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Andrew Lustig: Mid Atlantic Business Technology Group | Business

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Andrew Lustig: Mid Atlantic Business Technology Group
Business, People
Andrew Lustig: Mid Atlantic Business Technology Group

Andrew Lustig is a partner at the Cooley Business department, and heads the Mid Atlantic Business Technology Group. Andrew specializes in mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and is responsible for the representation of high growth technology  companies operating in both the public and private sectors. He is also the founder and board member of MissionLink, an exclusive, CEO-only organization that fosters collaboration, promotes access and opportunities for companies that focus on defense and national security missions. Andrew recently sat down with us to discuss his exceptional career, a meteoric rise that has garnered him regional and national attention, the major challenges that the public sector is currently facing, and what is being done to remedy the hurdles that face our government

Tell us bit about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to be a lawyer? How long have you been with Cooley?
I am married and have three great kids − Luke (8), Haley (6) and Faith (5). My father worked for the State Department, so I spent a good portion of my childhood living in Latin America. We permanently moved back to Virginia right before I entered middle school. I went to the University of Virginia for undergrad and William & Mary for law school. I joined Cooley’s Reston office in February 2000. I am a corporate partner and currently head up our business and technology group for the mid-Atlantic region. I specialize in helping high-growth companies achieve successful exits. From a practice standpoint, I specialize in seed financings, venture capital, private equity and mergers and acquisitions transactions, and my clients range from start-ups to middle market and later-stage multinational companies. From an industry standpoint, I have a particular expertise in working with national security focused technology companies that sell to both the commercial and federal markets.

Did you have a mentor, or someone you looked to for guidance or inspiration?
I have had−and continue to have−some terrific mentors at Cooley. Th e two guys that have mentored me from the time I first joined Cooley, and who continue to be great resources for me today, are Joe Conroy and Mike Lincoln. Joe and Mike founded our Reston office. Joe is now the CEO of the firm, and Mike has built an amazing practice and has become a titan in the local technology market. Th ey both have taught me a lot about the dedication that it takes to build a successful practice.

What are some of the biggest tech challenges the government is facing?
One of the biggest tech challenges the government is facing involves cyber security and figuring out how to best protect against cyber attacks that seek to either exploit our data or disrupt the functionality of our technology systems (i.e., a denial of service attack). The number, frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks have increased dramatically in the last few years.

THERE IS GROWING TECHNOLOGY COMMUNITY HERE THAT IS FUELED BY A POOL OF TALENTED ENTREPRENEURS

Meanwhile, we have become more and more dependent on placing our data in the cloud, automating our infrastructure and using mobile devices to communicate and to access our mission critical data, which makes us much more vulnerable to cyber attacks. One of the key challenges for the government will be to find the right balance between the need for convenience, speed and mobility when it comes to accessing our data and communicating versus the need to secure and protect our networks and information.

Another challenge our government is working hard to solve relates to big-data analytics. There are almost unfathomable amounts of data that are now accessible to the government through the Internet, social media and video. The challenge for the government is not only to collect, decipher and analyze that data but also to find ways to turn that data into information that the government can actually act upon to make us safer. In many ways, the government is trying to prevent the next 9/11 by finding a needle in a haystack, but the haystack is exponentially larger than it ever has been before and is growing by the second.

Government contracting has sustained the region during the economic downturn. It’s no big secret that the federal government will be cutting back on spending soon. How will that affect the opportunities that we have here in the Metropolitan area?
There is no question that the cutbacks will have an impact on some of the less mission-critical programs and that many local government contractors will lose work and revenues as a result of the cutbacks. However, I also firmly believe that there will always be a need and a market for businesses that have the capabilities to help support the government’s missioncritical priorities. Many of these priorities involve capitalizing on innovative technologies that are equally valuable to the commercial sector (i.e., data analytics, secure mobility, network security, cloud computing, etc.).

This is important because companies with the ability to cross-sell their technologies into both the federal and commercial markets have more viable pathways to success and typically trend towards higher valuations as a result.

Consequently, these kinds of companies have the potential to attract a lot of financing and acquisition related activity. The D.C. metro area is very well-positioned to support these kinds of companies because there is a vibrant and growing technology community here that is fueled by a pool of talented entrepreneurs, technologists and software engineers (many of whom come from the government labs and have a deep understanding of those mission-critical technology needs). We continue to see positive trends in the technology marketplace that bear this out. For example, we have seen a significant increase in the number of local technology startups that have entered the market in the last six months offering innovative solutions to these federal priorities. We are also seeing more financing activity this quarter than we did at this time last year and a lot of activity in the local mergers and acquisitions marketplace.

Business, People