The Washington area has seen a string of fast-growing companies get gobbled up by out-of-town players. So when analytics outfit Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) was sold to MasterCard for $600 million last year, it looked like yet another successful local act was about to be swallowed by a national behemoth.
That doesn’t appear to be happening — at least not yet.
On Wednesday morning, APT announced its intention to keep its headquarters in Northern Virginia and hire 368 new employees. The company plans to relocate to a larger location across the street from its current headquarters in Ballston. The company had been courted by North Carolina and the District.
“The partnership that we have with MasterCard has been a phenomenal extension and expansion of how we can support our clients, and we’re thrilled to be on the growth path that we’ve had,” APT chief executive Anthony Bruce said.
The company was lured in part by more than $6 million in grants, tax breaks and other public incentives patched together by the state and county governments — all of it contingent on certain local growth targets promised by the company.
APT stands out among Northern Virginia’s business heavyweights in that its revenue doesn’t come from the government. The company employs complex algorithms to test real-world business problems, setting up experiments and observing how seemingly insignificant tweaks to operations can affect sales. It helps Fortune 500 companies optimize such things as product pricing, store hours, incentive programs and other details.
Keeping APT local has been a point of focus for state and local officials in Northern Virginia. The state has been trying to diversify beyond government work for years — a dependence that served it well when the federal government ramped up following the 2008 financial crisis but came back to bite it when budgets stalled in Congress in 2012.
“Helping businesses in growing sectors grow in your home is the best strategy,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. “The prevailing wages of [APT’s employees] are really high, so the return on investment to the taxpayer is superlative.”
Arlington County officials are also looking to fill vacant office buildings, a problem for the region in recent years.
“One of our overall goals is to work on our vacancy rate and really grow our tech sector, which is doing really well,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) said.
APT executives declined to comment on the company’s employee count, but the firm reported having just over 250 in a survey submitted to The Washington Post late last year.
That would mean the company’s planned new hires should more than double the size of the company’s local employment base from the beginning of 2016 — a huge influx of coveted technology jobs for one of the region’s wealthiest business hubs. The county’s economic-incentive programs require APT to create 54 new jobs by July 2018, an additional 63 by July 2019 and a total of 368 new jobs over the next five years.