It's Official: Disruption is Now 1776
1776 officially announced Thursday afternoon, atop a Crystal City skyscraper, its acquisition of Disruption Corp, for an undisclosed amount. The announcement, made exactly two years after the launch of 1776 and Disruption separately, included Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who proclaimed “forget Silicon Valley, Crystal City is the hub of innovation.” 1776 will now take over Disruption and its $50M Crystal Tech Fund, expanding its reach into Northern Virginia and forging a partnership with Arlington County and Vornado, the real estate firm that’s been working to transform Crystal City. A new 1776 campus will open in Crystal City with Vornado’s help. 1776 also announced last week a new partnership with Montgomery County to give companies there access to 1776 resources.
1776 co-founder Evan Burfield, a native of the DC area, whose parents came for the announcement, said the vision is to create a regional hub of innovation, rather than each jurisdiction working separately. He says 1776, partly funded with a $200k DC government grant, has more than accomplished its original goal of connecting startups focused on education, energy, healthcare, and smart cities with resources. 1776 has also had a global reach with its Challenge Cup competition to find the best startups in the world.
Disruption and Crystal Tech Fund founder Paul Singh, also originally from the DC region and a 500 Startups founder, will be managing director of 1776’s Crystal City hub and will bring all of Disruption’s staff over, including former 500 Startups colleague George Kellerman, who moved from Silicon Valley last year. Paul says the decision to sell to 1776 came after realizing the two had similar goals. 1776 co-founder Donna Harris also says the presence in Crystal City brings 1776 closer to government resources like the Pentagon and other agencies that call Arlington home.
The announcement was a surprise to the DC tech community and many expressed confusion on social media over whether it’s good news or not. TandemNSI founder Jonathan Aberman, with colleague Mike Geersten, who recently joined Jonathan from DARPA, at Thursday’s announcement, says it creates a more central mass around companies innovating in the DC region and increases net resources for those companies. He’s expects that TandemNSI, an organization that works with the national security agencies to connect them with startups and garage inventors will partner with 1776 to help continue creating the ecosystem. Jonathan told us that TandemNSI is holding events in Boston and Silicon Valley this year at the request of its agency customers.
The announcement ended with a jubilant toast that included Arlington County Council members Libby Garvey, chairwoman Mary Hynes, Jay Fisette (behind the governor), Walter Tejada, and Vornado president Mitchell Schear.