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Happy Tuesday!

Steve Klein, the former CEO and Co-Founder of (which was acquired by Atlassian in 2016), was the winning bidder for the “Pete” NFT for 0.075 Ether, which is about $160 the last time we checked. That amount will now be donated to the North Carolina Museum of Art. So thanks, Steve! We’ll have more on this down the road, but here's an explainer.
Of course, those of you who watched the latest Friday Nooner already knew that Steve now owns “Pete.” But don’t worry, you can still enjoy the heck out of the Friday Nooner despite that spoiler.
Now we need to look forward, specifically to the Greppys. See Item No. 1!

The Greppys

We’re proud to announce the inaugural Greppy Awards, aka The Greppys, which will be held virtually on Friday, April 23, at 12 Noon ET. (Register here.) Thanks to our sponsor, Dualboot Partners!
We’re asking readers to go vote for their top choice among the nominees (listed alphabetically) in the following five categories:
Best Small Smartup (1-10 employees): Blue Recruit, Courtroom5, Klearly, InsightFinder, Wrangle
Best Medium-Sized Startup (11-50 employees): Allstacks, LoanWell, Pattern Health, Reveal Mobile, Revibe Technologies
Best Large Startup (51+ employees): Pendo, Real Magic/Levitate, Pendo, Spiffy, Spoonflower
Most Impactful Individual: Robbie Allen, Jesse Lipson, Todd Olson, Joe Procopio, Scot Wingo
Best On-Campus Startup: Audacity Labs (Duke), Blooket (Duke), Extruo (NC State), Flux Hybrids (NC State), MUSE Biomedical (UNC), PLAY (NC Central), Vector Rideshare (UNC)
Of course, we all want an educated electorate. So we've put together a handy guide with brief descriptions of the nominees in each category. Please give it a quick read before casting your votes. Voting will remain open until Thursday, April 22, at 5pm ET.
These "Readers Choice" winners will be honored alongside the category champ chosen by our six-judge panel, which also generated the nominated companies/individuals in the first four categories. (The on-campus startups were nominated by the universities.) We’ll also be presenting a special award for Best Leveraging of Triangle Ecosystem Resources. Our Greppys page has all the info on judges, process, etc., but let's thank them here too: John Austin (NC IDEA), Tina Cochrane (Dualboot), Jan Davis (Angelic angel investor), Lister Delgado (IDEA Fund Partners), Sarah Leners (Bull City Venture Partners) and Tim McLoughlin (Cofounders Capital).
Now please register for the event, read about the nominees, and vote for the winners! And thanks again to our sponsor Dualboot, which can help with any/all of your development needs.


Epic Funder

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Epic Games has raised more money and is now worth a boatload. Actually, we’re going to keep going regardless of what you say, because you’re not the boss of us. Where were we; oh right, Cary’s Epic Games has raised another $1B, including $200M from Sony, in a deal that values the Fortnite maker at $28.7B. And just think how valuable Epic would be if it wasn't giving away billions of dollars worth of games! Actually CEO Tim Sweeney says that the free-to-play model is ultimately good for the company’s bottom line, as he explains in a story yesterday on Verge titled: Three reasons why Epic Games can give away $17.5 billion worth of games for free.
And this seems like as good a spot as any to link to TBJ’s wrap-up of Q1 financings among Triangle startups, whether tech, life sciences or other.


Cover Up

Triangle-based serial entrepreneur Chris Evans is back with a new startup called Aries that makes something especially timely: facemasks. Today, Aries announced the public release of the new Aries Work Week Barrier Face Covering, i.e. a comfortable yet protective mask that can be worn for an entire 40-hour work week. The mask is one of the very first to meet the newly released standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM). An Aries blog post explains this much better than I can, and with cool graphics to boot.


Cashing In

Telehealth is one of the sectors that has really boomed during the pandemic, and Raleigh’s CarePICS is taking full advantage. The startup, which uses a tech-enabled virtual care platform to help those suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD), announced that it has sold a minority stake to Cardiovascular Systems Inc. (CSI).  While the full terms of the deal were not disclosed, CSI does have an exclusive option to acquire the remainder of CarePICS, so this might end up being a full-on acquisition rather than a “mere” investment. TechWire has more details.


King Content

Real estate tech firm Fathom, which is partly based in Cary, has announced its third acquisition of the year. The publicly traded company has agreed to acquire LiveBy, a Nebraska-based data aggregation and hyperlocal content firm, in a deal expected to close at $9M. It was LiveBy's content that drove the deal. TBJ has more details.


Hot, Hot, Hot!

Here’s the latest data point that Raleigh-based AI startup Pryon is red-hot: CB Insights named Pryon to its AI 100, a list of the most promising AI companies in the world. CB Insights whittled down the list from a pool of over 6,000 companies. Pryon also made CNBC’s Upstart 100 List for 2019. And this is another excuse for us to recommend that you read the highly entertaining Download Q&A with Pryon Founder and CEO Igor Jablokov.


Growing Trend

There are already a few startups in the Triangle that are in the general space of connecting with local farmers to bring fresh produce to stores and/or the public; i.e. Seal The Seasons, The Produce Box and Freshspire. But there’s still room for a new player—Tall Grass Food Box. Launched during the pandemic, the three co-founders are particularly focused on helping Black farmers, who face systemic challenges that long predate the pandemic. Consider that of the more than 2 million farms in the U.S. in 2017, fewer than 2% were owned by Black farmers, and 87% of Black-owned farms had annual sales of less than $25K. TBJ has much more detail in its cover story.


Local Spin

Two national tech stories from yesterday had a local angle: 1) IBM, which is a major Triangle employer and also the owner of Raleigh’s Red Hat, has launched a spinout company built around its Managed Infrastructure Services group. The new company—which will likely include Triangle employees—is called Kyndryl, a name that is already widely mocked. 2) Microsoft will pay $16B to acquire speech recognition company Nuance. The local angle: in late 2017, Nuance acquired Durham-based healthtech iScribes, which had received investments from Triangle Angel Partners (TAP) and The Launch Place.


Build Better

Dualboot Partners is a software development firm that helps ventures at all stages build great software and great companies. Founded by serial entrepreneurs, Dualboot Partners comes to each project with deep expertise in technology and business, as well as a commitment to supporting its clients well beyond the development process. The team offers advice and perspective—built over the course of hundreds of projects—and leverages its vast network to connect clients with investors, future hires and other resources critical in turning a concept into a successful venture. Intrigued? Email them here!


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