News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Reston's Vibrant Economy Part 10: IPOs, Venture Funds, and a Farewell to the F-Word

Once again, it's time to pull the Boxter out of your carport or your perpetually open garage, because it's time to go back to the crazy, go-go days of the late 1990s!

One of those hip, late 90s venture capital funds, no doubt run by guys with ponytails and black turtlenecks, invested $7 million in Reston's Avail Media Inc., which sounds like it has something to do with video on demand (cough cough hotel room porn cough cough).

Meanwhile, Reston's hottest soon-to-be IPO is NVR Inc.... a home building firm. Good timing, that!

Reston's ICO Communications is at the Consumer Electronics Show, pitching a service that uses a combination of cellular and satellite technology to bring TV to your car. Watching Judge Judy while zipping along the Beltway at 60 miles an hour -- what could possibly go wrong? The service will be up and running as soon as their satellite launches, so watch for a plume of smoke shooting up from Golf Course Island sometime soon.

A company called CRG West bought a 285,000-square-foot data center on Sunrise Valley Drive. It basically sits right on top of the Internet's main pipe or series of tubes or whatever, meaning people inside will be able to pull up this site 0.0345 seconds faster. Yay!

As if moving to Kansas isn't bad enough, Sprint Nextel is facing a lawsuit over reduced retiree benefits. Those $4.99 corn fritter buffets in Overland Park will keep those checks going a lot further, though. But on the bright side, while Sprint Nextel's business is tanking faster than positive comments at a school redistricting meeting, they're doing gangbuster business... south of the border!

The Reston, Va.-based company's clever strategy focuses on building networks in big Latin American cities where the region's business elite congregate. NII rarely bothers to cover wider swathes of the country, beyond transportation corridors, since in rural areas the people tend to be poor.

Another component of its success: traffic jams. The company cites snarled roads as a big reason its customers have so much time to chat on their phone.
Yeah, totally different from the states, isn't it?

Sallie Mae named former bank executive Anthony P. Terracciano its new chairman, replacing trash-talking Albert L. Lord, whose use of the F-word sent the stock tanking in December. Lord is staying on as vice chairman and chief executive, so there's still hope for those boring investor calls! Or at least it'll help keep people's minds off that pesky Ed Department investigation or that lawsuit charging it steered minority students toward more expensive loans. Or that planned $3 billion stock offering. Or... well, you get the drift.

At least they're not moving to Kansas.

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