With the last few days of 2017 passing us by, the DC Inno team has been feeling a bit nostalgic. So we’re taking a look back at some of the top stories to hit the D.C. tech and innovation scene this past year.
From Appian’s IPO to the closure of coding school The Iron Yard, it’s been a pretty busy year. Let’s take a look back at the top stories, in no particular order:
Appian starts trading on NASDAQ
Founded in 1999, Appian has spent the last nearly 20 years designing a platform that allows other companies to customize and create their own software programs. On May 25, the Reston, Va.-based software company debuted on the NASDAQ at $12 per share. As of close of market on Dec. 19, the stock was trading at $26.15 per share. Appian is now the only tech company in the D.C. market to debut on the American markets.
1776 merges with Benjamin’s Desk, UNION Spins Out
1776, the part-coworking group, incubator and investment fund, officially merged with Benjamin’s Desk in October in what was a highly anticipated move in D.C. tech. The duo met back in 2014 when Philadelphia-based Benjamin’s Desk join Startup Federation. They’ve since partnered on numerous Challenge Cup events and other initiatives. Now, the pair exist under the 1776 brand, with Benjamin’s Desk co-CEOs staying in the same position in the merged groups. 1776 co-founder Evan Burfield is the company’s executive chairman and the CEO of UNION, which spun out of 1776 in the merger.
In a lot of ways, the merger wasn’t unexpected. 1776 was no longer the company it once was when it launched in 2013, and a merger seemed inevitable. In 2013, the company launched in D.C. with the idea of being the center point for the D.C. metro area’s tech scene. Within four years, they had locations not only in D.C., but also in Brooklyn and Dubai, and they had launched an international software platform.
WeWork doubles down on D.C.
It’s been a big year for New York City-based co-working giant WeWork in the D.C. metro area. They upped their location count to 10, with the opening of their locations on H St. NE, in Navy Yard and in Tysons Corner, Va. In the same year, WeWork also strategically launched its Creator Awards series in Washington, D.C. The awards gave up a total of $1.5 million to local entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. Also, following its purchase of NYC-based coding school Flatiron School, the school announced they would be opening their second location in D.C. in early 2018.
“Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance takes on the “Rise of the Rest”
JD Vance joined D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution in March to oversee the “Rise of the Rest” program, which aims to invest in startups not found in San Francisco, New York City or Boston. After he joined, the program launched its sixth bus tour to visit cities in central Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and more. “Rise of the Rest” also closed a $150 million seed funding round with backing from top-tier entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt and more.
Coding school influx: The Iron Yard shuts down, new programs eye D.C.
It’s been a strange year for coding schools in the D.C. metro area. While The Iron Yard, arguably one of the top two programs in the region, shutdown all of its campuses in the summer, other programs started to plan their expansions in to the D.C. metro area. Boston-based Launch Academy opened their all-women program, Prism Shift, in Dupont Circle in October, and WeWork’s The Flatiron School plans to open in D.C. in early 2018.
D.C. area ramps up bid for Amazon’s second headquarters
Sure, this is a story that any tech hub could put on their end-of-year list, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The District government spent nearly $140,000 just compiling their bid, according to public records. That’s how badly they want the second headquarters. In September, Amazon opened up a bidding process for cities to land a location that would rival Amazon’s Seattle HQ both in terms of hiring numbers and in size it would take up. The District pitched four different sites for the headquarters and launched the #ObviouslyDC campaign.
SoftBank eyes D.C. startups for investments
It started with the investment in Arlington, Va.-based internet satellite company OneWeb, where SoftBank led a $1.2 billion funding round in January. In December, The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank would possibly be upping its investment in the startup by $500 million. In October, the SoftBank’s $100 billion “Vision Fund” led a $164 million round in mapping technology startup Mapbox.
EverFi lands the third largest edtech startup funding round
Washington, D.C.-based EverFi has a way of finding big name investors. This year, they attracted the eye of The Rise Fund, with investors like Bono and advisors including former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, for their $190 million Series D round — which is reportedly the third largest edtech round ever.
Eventbrite makes a local acquisition
Eventbrite’s acquisition of six-person, D.C.-based startup nvite might have seemed out of the blue. But, when the news of the acquisition came on March 31, it wasn’t so shocking for the nvite team. The two had a pretty healthy working relationship since nvite launched its events platform prototype, and the Eventbrite team would give them pointers on what to look out for when building. Now, all six employees from nvite are based at Eventbrite’s San Francisco headquarters.
The D.C. Council’s debate on Airbnb regulations
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) introduced a homesharing regulation bill aimed at limiting short-term rentals in the region. In this bill, D.C. hosts would have to register with the District before listing on Airbnb and limit hosts to only renting out properties which they actually live in. Will Burns, Airbnb Mid-Atlantic’s public policy director, chatted with DC Inno about the bill and the effect it would have on the startup’s presence in D.C. That bill is still being discussed by council members.