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Happy Thursday!

Two mark-your-calendar notes: 1) Watch tomorrow’s Friday Nooner on Facebook Live or YouTube Live as we welcome guest Bridget Harrington, the Executive Director of Innovate Raleigh; 2) Register to (virtually) attend the inaugural Greppy Awards, aka The Greppys, on Thursday, April 22 at Noon ET. (The Thursday Nooner?) We will be honoring the best and brightest in the Triangle’s tech startup ecosystem.
 


Hands Off

As we discussed on last week’s Friday Nooner, Google has announced that it will stop allowing advertisers to track users’ browsing histories in order to sell them ads. This is on top of Apple announcing similar upcoming restrictions to make it harder for advertisers to track users’ digital movements. These reflect a larger trend toward increased privacy—and a potential sea change in digital advertising.
 
Our Suzanne Blake talked to some local adtechs and digital marketing pros to get more context and see how the national (and international) trends are reverberating right here in the Triangle. You can read our full story—and see our cool graphic by Will Melfihere.


 


That's Genius

As promised in Tuesday’s edition, we have a story today about the new book Genius Makers by Cade Metz, a Raleigh native and Duke grad who covers tech for the New York Times. Genius Makers tells the stories of a few of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, a concept which first gained prominence in the 1950s, was left for dead for decades and then revived around the 2010s when dramatic increases in affordable computing power made the technology more workable. That in turn made AI more groundbreaking and powerful for both better and, potentially, worse.

The book comes out next Tuesday, March 16, and Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Brooks will host a virtual launch event that evening. You can read our full story here.


 


New-ish Fund

A women-led Chapel Hill growth equity fund is seeking to raise $20M a year after it closed on $35M, reports TBJ. Leeds Illuminate was co-founded by Susan Cates and Elizabeth Chou in 2020. Susan is the former director of executive development at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, while Elizabeth is a former general partner at New Markets Venture Partners. They have also convinced Stephanie Nieman, formerly of Durham’s SJF Ventures, to come aboard as managing director. Leeds Illuminate works with New York-based PE firm Leeds Equity Partners, and seeks growth-stage investments in startups in the education and workforce development verticals with at least $10M in annual revenue.


 


Beat The Brits

Former “Where’s Pete?” winner Jim Morgan (Feb. 13, 2020) has launched a startup focused on American Revolution-related tourism and history in North Carolina. You can check out AmRevNC.com for an online guide to more than 90 sites related to the Revolution and other historical events in the state, including guided tours. Jim put in 70+ hours a week on this for the past year alongside his usual day job of running the startup management consultancy Full Stack Scrum, though now that the site is up and out he’s hoping for about a 2:1 time split between FuSS and AmRevNC.


 


War Chest

We’ve gone a few days without mentioning Bandwidth, so let’s break the seal with news that the Raleigh-based tech high-flyer plans to raise nearly $300M in debt. Bandwidth has been on an acquisition spree, and it specifically says the use of funds might include “potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.” Just for the record, GrepBeat is not for sale. (Though we always listen to offers.)


 


SPAC Attack

Now the SPACs are calling from inside the Triangle. Sort of. Two tech startups with Duke ties are going public via SPACs. College Park, Md.-based IonQ is a quantum computing started founded by two Duke faculty members, Jungsang Kim (now CTO) and Chris Monroe (chief scientist) that is going public as part of a $2B offering. Meanwhile Massachusetts-based Evolv Technology, which was founded out of the lab of Duke’s David Smith, is the first AI-enabled touchless security bag screening system in the world. Think: much shorter lines at airport security. Evolv is going public via a SPAC valued at $1.7B.


 


Down Goes Austin!

This week, Wake County Economic Development presented two reports to Wake County commissioners that overall tell a positive story about the Raleigh metro area’s economic recovery from the pandemic. In particular, the WCED commissioned an independent study called the 2020 Metro Comparison in which the Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) ranked first among the 100 largest in the nation, edging No. 2 Austin (yes!). Even factoring in that the report-makers may have felt an unconscious (or conscious) desire to parse the numbers in the way most flattering to their paying customer, we’ll take any W over Austin we can get. TechWire has more details.


 


Epic News

Epic Games can’t help but make headlines, so here are two more from WRAL TechWire: 1) Epic broadens legal war against tech giants, suing Google in Australia; 2) Epic acquires cutting-edge software firm in latest bid to make more life-like effects.


 


Make It Legal

Hutchison is a boutique law firm that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit and steers technology and life sciences entrepreneurs to success through all stages of their company’s life. Hutchison partners with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded organizations to enable business solutions that make the law work for them, and advises angel investors and venture capital firms to support their investment selections to maximize their potential for success. Hutchison takes the time to learn your business and understand what’s behind the deal.


 

Extra Bits

1) Due to some technical issues on Monday, RIoT is taking another crack at an information session on its upcoming Your Reality AR Challenge (there’s $40K up for grabs!) tomorrow at 2pm. 2) On Tuesday at 4:30 on Zoom as part of the NC Rural Summit 2021, Billy Warden will lead a session featuring North Carolina’s own J. Pratt Winston, now 87. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in Durham, Pratt created the futuristic 8-track/AM-FM radio portable unit called the Weltron Model 2001, now affectionately known among collectors as the “Spaceball.”

 

Because too much news is never enough.

 

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Guess where Pete is and (maybe) win a GrepBeat mug!
 

This week's winner is the publicity-shy Kent Phelps, who correctly noted that I was at Provence in Carrboro (below). Kent did not get back to me before press time to tell me his story and supply a celebratory pic. All I can say for sure is that he is a worthy winner. Also, since I am a fan of both baseball and Seinfeld, he made me think of this scene.

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