Crystal City will soon be the home to dozens of early stage technology companies, housed in the just-opened Crystal Tech Fund coworking space.
Located on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, the $50 million Crystal Tech Fund — founded by Paul Singh, an early partner in the venture capital firm 500 Startups – provides office space to companies while also giving each of them significant capital investments and entrepreneurial mentorship.
The fund’s office space opened this week with six companies inside, and partner Brooke Salkoff said the floor — which has an acre of space — can fit up to 30 or 40 companies. The idea isn’t to bring in new startups and be an incubator or accelerator, she said — the startups eligible for space must already have an average of $1 million in annual revenue.
“These startups need more money in order to grow,” Salkoff said. “We fund startups to scale nationwide, and it’s scalable because once they grow, there’s more space around Crystal City.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D) toured the space this morning and Gov. Terry McAuliffe will do the same tomorrow morning, meeting the companies, some of whom are D.C.-area natives and others that moved to Crystal City from other tech hotbeds like Austin, Texas. Warner was briefed on the concept by Singh and Vornado/Charles E. Smith President Mitchell Shear. Vornado contributed $10 million in investment capital as well as the space.
“The combination that’s taking place here is the kind of thing I want to see all over Virginia,” Warner told a group of reporters. “I think Crystal City is being remade. If we could create a tech entrepreneur hotbed here, that would be great for Virginia.”
Among the space’s first tenants are Power Supply, a platform that allows chefs to deliver healthy meals directly to customers, and SupplyHog, an e-commerce platform for contractors. Warner, a former tech investor and one of the founders of Nextel, asked each company to give him “an elevator pitch.”
“We’re going to find the best companies from around the world,” Singh said, “and bring them to Virginia.”
Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called the Orange Line corridor in Arlington “the core of startups in Washington” during a Q&A with entrepreneurs in Rosslyn today (Thursday).
Warner spoke to several dozen attendees at ÜberOffices (1400 Key Blvd) as part of “Startup Across America” Day, focusing on ways to boost the local startup economy, which has been a driver of job growth in the area.
Warner suggested the local and state governments provide discounts on rent and incentives to preserve the startup community in Arlington. He also spoke against over-regulation of crowdfunding and in favor of additional funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.
During the wide-ranging talk, Warner addressed several other issues facing entrepreneurs and young people — a group that is overlapping more and more in Arlington — such as Bitcoin, entitlement reform and the national debt.
“You guys are up a creek,” Warner said. The national debt of “$17 trillion is a big number, even for the United States.”
Members of the audience asked questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and how Big Data has changed political campaigns. Warner, who was a co-founder of Nextel and a founder of Columbia Capital, a venture capitalist firm in Alexandria, said the young, tech-savvy generation has better answers to the new technology questions, even from a policy standpoint, than he or his colleagues in Congress do.
“This is the future of the economy,” Warner said. “[Entrepreneurs] are the future employers of the region. I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me.”
The issue Warner focuses most on in the Senate is the budget, and when one of the audience members asked him about the budget, he spread his arms wide, smiled, and said, “thank you for asking me that question.” He then delved in to how the U.S. accumulated its deficit, citing Bush-era tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan funded on credit, additional funds into entitlements and longer life expectancy.
“Medicare and Social Security are great programs,” Warner said, “but the math doesn’t work anymore.”
Warner, a moderate Democrat, had a few nuggets of advice for the crowd on how they can personally try improve national politics.
“If you’re frustrated with politics, don’t vote for anyone who signs one of those stupid pledges,” he said, acknowledging both parties. “Turn off Fox News and MSNBC, they both lie.”
Warner spoke in favor of reforming congressional redistricting by making it a process independent of politics. Politically driven redistricting is at least partially responsible for the current hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill, he said.
Warner also encouraged the audience to vote across the aisle on issues they believe in — voting for Republicans who aren’t opposed to raising taxes and Democrats who are open to entitlement reform.
Closing the discussion, Warner encouraged the crowd of mostly 20- and 30-somethings to contribute to the Commonwealth by building successful businesses here.
“Make a whole lot of money and stay in Virginia,” he said, smiling. “Don’t even think about moving to D.C.”
McAuliffe and Warner will “will launch McAuliffe’s Arlington campaign and roll out his plan to strengthen Virginia’s K-12 education systems in order to prepare Virginia’s students and workforce for the jobs of tomorrow and grow the Commonwealth’s economy,” according to a media advisory.
The event will take place at George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.
McAuliffe fell to 10 points behind Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in a Washington Post poll published over the weekend.
Following word last week that ports outside of Virginia were being considered for the commissioning, the delegation wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, saying that it would a “mistake” to commission the Arlington anywhere other than Commonwealth.
“We applaud the Navy’s responsiveness and decision to commission the USS Arlington in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the delegation said in a statement today. “Commissioning the ship in Virginia is the appropriate way to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the thousands of local police officers, fire fighters, Pentagon employees, emergency first responders and all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.”
The delegation includes Rep. Jim Moran, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Mark Warner and other Virginia lawmakers.