The Download: Fresh faces among D.C. region’s investment community

September 11, 2011

Several fresh faces have joined the Washington region’s investment community as more companies, particularly in the tech sector, lay down roots in the area and financiers see the market as riper for deals.

Vienna-based Valhalla Partners snagged data storage wunderkind Farah Giga away from Silicon Valley. Giga, 28, most recently lead the integration of 3Par at Hewlett-Packard following its $2.35 billion acquisition of the data storage company.

Giga admits that a job in venture capital “came knocking a bit earlier than expected” but then again that’s been a recurring theme in her career. She’s already earned three degrees from Stanford University and began work at Hitachi Data Systems at 19.

The Valhalla position will bring her to the East Coast for the first time. “Obviously the government is there, defense is there and quite often they have a lot of cutting edge stuff and they’re willing to pay a lot of money for it.”

And her investment focus will be an area that the government is closely watching: cloud computing and data storage. Giga will be looking for companies that have efficient ways to store the volumes of data generated as the Internet touches more aspects of daily life.

Jonathon Perrilli and Adam Fazackerley, on the other hand, are no strangers to the Washington region. The pair met at UUNET during the dot-com boom and have spent much of the past decade working in cybersecurity and Web marketing, respectively.

They’ve now formed the investment firm Fortify.vc in Northern Virginia and have been fast out of the gate since June with five deals signed and seven more under review. The deals average between $150,000 and $250,000 and the firm has a particular eye for cybersecurity, mobile commerce and enterprise software investments.

“We have a different mindset” than some other investors, Perrilli said. “We are founders. We are entrepreneurs. And that’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

In October they’ll host Distilled Intelligence, a daylong event where startups can vie for a select number of spots to pitch a room of angel investors and venture capitalists. It’s free to enter and $25,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

“This is about the community at large,” Perrilli said. “For us the concept is to bring people together and see what magic happens.”

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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