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David Zipper, the District’s director of business development and strategy who has overseen a strong push to make the city a major technology center, is leaving the mayor’s office to take on a senior role at the startup hub 1776.
Zipper has worked in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for four years and under two administrations, leading the business wing of that office as it’s worked to achieve Mayor Vince Gray‘s stated goal of making D.C. the biggest tech center on the East Coast. That target is still a ways off, but the city, through marketing and financial incentives, has succeeded in recent years in attracting and retaining tech businesses like Fortify, LivingSocial, and, most recently, 1776, a shared workspace for growing tech firms that opened on 15th Street NW in February.
“I think that the city’s made amazing strides in the past several years,” Zipper says of the progress toward Gray’s goal. “When you look at the shared workspaces that have popped up, the sheer number of events for entrepreneurs, the amount of venture capital, we’re moving up. I’m not saying we’re there, but the trajectory is a very positive one.”
Zipper will leave the city government after Thanksgiving and begin at 1776 in January. He’ll serve as managing director of a new project called 1776 Ventures, which will connect young firms with public-sector contacts and resources.
Zipper was partly responsible for a $200,000 city grant that helped get 1776 off the ground—-a connection he’s aware might prompt accusations of a revolving-door relationship. “I anticipate that question,” he says. “And the simple answer is that I’ve gone through the recusal process immediately when this opportunity became real. I sat down with [the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability] to make sure that everything I’m considering is entirely above board, and they gave me the green light.”
Having helped elevate D.C.’s private tech sector, Zipper wanted to get in on the action himself. “I think the long-term vision of 1776 is one that I’ve always been very attracted to,” he says. “And that’s really to be the place where the best entrepreneurs from around the world want to be.”
Logo via 1776