The Download: Vocus aims to expand its office space with help from state, county


Vocus headquarters in Beltsville, Md.
October 28, 2012

Officials in Maryland and Prince George’s County have proposed offering financial help to Vocus, a media relations software firm, as it seeks to expand the footprint of the Beltsville headquarters it opened just last year.

The assistance could include loans worth $500,000 from the state and $100,000 from the county that will help Vocus add more parking spaces and take over a 26,000-square-foot facility next to its office.

Those loans, which must be approved by the Prince George’s County Council, would convert to grants if the company meets certain hiring requirements, company officials said.

“We’re hiring a lot of people. We’ve got to have space,” company spokesman Frank Strong said. “We’ve outgrown that space already, and we thought that would last us for years.”

The proposal comes about a year after Vocus opened its headquarters in Beltsville. The company was previously based in Lanham and decided to stay in Prince George’s County after considering a move to other locales.

That decision was made in part because of an incentive package from Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. that chief financial officer Steve Vintz said is valued at roughly $2 million.

Strong said that initial deal required the company to hire 300 people over a five-year period, and that Vocus has already fulfilled that requirement.

The company spent millions of dollars renovating its 93,000-square-foot office to resemble a small town, complete with a clock tower, radio station, coffee shop, basketball court and spa-inspired break room.

Though the major renovation, combined with a lease that expires in 2020, suggests the firm is unlikely to move anytime soon, Vintz said that the company has spoken with officials in D.C. and Virginia about a possible relocation.

Founded in 1992, Vocus houses about 700 of its 1,100 employees in the Beltsville office. The firm also has offices in College Park and Herndon.

Changes in the C-Suite

MicroStrategy, a Tysons Corner-based company that develops mobile apps and other software for businesses, shuffled its executive lineup last week.

The reorganization saw chairman and chief executive Michael Saylor shed his title as president. That position will now be shared by Jonathan Klein, also the chief legal officer, and Paul Zolfaghari, who starts in November.

The top spots also include Douglas Thede, senior executive vice president and chief financial offer; Bob Watts, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Peng Xiao, senior executive vice president and chief technology officer.

Former chief operating officer Sanju Bansal will remain vice chairman of the board of directors, but no longer bear an executive title.

The new positions were outlined in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that states Saylor recommended the changes.

A new GPS: The Graveyard Positioning System

Arlington National Cemetery’s efforts to review and organize its antiquated and varied record-keeping systems has led to a modern invention: A smartphone app that helps visitors locate graves, navigate the grounds and find information about events.

Called ANC Explorer, the app is available free for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android users, as well as those with simply a mobile Web browser.

Cemetery officials photographed 259,978 grave sites and other markers on the hallowed grounds as part of an accountability review that resulted from some tombstones being mismarked and records being poorly kept.

“This is just the beginning. In the future, ANC Explorer will offer features such as emergency and event notifications, restroom and water fountain locations, shuttle stops, and self-guided tours,” chief information officer Maj. Nicholas R. Miller said in a statement.

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.
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