Technology

Columbia’s BigBear.ai takes flight with a $900m, decades-long US Air Force contract

Barely 90 days into her term of office as BigBear.ai’s CEO, Mandy Long already boasts a handful of significant wins. Perhaps chief among them is the 10-year, $900 million contract the cybersecurity firm recently announced it had secured with the U.S. Air Force.

The Columbia, Maryland-HQ’d company’s announcement of the contract described it as a indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) agreement, which means that the award recipient can deliver an indefinite number of services within a fixed period of time. Long described it as a “contract vehicle,” for which BigBear.ai went through a rigorous process that resulted in 92 vendors being given the opportunity to service the Air Force through this avenue.

The former IBM executive, who is based in the Chicago metropolitan area, added that the size and structure of this IDIQ contract reflects the company that BigBear.ai became after being public via a company takeover process for special purposes in 2021.

“What we’ve been working on since that moment, and we’re still actively working on, is: How do we get — for our size, shape, who we are today — on contract car, like a prime [contractor], that matches our size so we can compete for task orders and move the ball forward at that level?” she told Technical.ly. “So I think of this as an affirmation of who we are. It is representative of the size of the organization that we are, the skills that we bring to the table.”

The company’s size can be gauged by both the number of workers it employs — over 600, according to Long — and the seven physical U.S. locations it maintains in addition to its Columbia headquarters, including three in Virginia.

Long emphasized that according to the IDIQ model, the Pentagon-based Air Force has not yet identified exactly what services it wants from BigBear.ai. That said, the company has worked with the military agency for over a decade; Long credited such colleagues as SVPs Greg Goldwater and Tom Tschuor, as well as Chief Proposal Officer Jessica Mansilla, for helping make the contract and relationship possible.

“We have a responsibility to continue to play a role in supporting our nation’s security.”

Mandy Long, BigBear.ai

BigBear.ai specializes in a range of artificial intelligence-powered data analytics, cyber security and related solutions for public and private clients across various industries. While the Air Force-specific service requests remain undetermined, Long said she felt BigBear.ai was well positioned given the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats and infrastructure issues the company can help customers solve. She cited the work BigBear.ai has already done with clients such as space technology company Redwire, with whom BigBear.ai developed cyber tools used in the development of a Department of Defense sponsored satellite communications program.

“We now live in a society of global geopolitical turmoil and disruption that is, I would actually say, unprecedented in my time in the professional world,” she said. “The most important thing to recognize, too, that I honestly got a thorough education in my short window here, is that we have a responsibility to continue to play a role in supporting our nation’s security. Our adversaries are paying attention, and they’re also investing .”

BigBear.ai followed up the contract announcement with another noting that it received a 25 million private location — in other words, the company is selling nearly 14,000 shares of its stock in a deal that does not require a public offering. Long said this private placement “addresses a liquidity challenge” she encountered when she came on board as CEO back in October, which was just under two months after the company underwent a “restructuring.” Account Manager Edward Lin of the Merritt Group, a PR firm that works with BigBear.ai, did not immediately provide a number of employees laid off through this restructuring.

Regardless of these past challenges, Long noted that the company has survived them and is now in a stronger position to continue serving customers. While she can’t predict the company’s immediate future, she noted that lucrative defense market and its needs allow BigBear.ai to weather a recession that could hurt other businesses.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for companies to get through this extremely challenging period,” Long said. “But one area that is a critical, indisputable area of ​​need is investment [in] and what we’re going to do to strengthen what we have from a defense and intelligence standpoint.”

“We have some of the most formidable technology and high-end AI, hyper-tailored AI, as well as full-spectrum cyber work,” she added of BigBear.ai. “It’s time to use it.”

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