The countdown is on for a new episode of The Friday Nooner tomorrow at noon for a half-hour. You can watch and comment live on LinkedIn as well as Facebook and YouTube; the video will also be available afterward at those same links. Fully refreshed (we’re told) by the show’s summer hiatus, Joe and Pete will break down the week in tech in the Triangle and beyond. We’ll also welcome guest Keith Washo, one of the organizers of the Startup Summit event scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22. You won’t want to miss it!
The once-every-10-years national census has become the stuff of nightmares for privacy advocates, what with the nationwide collection of information that by design and necessity is “personally identifiable.” That’s why the Census Bureau turned to some of the top privacy experts in the world—including a trio of academics from Duke (Ashwin Machanavajjhala), UMass Amherst (Gerome Miklau) and Colgate (Michael Hay)—to keep that data safe. The trio has now turned that work into the Durham-HQ’d startup Tumult Labs, which offers data privacy solutions based on their ground-breaking research to private companies and public agencies.
TechWire’s Chantal Allam recognized the end of Black Business Month with a three-part series on Black angel investors. Among the local voices she shares are two that we’ve featured before in GrepBeat: Greg Boone, who’s had a hand in three successful exits; and Bill Spruill, the CEO of Raleigh’s Global Data Consortium. Given that only 1% of venture capital has been going to Black founders, the rise of Black angel investors is one trend that could help address that imbalance. Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Back In The Game
Sidney Hinton, who retired three years ago as the CEO of Wake Forest-based electricity microgrid builder PowerSecure, is back in the game with a new startup, Raleigh-based Utility Innovation Holdings. Though Sidney was circumspect with details in his conversation with TBJ, the company has raised $2M and will focus on energy storage, including cybersecurity for the electric grid. The startup already has customers, which include utilities and Fortune 500 firms.
Wake Forest-based startup Toggle Book Factory has raised $120K according to TechWire. Toggle offers a child-centered interactive book design platform, which allows kids to create a personalized book that is then automatically shipped. Founder and CEO Marc Mailand has a background in both television and video games.
Fast-growing online insurance startup Policygenius added a top executive and continues to hire like crazy, including at its second HQ in Durham. The company named Matthew Mak its head of revenue operations fresh off his stint at Better, which I initially read as “Butter,” but now that I know the truth I can’t spread the multiple butter puns I’d planned to milk. TechWire has more details.
Avaya, which moved its HQ to the Triangle last year, has made a “strategic investment” in Journey.ai, a Denver-based startup that uses biometric technology to verify identity. Good, because the lock on my front door has been sticking lately (the humidity?) and it’s time for one of those eyeball-activated locks that I feel like the movies have promised for decades now. TechWire has more details but not the financial terms, alas, because they weren’t disclosed.
Still At It
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is taking aim at Apple. The tech giant is trying to make nice with some of its opponents—or nice enough to avoid lawsuits and/or an antitrust case from the government—by allowing companies such as Spotify and Netflix to direct customers to their own websites to make payments rather than having to do them via the App Store, where Apple takes its pound of flesh. (OK, a fee of up to 30%.) That’s one of the main issues in Epic’s recent court battle with Apple, for which a judicial opinion is expected soon. But Tim and Epic, predictably, aren’t at all mollified by Apple’s compromise plan, which only applies to a narrow universe of developers. Tim calls it a "divide and conquer" plan.
This comes just a few days after Epic Games cheered a new law in South Korea that would ban Apple and Google from forcing developers to use their payment systems. Stay tuned!
Ode To A Scribe
Longtime TechWire writer Allan Maurer is recovering from an illness so the publication has reached out to folks about Allan’s outsized impact on the Triangle startup scene over the years. Among the first to respond was Spiffy CEO and Tweener Czar Scot Wingo, who sent in a long and quite affecting story of their early interactions. Let’s just say that the Star Wars universe plays a big role.
If you’re looking for coworking space, you can always play it safe and glom on to a big chain like WeWork. And hey, they’re perfectly nice. But if you’re looking for something more local, gritty and—dare we say it—cool, then the soon-to-open Durham Bottling Company may be for you. Smashing Boxes CEO Nick Jordan bought the space at 506 Ramseur Street a few years back as a new company HQ but always had grander plans for the 16,000+ square feet. Enter Durham Bottling Company (DBC), which might sound like a new nightlife concept but is in fact a coworking and event space with a stated mission to create a more inclusive and diverse community. DBC offers all the usual amenities you’d expect (free coffee, hot desks, private offices, etc.) but also has a sister nonprofit entity that will help stage a monthly event series. You can get on the waitlist here.
GrepBeat partner Clarkston Consulting is still giving away copies of the book by its CEO Tom Finegan. It will award one book each day through Sept. 15 to a lucky person who signs up at this link. The first winner on Sept. 1 was GrepBeat subscriber (and former story subject) Chris Bingham. The book is Amplifiers: How Great Leaders Magnify the Power of Teams, Increase the Impact of Organizations and Turn Up the Volume on Positive Change.
We also want to shout-out Cherry Bekaert, a past GrepBeat sponsor, for its inclusion on TBJ’s Best Places to Work list.
Guess where Pete is and (maybe) win a GrepBeat mug!
This week’s winner is Taylor Roberts, who correctly noted that I was at Raleigh’s Layered Croissanterie. Here’s Taylor: “I’ll celebrate with coffee, and Asher here will celebrate with a treat! I’m an extremely happy husband and a doting father who’s been calling Raleigh home for 29 of my 47 years. I love being involved in the community, and I’m wildly fortunate to work at Vaco with a team that truly cares about each other and the people we serve. Solving problems with technology has never felt so good!” Congrats, Taylor! You too, Asher.