Here are a few things you may have missed from late last week:
1) Our new (and first-ever) social media manager, Jackie Sizing, unveiled the first episode of her “The Week in 90 Seconds” video series, or “TW90” to the kids. She’ll be dropping a new edition of TW90—which recaps GrepBeat’s week in, you guessed it, 90 seconds—every Friday on our social media channels.
3) Speaking of Hutchison, the law firm sponsored the IRL GrepBeat Happy Hour last Thursday at Bull McCabe’s. The weather looked ominous but the rains held off and a good time was had by all, as you can see by these photos.
The Triangle saw a stylish exit yesterday when Durham-based home-décor fabric marketplace Spoonflower was acquired by Shutterfly for $225M. (See, now was it so hard to announce the dollar amount? Let that be a lesson to the rest of you!) Spoonflower’s marketplace connects textile makers and consumers with design artists worldwide and allows users to design their own patterns and premium fabrics, which it then prints and distributes. Think: curtains, wallpaper, upholstery, etc. Shutterfly is best known as a photo-sharing site but home décor is its fastest-growing category, which makes Spoonflower a natural fit—especially as the DIY design trend was turbo-charged during the pandemic. Plus Shutterfly surely saw that Spoonflower was a Greppys nominee for Best Large Startup.
CEO Michael Jones—a Download subject last October—will continue to run Spoonflower, which will retain its brand. Durham's Bull City Venture Partners was an early investor in Spoonflower, which was founded by Gart Davis and Stephen Fraser in 2008, and is surely seeing a nice return for its own investors. Ahh, nothing like a Triangle ecosystem virtuous circle in motion! You can find more coverage from Bloomberg, TechWire and TBJ.
InHerSight Founder and CEO Ursula Mead is our favorite kind of Download Q&A subject—the kind who is clearly a devoted reader of past Downloads. In answering the question on what she has in her pockets, Ursula hearkened back to the answer given to the same question by Brooks Bell in a January, 2019, Downloadin which Brooks pointed out that women’s clothes are often designed with no pockets.
It’s very much on-brand for Ursula to address such an issue, given that InHerSight is basically Glassdoor for women. InHerSight’s anonymous workplace reviews allow job candidates to evaluate a company’s women-friendliness and commitment to gender diversity before taking the job, and allows companies to build and showcase women-friendly cultures. Read Ursula's full Downloadhere.
Few industries are larger or more byzantine than healthcare, which is almost 18% of GDP. That leads to a sector awash in data but especially ill-equipped to make best use of it. That’s the challenge—and opportunity—that Chapel Hill-based Quinsite is looking to meet. Founded in 2017 by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff and Jenny Maze, Quinsite is a healthcare analytics platform that provides hospitals and private practices with detailed visibility into their operations and actionable insights based on that data. Quinsite was a new addition to Scot Wingo’s 2021 Triangle Tweener list. Read our full story on Quinsite here.
Cary-based Global Knowledge, which offers digital learning for IT and tech skills, has been officially acquired as part of a SPAC deal that will result in a new public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The short version: Churchill Capital Corp is a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) that merged with-slash-acquired Software Luxembourg Holding S.A., a digital learning company, and then the combined entity announced last October that they intended to acquire Global Knowledge for $233M.
Now that it’s officially done, the new company will be rebranded as Skillsoft and will trade under the ticker SKIL. Global Knowledge has been owned since 2011 by New York-based PE firm MidOcean Partners. See TechWire and TBJ for more.
Late last week CED released its 2020 Innovators Report, which pores over funding figures for North Carolina startups. Some highlights: A record $3.4B+ was raised by NC startups in 2020, a gain of almost 130% over 2019. In fairness, a sizable chunk of that was due to two companies—Cary’s Epic Games ($1.8B) and Charlotte’s AvidExchange ($572M)—but even if you remove them, it was still a strong year by historical standards. The Triangle took the top spot, by far, in terms of both deal volume and total funding (thanks again, Epic Games). You can get the whole 12-page CED report here, or see TechWire’s recap here.
And if you prefer your looking-back to be even more current, Cofounders Capital’s David Gardner gives his take in TechWire on how the almost-over first half of 2021 has been shaping up for the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem—the good, the bad and the mixed.
SAS has promoted longtime exec Jenn Chase to Chief Marketing Officer. Jenn has been working in SAS’s cozy Cary confines for 20+ years, primarily in marketing and R&D, before ascending to the C-Suite. TechWire has more details.
RTP-based Smart Sky Networks, which is building an air-to-ground network for better in-flight internet, has opened its first fully operational coverage zone across a contiguous portion of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The company plans to launch the service commercially later in 2021. Frankly, I kind of miss no-wifi flights, but then again I haven’t raised nearly $440M like Smart Sky has to make sure we’re never without fast and reliable internet no matter our altitude. See TechWire for more.
Today is Day 2 of the three-day VC University, co-hosted by UNC’s Eship Center and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). The NVCA designed the program with Startup@BerkeleyLaw and Venture Forward in 2019, and UNC is the third university to serve as host. While the event is being held virtually, the roster includes a number of local boldface names.
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!
The TiE Carolinas Chapter is hosting a global pitch competition for The Young Entrepreneurs Program on June 18-19. High school-aged students from around the world will (virtually) pitch their business ideas to North Carolina judges who include former Where’s Pete? winner Lewis Sheats, who is (arguably) better known the NC State’s entrepreneurship kingpin. You can find more info here.