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A look back at #dctech over the last decade

In celebration of's 10th birthday, we took a deep dive into the archives to look at how the tech scene has transformed and progressed in the District over the last decade.

About 500 tech enthusiasts gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library for a DC Tech Meetup. (Photo by Lalita Clozel)
It’s a cause for celebration: is celebrating its 10th birthday this year.

Even though DC is only half that old – having launched in July 2014 with this post from Technically Media CEO Christopher Wink – we wanted to take a second to look back at the last decade of tech right here in the District.

So, where was the D.C. tech scene in 2009? From research and doing a deep dive in our archive, it’s safe to say D.C.’s tech scene was growing. AOL cofounder Steve Case surely saw the District’s tech potential to rise up. Wink agreed with Case and went as far to say D.C.’s tech scene was actually built around AOL’s rise in the 90s. At the beginning of this decade, new efforts to bring the community together were being organized. Among the leaders was Peter Corbett, iStrategyLabs founder and CEO, who spearheaded the rise of DC Tech Meetup and Digital Capital Week. So let’s start there, where exactly were technologists and entrepreneurs convening to spark these startup ideas?

Since 2011 DC Tech Meetup has been convening technologists, entrepreneurs, investors and the broader innovation community regularly to learn and share. Each meetup usually has a theme with demos from local companies and an open mic portion followed by a networking happy hour. In 2012, DC Tech Meetup was recognized by Inc. Magazine for having more than 1, 100 people RSVP and 700 people show up to a meetup.

Coworking spaces have emerged as a force but since there’s more than 20 spaces to discuss in D.C. proper, let’s just chat about the rise of 1776 DC. 1776 came to D.C. in 2013 as a central hub for the startup scene. The prominent incubator and coworking space often hosted events, housed 45 startups and launched its own startup accelerator during its time. In 2017, it merged with Philadelphia-based Benjamin’s Desk, spreading the brand around the Mid-Atlantic. The company temporarily closed the D.C. location on Dec. 31, 2018 but no fear, 1776 DC will be back, we just don’t know when yet.

Tech, Rebalanced, formerly Tech Lady Hackathon, has been offering events on coding, civic hacking and other technical skills since 2013 to get more underrepresented genders and sexes (women, trans and non-binary folks) into tech. The organization rebranded to Tech, Rebalanced last year to become more inclusive to the D.C. tech community.

DCFemTech is a consortium of organizations supporting women in tech that was launched in 2014 by Stephanie Nguyen and Shana Glenzer. The organization’s members include DC Web Women, Tech, Rebalanced, Women Who Code DC and more. DCFemTech’s leadership team formerly included prominent #dctech leader Jessica Bell who is now living her life out as a digital nomad traveling abroad. For 2018-19, a team of leaders are organizing events and outreach.

Even after Fosterly ceased operations after seven years in October 2018, the organization was known for managing a resource blog for entrepreneurs, connecting innovators and hosting open office hours and events to strengthen the startup ecosystem in the DMV region. Fosterly founder Adam Zuckerman took the organization from a series of coffeeshop meetups to an online directory for entrepreneurs to partnering with companies over the years.

Though there’s been much movement in the tech scene over the past 10 years, from startup launches, acquisitions, new funding and more, let’s highlight a few companies, their rise and major moves:

Marketplace for coupons and rebates LivingSocial was founded in 2007 and after talking to some #dctech leaders, this is the No. 1 company they remember having a presence 10 years ago. The company raised a $5 million Series A funding round and at its peak in 2011, the company was worth as much as $6 billion. But after more than 700 layoffs between 2014 and 2016, LivingSocial was acquired by Chicago-based Groupon in October 2016.

WeddingWire was founded in 2005 by Timothy Chi, who was also a founding member of Blackboard. The company took the tech scene by storm when it raised a $5.5 million Series A funding round led by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The Chevy Chase, Md.-based online marketplace helping engaged couples get connected with wedding service providers continued to climb 10 years later with a $350 million investment last year from private equity firm Permir. During its time, WeddingWire has also acquired in a five-year partnership plan to boost the company’s share in the gay wedding market, USA Today reported.

The rise of FiscalNote came about when the company launched in 2013 and has only show progression since then. The Bethesda Md.-based company runs a legislative prediction platform. After raising a 1.2 million seed round in its first year, the company raised another $7 million in a Series A funding round led by Visionnaire Ventures in 2014. According to Crunchbase, the company has had successful funding rounds every year since its launch, except in 2017 when it didn’t have an active round. Since making its first acquisition of South Korea’s MyCandidate, the company has also acquired grassroots advocacy tool VoterVoice,  Brussel-based Shungham and CQ Roll Call.

Though Yelp wasn’t born here, it was a big deal in 2017 when the publicly-traded company expanded to include a 52,000-square-foot office in Penn Quarter. This move projected the creation of 500 new sales and marketing jobs in the District within the next five years.

And we can’t forget about half Amazon‘s second headquarters moving into Northern Virginia, how the education sector is gearing up for this and what this will mean for the D.C. tech workforce overall, but more to come on that as Amazon’s expected to bring 25, 000 tech jobs to the region. DC’s Top 10

To zone back in, here’s a list of our top 10 tech news stories over DC’s first five years:

  1. DC now has 2 options for chef-prepared meal delivery: San Francisco-based Munchery launches in D.C. The startup offers a rotating menu of dinner entrees, sides, kids meals and drinks that are prepared by company chefs, ordered ahead by the busy millennial/family and delivered directly to their doorstep.
  2. This crowdfunding platform for international aid is beefing with the Peace Corps: DonorSee doesn’t like the Peace Corps‘ focus on accountability. Here’s a “disruption” tale.
  3. 10 very real struggles of shooting a virtual reality movie: An American University grad student, Emiliano Ruprah, has made the first movie for VR headsets. Here’s how.
  4. Via is growing its ‘smarter shared rides’ coverage in DC: Via, a New York-born ridesharing service that launched in D.C. in August 2016 expands its ridesharing coverage.
  5. A startup in a corporate desert: Inside the Tysons Corner HQ of Capital One Digital: Meet the arm of financial giant Capital One that’s all about design thinking, wall gardens and shuffleboard.
  6. A coworking space for podcasters is opening in Georgetown: With its second location, Podcast Village is seeking to build a community of content creators and media enthusiasts.
  7. Inside The Hatchery, the AARP’s startup incubator: The organization known for lobbying on behalf of senior citizens is now building its own startups.
  8. DC biohackers and blockchainers take on HIV: Tristan Roberts tested a treatment for HIV by self-injecting. Next, Ascendance Biomedical plans to share over the blockchain. It’s being done outside the FDA‘s regulatory process, and a bioethicist has concerns.
  9. What happens when Uber moves offices? Some drivers don’t get the memo: As shown in Philly and now D.C., communicating with a huge, sprawling workforce of independent contractors can be a challenge.
  10. How 3 Deaf siblings, and a friend, created an ASL learning app: Meet Melissa, Matt, Megan and Tim, creators of The ASL App.
Companies: WeddingWire / Women Who Code DC / DC Web Women / DCFemTech / iStrategyLabs / 76 Forward / Amazon / FiscalNote / Fosterly / LivingSocial / Yelp

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