There was a time when Washington’s tech sector was dominated by three big names—MicroStrategy, LivingSocial, Blackboard. But as those companies split apart or morphed into something other than the juggernauts they once were, they gave way to firms with names like Cofense, EverFi, EdgeConneX—hopeful, hip, made-up words that suggest something fresh and new on the scene. Look closer, though, and you’ll see that the old titans are very much there in this new landscape: Sid Banerjee at Clarabridge. Andrew Rosen at Interfolio. Sanju Bansal at Hunch Analytics. Timothy Chi at WeddingWire. Susan Tynan at Framebridge. All are alumni of those Big Three.
What’s also new is that none of the aforementioned companies are dependent on Washington’s best-known buyer of tech, the federal government. As the DC technology industry has expanded, it has diversified. Today it’s increasingly common for local start-ups not to depend on the government at all, instead getting into the kind of business that would be equally at home in Silicon Valley—things such as SocialCode’s “audience intelligence software,” which helps big brands better leverage social media, or Alarm.com’s connected, smart-home devices.