The Download: AlphaTech forms group of CEOs from cybersecurity, data analytics firms

October 27, 2013

The executives of emerging cybersecurity and data analytics companies have a new club to join.

AlphaTech plans to provide eligible executives with an eight-month program that features networking events and guest speakers who discuss business opportunities and public policy issues impacting the sectors. At the end, the executives join the group’s alumni network.

Unlike similar groups, which are often founded by fellow executives, AlphaTech is the brainchild of the area’s professional services providers. The board of directors includes lawyers, accountants, investors, consultants and economic developers.

“The Greater Washington-Baltimore Area is a real hotbed for this kind of activity, but there are a lot of young companies with young executives and founders who complain about needing high-level advice,” said Greg Giammittorio, a partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster.

The incentive for professional services firms is obvious: AlphaTech provides them with access to a bevy of up-and-coming firms that will ultimately need legal, financial and business advice, if they don’t already.

The inaugural class of 20 companies includes firms funded by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, as well as spin-outs from larger corporations. They bring in between $2 million and $25 million annually, said Jason Kaufman, a managing director at the Chertoff Group, an advisory firm co-founded by former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.

“What we’re trying to build is really a collaborative alumni network of CEOs and senior executives who year after year ... tell their peers it was a worthwhile program,” Kaufman said.

The group held its kickoff last week at Maggiano’s restaurant in Chevy Chase with a speech from Prescott Winter, a managing director at the Chertoff Group and the former chief information officer and chief technology officer at the National Security Agency.

“A lot of organizations around town have done a single event here or there on these hot areas, but what were trying to do is a more sustained approached with eight programs, then that group would graduate and build on itself with an alumni network,” Giammittorio said.

Cvent on the move

Cvent plans to move to a new corporate home next year.

The company, which makes software for event planners, has signed an 11-year lease for roughly 130,000 square feet of office space at 1710 Solutions Dr. in Tysons Corner. The headquarters will house the company’s 450 employees, plus 400 it plans to hire.

The building, dubbed “Greensboro Station,” is next to a Silver Line Metro stop of the same name. The station is to open early next year, and the company will relocate in the third quarter.

Cvent currently resides in McLean, less than a mile from the new office.

The new building is part of campus of the former headquarters of Science Applications International Corp. It was recently sold to the Meridian Group, a real estate development firm, which plans to refurbish the building and pour $7 million alone into the three floors to be occupied by Cvent.

“We’re planning to expand pretty rapidly. It’s a former corporate headquarters, so it’s a facility that will better accommodate our future growth,” chief executive Reggie Aggarwal said.

To keep the company in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) approved a $1 million grant from a state economic development fund. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide money for employee recruitment and training.

Cvent was weighing locations in Maryland, Aggarwal said, but opted to stay in Tysons in hopes that the addition of Metro stations and other amenities will turn the area into an attractive destination for young workers.

“What we’ve learned is the DNA of the company is your people,” Aggarwal said. “The place where you are is a big, important part [of that], especially because we have a lot of the millennial generation in our company.”

Cvent raised $135 million in an initial public offering in August, including $117.6 million on its first day of trading. Executives said at the time that the money would help fuel Cvent’s expansion into markets across Europe and Asia.

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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