1776 and Benjamin's Desk are negotiating a merger: report - Technical.ly DC

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Sep. 21, 2017 12:56 pm

1776 and Benjamin’s Desk are negotiating a merger: report

The Washington Business Journal cites several sources who say a deal is imminent between the D.C.–based incubator and Philly coworking company. Here's what we know so far.
At an event at 1776 in D.C.

At an event at 1776 in D.C.

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

According to a report in the Washington Business Journal, Philly-based coworking company Benjamin’s Desk is in talks with D.C. incubator 1776 about a merger or acquisition deal.

Citing several sources, the report describes terms in which the 1776 name would still be used. 1776’s platform software platform Union, which connects startups and incubators, would be spun off into a separate company. The deal is not yet complete, per the report.

However, 1776 CEO Evan Burfield denied such talks.

“We’re always exploring different ways we can expand 1776’s mission, but there is no imminent acquisition of 1776,” Burfield told the WBJ. 1776 declined to comment on Thursday.

A source told our sister site Technical.ly Philly that the deal is not an acquisition, but a merger of the two companies.

Here’s what Benjamin’s Desk co-CEO Anthony Maher told Technical.ly Philly:

“Yes, we’re having talks with 1776, just like we’ve had them for the past two years, but they’re around how to help entrepreneurs and things like the Challenge Cup,” Maher said. He invited “reporters making wild allegations” to come to Philly on Oct. 10 where he, co-CEO Jennifer Maher and 1776’s Burfield will be “on stage” ready to answer questions from anyone.

It’s unclear what would happen to other locations of 1776, such as in Dubai and New York, where managing director Rachel Haot recently stepped down, according to our sister site Technical.ly Brooklyn.

There’s precedent for the two companies working together, as Benjamin’s Desk formed a “strategic alliance” with 1776 on a new venture called Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center powered by 1776 in May. The Philly-based center is designed to provide local companies to a broader global network.

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The deal would have big implications for D.C., where 1776 was founded and remains a central hub for the tech community, whether housing companies, hosting events or through its programming. The resources for startups have started to look different recently. The partnership with Benjamin’s Desk came just after 1776 graduated its first “Startup Cohort,” which is a formal program designed to get companies “investor ready.” Similar programs centered around health and transportation have rolled out since, which are helping startups connect with larger companies.

While the deal isn’t done, we’ll be watching to see what impacts it has on #dctech.

Companies: 1776
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