We hope to see you tonight from 5-7 p.m. at Bull McCabe’s in downtown Durham for the GrepBeat Happy Hour. Your first round will be courtesy of our sponsor, Jurassic Capital. You’ll also have a chance to win swag by answering Pete’s still-to-be-written trivia questions, of which he is unduly proud. Please register so we get a sense of numbers.
Tonight’s Happy Hour will end early enough for everyone to get a good night of rest before tomorrow’s Friday Nooner. (Though if you want to stay out all night, that’s cool too; we’re not the boss of you.) Pete, Joe and Jackie will welcome guest Cara Borenstein, the Co-Founder and CEO of Stashpad, a virtual notebook for software developers and a multiple-time GrepBeat story subject. You can watch live at noon on LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook, or catch afterward on those platforms or it its podcast form.
ZRO To Hero
Tlee Cooper has multiple very good reasons to move herself and her startup, ZROverse, from Baltimore to Durham. Last week, she participated in Google For Startups’ Black Founders Exchange program at American Underground. ZROverse is also currently taking part in the 16-week Innovate Durham program that pairs startups with a City of Durham or Durham County department to test, scale and innovate new ideas and technology. ZROverse’s Metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS) tech is creating digital cities—virtual worlds where real-life businesses can operate and people can learn skills like coding that they can then offer to others.
Raleigh-based Green Places is jump-starting its rapid rise with $4M in new seed funding, the startup announced today. We first wrote about Green Places—which helps small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) become more sustainable—shortly after it launched last summer. We also recognized the company on our first Startups To Watch list last fall and welcomed Founder and CEO Alex Lassiter on the Friday Noonerthis June.
The current $4M seed round was led by Silicon Valley-based Felicis with participation from Durham’s Bull City Venture Partners and local angels including Levitate Founder/CEO Jes Lipson, Pendo CEO Todd Olson and Spiffy CEO Scot Wingo. Jes—who also happens to be Alex’s neighbor—led a $1M pre-seed round last summer, which our sources tell us included GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy. Alex was previously the co-founder of Atlanta-based Gather, which was acquired by Vista Equity Partners—a fact that certainly hasn’t hurt his efforts to raise money for Green Places.
Boston-based PE firm Charlesbank Capital Partners has acquired a majority interest in Raleigh-based photo industry startup ImageQuix, which focuses on software for school photos—think annual photo days, senior portraits, sports teams photos, etc.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of ImageQuix before today, but I think I’ve discovered why. In November, 2018, ImageQuix received an investment (we’re betting it was for a majority share) from Silicon Valley-based ASG, which buys and grows SaaS companies before selling them again. In other words, they’re a PE firm, and they also acquired two other photo business—PhotoLynx and Capturelife—that they combined with ImageQuix, and have now sold their share in the whole shebang to Charlesbank. Did you get all that? TechWire has more info.
We’ve mentioned 321 Coffee—which employs adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities—several times, including for its location within Pendo’s new HQ that is free to Pendo team members. While 321 Coffee is up to three locations (with a fourth slated for downtown Durham in December) it has heretofore roasted its coffee beans at other company’s facilities. Now, with the help of a $150K grant from Lenovo and $50K from nonprofit EngageNC, 321 Coffee is building its own roasting facility that will include tech to make it fully accessible for employees with disabilities. TBJ has more info.
Pitchbook’s Q3 report is the latest temperature check on the VC market. And while we’re not doctors, our diagnosis is: the patient looked better last year, sure, but is still fairly healthy in the big picture and just needs to stop eating so much darn peanut butter even if it’s all-natural. (OK, that last suggestion might just be for me.) TechWire talked to some local investors including Justin Wright-Eakes (Oval Park Capital), Tim McLoughlin (Cofounders Capital), Karen LeVert (Pappas Ventures) and active angel Scot Wingo (Tweener Fund) with the overall verdict being that we needn’t “wring our hands” about the current situation.
Change continues at Red Hat with a shakeup in its C-suite. Carolyn Nash will move from CFO to COO while longtime IBM veteran Robert Leibrock will join Red Hat as CFO. The move comes shortly after the announcement that IBM and Red Hat will be combining their storage businesses, with the Red Hatters in that unit officially becoming part of IBM. So one could read this current nugget as another sign that Red Hat is becoming more IBM-y, which can happen when IBM ponies up $34B to take over. See TBJ and TechWire for more.
One line that caught my eye in the TBJ story: after this move, only four members of Red Hat’s 11-person corporate leadership are based at its Raleigh HQ. Ouch.
Yesterday morning NC TECH released the most recent Tech Innovation Index, a study it has commissioned on the top 100 metros across the country to see how North Carolina stacks up. The Durham-Chapel Hill MSA (metropolitan statistical area) ranked 6th and Raleigh-Cary checked in at No. 8. Elsewhere in the state, Charlotte was 28th, Wilmington 54th and Greenville 73rd. TechWire has more info on the report, plus a Q&A with Ted Abernathy, the managing partner of Economic Leadership, which compiled the data for the report.
NC TECH also posted a recap of its Summit for Women in Tech, which was held from Sept. 22-23 in New Bern.
Simpliworks, a Raleigh-based startup that we first profiled in June, 2020, is hosting a Back To The Future-themed launch event next Friday, Oct. 21, from 1:30-4 p.m. at Boxcar Bar & Arcade in Raleigh. Simpliworks helps solopreneurs, side hustlers and small businesses sell online more effectively. Find more info and register for the free event here. (Speaking of Back To The Future, if a new version was released today and looked back the same distance as the original, the “past” section would be set in 1992. If you are of a certain age, that will likely bum you out.)
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