development representative; and Zipper.

Taking stock

Steve Case’s Revolution LLC holds its first annual investors’ conference at Miraval Arizona in Tucson this week. Around 200 guests — including Washington sports mogul Ted Leonsis — are expected at Miraval, which is part of Case’s Revolution Places resort group.

The investors will have a lot to talk about, including the progress of their $450 million Revolution Growth Fund, which targets companies worth $100 million with what Leonsis calls “speed-up capital,” hoping to grow them rapidly.

Donn Davis, a founding partner in the Revolution Growth fund with Case and Leonsis, and a former colleague from AOL, will provide an update on the Revolution Growth fund and the forecast for 2013.

Davis will introduce the chief executives from Echo360, which tapes classroom lectures so they can be replayed on demand, FedBid, which manages a government prodcurement marketplace, and big data firm Resonate, three Washington firms that are early investments.

Revolution executive Ron Klain, former chief of staff to vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, will talk about the public policy environment and its impact on investing.

Miraval, a high-end destination spa, in 2011 hosted some of the country’s most prominent philanthropists, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, at the first gathering of the Giving Pledge attendees.

Back to school

After public relations, a start-up and philanthropy, Winston Lord is headed for the halls of academia.

Lord, who was listed by People magazine in its “2005 Hottest Bachelors” issue, has signed a one-year agreement to be an entrepreneur-in-residence at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

“We are careful about who we pick to be partners with,” said Neil Tarallo, academic director at the school’s Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship.

Lord, 45, is co-founder of Venga, the District-based start-up that helps restaurants learn more about their customers.

The unpaid position calls for four visits to the campus for the spring and fall semester of 2013, during which Lord will hold office hours for students in 30-minute blocks.

“I’m honored,” said Lord. “I hope I can convey both the pitfalls and excitement in the volatile world of entrepreneurism.”

The Buzz hears:

Former Cable & Wireless president Alan Peyser speaks at Ingar Grev’s National Capital Region Entrepreneurs Forum, Jan. 28 at the Tower Club in McLean. Peyser left the company in the late ’90s after he had helped make it into one of the world’s largest providers of long distance telephone service. Founded in 2010, the forum is a venue for business wisdom.

Rockville-based Apex Cos. acquired A2L Technologies of Tampa, Apex’s third acquisition in 18 months. Apex, with more than $100 million in revenue and 500 employees throughout the United States is an energy and water resources engineering firm. It has 80 employees in Rockville. Apex is owned by its employees and by Tailwind Capital, a New York-based private equity firm. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Carlyle Watch

The public is hungry for yield. How hungry? About $500 million in 10-year bonds, with an interest rate of 3.87 percent, flew out of Carlyle Group last week in just a few hours. The debt, which is due in 2023, helped pay off a revolving line of credit that helped fund Carlyle’s purchase of an energy investment firm. “Strong investor demand for this debt reflects long-term confidence in the health and growth prospects of our firm and industry,” Chief Financial Officer Adena Friedman said.

Factoid of the Week

55MThat’s the number of worldwide customer service transactions handled by Herndon-based Parature last year, up from 35 million in 2012. In addition to phone, e-mail, Web support and live chat, customer service questions are now coming through social networks and mobile devices. Customers include Sid Banerjee Clarabridge, NASA, the American Chemical Society, WebMD and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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