A young brand with a lengthy history
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations at Leidos, Insights will be taking a closer look over the coming weeks at some of the key moments in the company's history. For a deeper dive into our past, we invite you to download and read our new eBook.
In astrology, a pair of twins represents the Gemini zodiac sign. Project Gemini, therefore, was an appropriate internal name for the plan to split Science Applications International Corporation. The storied firm that Dr. J. Robert Beyster founded in 1969 was to be divided into two separate companies.
Discussions to split SAIC began in February 2012 and progressed quickly. The Board of Directors voted to further evaluate the split in August, and company executives made the plan public later that month.
At the time, SAIC handled $6 billion in prime contracts and had more than $11 billion in gross revenue. The company was doing well, so any missteps during the separation process threatened to distract employees or cost SAIC major contracts — in fact, pursuing relevant contracts was already proving tricky.
There were many instances pre-split where SAIC passed on contracts because of organizational conflicts of interests. Typically, this involved one SAIC division having to let a project go because another division had already provided another service or solution to the same customer.
In explaining the split, former Leidos Chairman and CEO John Jumper said, “The whole idea was for both entities to gain access to additional markets, to expand, and to decrease our cost structure. We can completely remove our conflict of interest, which for Leidos opens opportunities of about $37 billion a year that we didn’t have before.”
Of the two entities, the new SAIC was going to keep the name but be a spin-off of the original SAIC, complete with a new CEO and a mostly new Board. It would start as a $4 billion firm focused on providing IT and other services for government customers. The other entity would be comprised of the remaining core of the original SAIC, keeping the existing CEO and most of the existing Board. That parent company was re-branded as Leidos and began as a $6 billion company focusing on innovative technologies in sectors such as defense, intelligence, health, and engineering. In addition, Leidos retained the rights to the original SAIC's history as part of the split.
The split provided both companies with greater market share and created more growth potential for employees. Investors also benefitted by gaining a better understanding into each company and the distinct markets in which they operated.
Melissa Koskovich, senior vice president and director of Communications and Marketing for Leidos, was a key member of the team that worked on Project Gemini. According to Koskovich, the team approached the project with the mindset that it was creating two world-class companies that would both last another 50 years. Thanks to that work, Leidos came out of the split a strong company, able to address customer needs quickly while staying on the leading edge of technological innovation.
On Sept. 27, 2013, the split became official, and the newly formed Leidos began building its brand and shaping its own corporate identity. In the short time since, the company has embraced its unique story, one that blends the proud performance history of an established government contractor with the exuberance and optimism of a nimble technological startup.